Alberta Progressive Conservatives and Energy Minister Diana McQueen: Glaringly Empty Seat on Political Panel in Lethbridge

2014 02 21 CTV News at 5 Lethbridge snap showing Energy Minister Diana McQueen's empty seat on the panel PC seat Empty

Clip starts at 6:14 Min. Screen grab of the panel, note the empty seat for the Tories. Diana McQueen, Energy Minister, and three other PC’s were invited, none attended.

2014 02 21 Urban drilling opposition high in Lethbridge Global News snap

More than 10,000 have now signed the petition against drilling and frac’ing in Lethbridge.

‘can’t ignore the voters’ by Dave Mabell, February 21, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
Elected representatives from three of Alberta’s political parties spoke out Thursday against oilwell drilling inside Lethbridge city limits. But the fourth party, the governing Conservatives, had nothing to say. An on-stage seat intended for the province’s energy minister or her representative remained empty.

Mayor Chris Spearman – after leading a moment of silence in memory of Councillor Wade Galloway, who died in an avalanche – reported the oil company that’s sparked public concern in Lethbridge is now expected to address council on March 17. Meanwhile, he told a crowd of about 200, citizens could back city council’s stand against drilling by getting involved with the government’s South Saskatchewan River basin policy-writing process. As it stands, Spearman said, oil and gas development are given higher priority than municipal planning or environmental protection.

The mayor also applauded No Drilling Lethbridge, the grassroots organization that sprung up to organize protests and Thursday’s forum after Calgary-based Goldenkey Oil Ltd. announced plans to drill three wells near the city’s newest westside neighbourhoods.

It seems easy for the provincial government to ignore city councils, he said.

“But you can’t ignore the voters.”

Forum moderator Trevor Page confirmed that Energy Minister Diana McQueen had been asked to attend the public meeting, but she refused. Conservative MLAs Greg Weadick (Lethbridge West) and Bridget Pastoor (Lethbridge East) were also absent, but neighbouring Wildrose MLAs Gary Bikman and Pat Stier were introduced.

New Democratic Party leader Brian Mason and Liberal energy critic Kent Hehr confirmed their parties’ policy: No energy drilling in any urban municipality.

Wildrose energy critic Jason Hale said his party has yet to strike a policy.
But city or town councils should have a veto, he said. “Municipalities should have a say whether there will be drilling or not.” [“Should” is an escape hatch word, used often by regulators and governments that enable oil and gas industry control over communities. If the Wildrose Party intended to give communities any say, Mr. Hale would use the word “must”] And the province must enforce the rules and regulations it writes to protect the public, he said later. Hale said he knows from experience, “Some companies don’t follow those regulations.”

Nearly two years ago, Mason told a questioner, the Conservative energy minister of the day promised a review leading to a province-wide policy on urban drilling. “We see no evidence that this review is actually happening,” he said – allowing the government to deal with Goldenkey as it wishes. Meanwhile the Conservatives scrapped the Energy Conservation Board and replaced it with a government-appointed energy regulator, Hehr reminded the crowd. “It’s an organization controlled by the PC cabinet,” which is free to change its policies or terms of reference at will, he said. The province’s environment department is no longer involved in energy-related decisions, Mason added. “This government lets the oil and gas industry write its own ticket,” yet voters keep returning it to office. “That’s something that’s fundamentally wrong about Alberta politics.”  [Emphasis added]

Fedup Conservative says:
February 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM
With the Wildrose Party accepting large donations from the oil industry and promising them, in exchange, our oil and gas for free. No royalties to be collected only taxes, at only 10 percent no less, I’m not surprised that they haven’t struck a policy, as Jason Hale stated. They can’t. They are in bed with the oil industry, just like the conservatives are. There is really no difference between the two parties and Albertans had better realize it. With the Wildrose promising to cut government spending by dumping the cost of health care and education onto the backs of the people, like their hero Ralph Klein did with the power industry, why would anyone support them? You had better have a lot of money if you do.

2014 02 20 Urban Drilling What are the Political Perspectives

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