EUB fails integrity test by spying on residents

EUB fails integrity test by spying on residents by Paula Simons, June 21, 2007, The Edmonton Journal
When the story started oozing out, it sounded almost too paranoid to be true. The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, an arm of the Alberta government, has been hiring private investigators to monitor farmers and acreage-dwellers from central Alberta. We’re not talking about eco-terrorists or radical political dissidents. We’re talking about a bunch of severely normal, Martha-and-Henry, Conservative-voting farmers from Rimbey who believe the EUB hearing process is stacked against them. … You know what? In a free and democratic society, the state does not normally hire private detectives to spy on citizens. If the EUB was sincerely worried about threats of violence, it could have called independent officers from the RCMP to investigate — officers who wouldn’t have been in the pay of the EUB, officers who would have had to worry about things like search warrants and probable cause and the Charter of Rights. That’s what makes the EUB’s actions so disturbing. The board tried to do an end-run around civil liberties by contracting out surveillance work to a private company. For a quasi-judicial body to behave in the way that’s alleged, in the midst of a hearing, is reprehensible. We do have a right to dissent in this province. We also have a right to privacy and to freedom of association. … The board not only has to be impartial. It must be perceived as impartial if it is to have any credibility. … Our energy regulators must act, and appear to act, with scrupulous integrity. The EUB has failed that test.

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