Nov 25, 2020 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – Alison Redford, the former politician sent by Canada to review ExxonMobil’s US$9B Payara project, has benefitted from thousands of dollars in donations made to her political party by a subsidiary of ExxonMobil called Imperial Oil.
Imperial is a petroleum company operating in Canada, majority owned, about 70 percent, by ExxonMobil.
Elections Alberta, an independent, non-partisan office of the Legislative Assembly there, keeps records of donations made to political parties.
According to its data, Redford’s party, Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCA), received donations from Imperial over many years, while she was a member.
In the period during which the donations were received, Redford quickly moved up in the PCA, eventually becoming its leader and Premier of the Canadian province of Alberta.
In 2009, the year after Redford was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for her Calgary-Elbow constituency and named the PCA Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Imperial donated CAD$10,250 to PCA, and another CAD$1,475 to support specific constituency associations of the party.
In 2010, Imperial donated CAD$10,250 to PCA, CAD$400 to Redford’s Calgary-Elbow constituency association, and another CAD$875 to another constituency association.
In 2011, Imperial donated CAD$6,750 to PCA and another CAD$400 to a specific constituency association. During this year, Redford became Leader of PCA and Premier of Alberta.
In 2012, Imperial donated CAD$15,000 to PCA, and another CAD$1,475 to a specific constituency association.
In 2013 and 2014, Imperial donated CAD$10,000 and CAD$10,900 respectively to PCA.
While she benefitted from Imperial’s money – ultimately Exxon’s money – another scandal plagued Redford’s political career. She drew widespread public controversy in Canada when it was discovered that, during her attendance of the funeral of Nelson Mandela the state footed the CAD$45,000 cost of her trip, including about CAD$10,000 for a privately chartered return flight from South Africa.
Redford reportedly refused several calls to repay the money spent for the South Africa trip, but eventually bowed to pressure in 2014 and delivered the funds back to the public purse, with a public apology.
Redford announced her resignation in March 2014 as Alberta Premier, and as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in August, a day before an Attorney General (AG) report on her spending practices was scheduled for release.
The AG report found that she and her office had “used public resources inappropriately”; “used public assets (aircraft) for personal and partisan purposes” and that Redford “was involved in a plan to convert public space in a public building into personal living space.”
The AG determined, in short, that Redford abused her power and fostered a culture of entitlement.
If it wasn’t problematic enough for the Irfaan Ali administration that Redford has a history of scandal over misuse of public funds while in public office or that nothing could be said of her experience reviewing field development plans, it should have been a deal-breaker that during the same controversial period, her party benefitted so much from an ExxonMobil subsidiary while scandal surrounded her leadership.
This constitutes a clear conflict of interest, which is sure to bring into question the integrity of her work on the Payara field development plan which received approval in less than two months.
It also raises questions about whether the Ali administration did sufficient due diligence checks when vetting Redford. If it did, the Ali administration was not concerned about this conflict.
The weight of responsibility placed on this controversial figure by the Guyanese and Canadian governments in August this year cannot be overspent. It is estimated that the Payara project’s development will cost US$9B – six times Guyana’s 2020 budget.
There are still lingering questions over the veracity of this estimate, since the project is similar in nature to the US$6B Liza Phase Two project.
Aside from that, there were grave concerns about ExxonMobil’s Liza Phase One environmental infractions, and the production licence produced after Redford’s review did not provide complete assurance that those infractions will be prevented at the Payara project.
The project, slated to come on stream in 2024, will be producing a maximum of 220,000 barrels of oil per day, and is likely to last more than a decade.
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