Stelmach endorses the indefensible

Stelmach endorses the indefensible by Greg Neiman, June 22, 2007, Red Deer Advocate
One of the worst ways to preserve respect for government and rule of law that you could possibly think of, is for the government to allow itself to be seen as above the law, holding no respect for the people it governs. That’s what happened when Premier Ed Stelmach defended the the Alberta Energy and Utility Board (EUB), a government-appointed quasi-judicial body, in its decision to hire private detectives to spy on landowners fighting to keep a high-voltage power line from crossing their land. The revelation that the EUB would send someone to infiltrate landowner meetings and take part in lawyer-client discussions was bad enough. That’s like a trial judge listening in on plaintiffs’ discussions with lawyers, trying to know in advance how an appeal could be launched if the decision went against them. That’s abhorrent. It’s a reprehensible way for a government body to conduct its business in what we still call a democratic, free society. The EUB has been called reprehensible names before, by a lot of people who carry serious doubts the board is out to protect the best interests of all Albertans. … The buck moves upstairs, to the government. So it strains credulity to hear the premier defend the decision to hire four private detectives to blend in with the crowd watching EUB hearings in Rimbey on a big-screen TV. Stelmach reiterated the rationale of the EUB, citing its fears that the people might be revolting. … This goes beyond protecting board members from having to endure shouting or shoving. It moves into the area where the government is spying on the people it fears.

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