Stelmach government failing to live up to promises

Stelmach government failing to live up to promises by Bill Mokoski, September 19, 2007, Red Deer Advocate
Over the summer, I have followed the hearings into the proposed power line running from Edmonton to Calgary. As a student of democracy for over five decades, I see a gradual and relentless trend toward ‘management’ of the electorate. The cavalier attitude of the Alberta Energy Utility Board and the stealth-like introduction of Bill 46 on the last ‘sitting day’ of the legislature prompted me to write to Premier Ed Stelmach, Energy Minister Mel Knight and my MLA, Luke Ouellette.

The following is a summary of what I had to say.

I reminded Stelmach that one of his key promises was to bring back an open and transparent form of government. My reading of the Klein government was that they believed they were elected not so much to govern but more to ‘manage.’ I believed that Stelmach’s promise of greater transparency would lead to a more open government where ordinary citizens could feel comfortable in expressing their views and would be confident that they would be listened to. The whole issue of the various hearings of the EUB this year and the proposed changes as outlined in Bill 46 is alarming to me. I would urge Stelmach to rethink Bill 46 and get away from the ‘management’ form of thinking. Fast-tracking is not necessarily efficient, nor is it particularly democratic. I believe that Bill 46 must not be made retroactive.

The EUB has operated in a disgraceful manner and must be held accountable. Not only have they been caught lying to the public but the use of spies to snoop on citizens smacks of a police state.
 Again, I hearken back to my point that democracy must be open and transparent and that citizens must have a fair chance to participate. Bill 46 also puts far too many restrictions on the rights of citizens to participate.  As a farmer, I find it totally unacceptable that I would have only a 30-day time period to appeal a decision made by the appointed commission. What if I’m in the middle of lambing, seeding, harvesting, etc.?  Equally I would have little confidence in a government appointed ‘Utilities Consumer Advocate’ to represent my issues. Further, the idea that I could not have legal representation at public hearings and that I could not present my issues orally, leaves me with great doubts.

I would always wonder if anyone ever read my submission. My guess is that a large number of submissions would be perused by ‘executive assistants’ who would summarize written submissions and much of the thrust would be glean out. Democracy is sometimes messy and time consuming but it is worth it. Finally, I would like to say that I was quite taken aback by the way Bill 46 was introduced. Putting it before the legislature on the last day of the sitting appears to be manipulative. Perhaps I’m too cynical in this regard, but I could be convinced otherwise if there was a good explanation. I hope Stelmach will see fit to consider these concerns and take the appropriate action. [Emphasis added]

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