EUB must be investigated now

EUB must be investigated now by rick zemanek, Red Deer Advocate, July 3, 2007
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms steadfastly defends the rights of any citizen to a free voice without fear of the democratic process being eroded by any level of government. Meddling, or censorship, that taints these sacred rules creates suspicion, dissension, and a cry to right things that may have gone wrong. No government in Canada is above the charter. Any allegations made by citizens of being ill-afforded the freedom of speech, or deprived of the charter’s rules by the government, demands full investigation. The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board has come under the microscope of the province’s privacy commissioner after allegations the EUB, at the blessing of the provincial government, hired spies to eavesdrop on citizens fighting a highly-contentious 330-km power line proposed by the energy giant AltaLink. As is the usual course of any proposal involving the energy giants, the EUB must hold public hearings and listen to concerns about methane gas drilling, power line proposals, sour-gas well projects and anything else that would severely affect the health and well-being of Albertans who must co-exist with these massive, money-making ideas. But the EUB, and the provincial government, was not anticipating a well-oiled protest by a number of landowner lawyers and the Lavesta Group, which represents about 800 people. … The EUB expressed concerns for its safety. It locked the hearing doors, altered the hearing rules, and restricted input. The lockout, and even the move, were clear violations of Canada’s democratic rules, and rules specifically laid down by the provincial government. … “It’s not something you would expect in a democratic society,” said affected landowner Jim Vetsch. …Did the EUB overstep its authority? Did Premier Ed Stelmach put his foot in it by defending the hiring of secret agents? Is the provincial government responsibly addressing proposals by energy giants? “I don’t trust them. “It’s like having the fox investigating the goings on in a henhouse,” said Joe Anglin, who leads a group opposed to the power project. If the EUB was genuinely concerned about security at these hearings, why was the RCMP not called?

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