Trans Mountain, a Canadian government-owned pipeline and energy company, says it is investigating allegations that one of its consultants has ties to the Proud Boys, a group on a federal list of terrorist organizations.

The allegations follow a massive data breach of records from Epik, a U.S.-based internet company known for hosting and providing online services for far-right content.

The records, released by the online hacktivist group Anonymous, include a trove of personal information about some of the names behind viral campaigns promoting racism, misinformation, disinformation and other extremist views online, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The Narwhal reviewed invoice records from the breach that appear to reveal the name, personal address and phone number of a Calgary-based consultant who said on LinkedIn that he worked for Trans Mountain as a geographic information systems technologist since November 2019. According to the leaked records, the Calgary man registered the domain ProudBoysCalgary.com on Dec. 9, 2019.

It was not immediately clear whether the person who registered the Proud Boys domain name was the same person from Trans Mountain or whether it was a case of mistaken identity.

“We are currently investigating the claim,” Trans Mountain told The Narwhal in a short email on Thursday, responding to questions about the revelations, which have been shared repeatedly on Twitter over the past few days.

The person who was named in the social media posts appeared to remove or restrict public access to his social media accounts on Facebook and on LinkedIn on Thursday after a new series of messages were posted about him on Twitter.

“I’m seeking advise [sic] and counsel from a lawyer and cannot speak to anything at this time,” said the man in an email sent to The Narwhal on Thursday evening. “I categorically deny any and all involvement and the police are involved and assisting me in this matter.”

Last February, the Canadian government added the Proud Boys to its list of terrorist groups, saying the extremist group  had played a “pivotal role” in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol Building. The listing makes it a crime to provide financial support or other services to the Proud Boys.

The federal government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and several related assets in 2018 in a multibillion dollar deal, after the previous owner, Kinder Morgan, threatened to cancel a proposed West Coast pipeline expansion project.

Public opposition to new oil and gas projects, recent federal efforts to increase environmental standards and lengthy delays facing projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion have provoked a fierce backlash in provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan that rely heavily on the oilpatch for jobs. The pro-oil and gas movement has staged various protests that have attracted far-right activists who spread racist messages and threats against First Nations.

Some oilpatch workers have made a point of distancing themselves from extremist messaging, and it is not clear whether the Proud Boys have been actively organizing within these movements or trying to take advantage of public anger to spread their own message.

Reached by phone, Rob Monster, Epik’s chief executive officer, declined to comment about the nature of the content his company is hosting, asking The Narwhal to send questions by email.

The company did not respond prior to publication.

Updated Sept. 23, 2021, at 8:32 p.m. MT: Adds new statement from person who denied any and all involvement.

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?
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When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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The Narwhal’s reporters uncover energy stories that send shockwaves throughout Canada. But they can’t do it alone — we need to add 50 new members this month to meet our budget. Will you support crucial climate reporting that makes an impact?