Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer took to social media Friday to say he will not apologize for participating in a day-long election strategy session with wealthy oil executives at a luxury resort in Alberta earlier this month.
"I will not apologize for standing up for Canada’s oil and gas workers and to defeat a government that is intent on phasing them out," Scheer said in a Facebook post, while sharing a link to a Globe and Mail story about his involvement in a behind-closed-doors meeting with members of an oil advocacy group called the Modern Miracle Network on April 11.
On its website, the group describes itself as, "citizens concerned about Canada’s future prosperity, who want to have an adult conversation about energy choices."
According to the Globe, session attendees included leaders of four oil companies, conservative organizers and the president of Canada's largest oilpatch lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould told the Globe the meetings were "concerning," given Canada's "very robust laws ... when it comes to transparency and when it comes to anti-collusion with third-party groups and political parties." She added, “I think it’s concerning that type of co-ordination would be going on, and I think it is concerning that it is happening behind closed doors in secret, and I think Canadians deserve more transparency to know what the intentions and objectives of their political leaders are."
The Globe broke news of the secret Alberta meeting this week, reporting on the event's agenda, which showed that Scheer was the keynote speaker and there were discussions about "rallying the base" and mapping the Conservatives' road to victory in the 2019 federal election.
In Kanata, Ont. on Friday, where he was meeting with party supporters, Scheer told reporters, "I meet with people all the time. I meet with different representatives of many different types of industries."
He told supporters: "We are a grassroots party. ... We don't have well-connected friends that, as we learned today, funnel money through donations. We don't have the types of corporate buddies that Justin has."
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna also responded to the story by taking to Twitter and accusing Scheer and his friends of trying to block action to fight climate change across Canada.
"Straight from Harper's playbook: Andrew Scheer has been caught scheming behind closed doors with wealthy executives to gut environmental protection laws, silence critics, and make pollution free again," McKenna wrote. "We're working with Canadians everywhere to find common ground and put solutions into action that protect nature and fight climate change. Meanwhile, Scheer and his powerful friends plan to slap critics with lawsuits and smear campaigns."
Straight from Harper's playbook: Andrew Scheer has been caught scheming behind closed doors with wealthy executives to gut environmental protection laws, silence critics, and make pollution free again.https://t.co/8FtwbDhtBq— Catherine McKenna 🇨🇦 (@cathmckenna) April 25, 2019
On Friday afternoon, Scheer reposted a December, 2018 video of himself participating in a pro-oil truck convoy in Alberta. He wrote, "While Justin Trudeau's Liberals want to phase out Canada's energy workers, I am not ashamed of fighting for them – and it's no secret."
While Justin Trudeau’s Liberals want to phase out Canada’s energy workers, I am not ashamed of fighting for them – and it’s no secret. All Canadians need a government in Ottawa that champions their livelihoods, fights to create opportunities, and will make life more affordable. https://t.co/jJjaN5Z8sN— Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) April 26, 2019