Alberta politics today: Caribou, Cell Phone Bills, and backing down on Term-Limits

Canada Alberta Caribou Habitat
The caribou was first featured on Canada’s 25-cent piece in 1936. Today, the habitat populated by Alberta’s caribou herds has been devastated.

Another news report this week focused on the devastation of caribou habitat in northwestern Alberta. The CBC story reported that deforestation caused by seismic cutlines and snowmobile traffic has caused irreparable damage to habitat critical to the survival of Alberta’s caribou herds. “About five per cent of range for the Little Smoky and a la Peche caribou herds remains undisturbed — a long way from the federal government’s 65% target,” the CBC report stated.

Thomas Lukaszuk
Thomas Lukaszuk

Former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk’s campaign for the Progressive Conservative leadership was left reeling yesterday when it was reported that he racked up a $20,000 cell phone bill on his government cell phone while on a personal trip to Poland and Israel in October 2012. Although Mr. Lukaszuk was on a personal trip, he told the media that he conducted business by downloading large-sized files of legal documents onto his phone.

PC leadership front-runner Jim Prentice changed his tune on plans to legislate term-limits for MLAs and Premiers in Alberta. Following his announcement last week, the legal and constitutional academic community was unanimous in their belief that it would be unconstitutional and contravene Section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mr. Prentice, a lawyer by trade, now says he would not legislate the term-limits, but implement them as an internal PC Party policy.

An important endorsement was made in the less-talked about campaign to lead the Alberta NDP. NDP MLA Deron Bilous has endorsed his caucus colleague Rachel Notley in her bid to become that party’s next leader. Mr. Bilous, who has represented Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview since 2012, is one of four NDP MLAs in the Alberta Legislature. Ms. Notley is facing Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen and union activist Rod Loyola in the leadership race. The vote to chose the new leader is schedule for October 18, 2014 at Edmonton’s Sutton Place.

Marlin Schmidt NDP Edmonton
Marlin Schmidt

The NDP will hold a nomination meeting in Edmonton-Gold Bar on September 8. Past candidate Marlin Schmidt is expected to be acclaimed in that contest. In 2012, Mr. Schmidt placed 880 votes behind PC candidate David Dorward, making this a target constituency for the NDP in the next election.  The meeting will feature guest speaker Pat Martin, NDP MP for Winnipeg-Centre.

The Liberals will be nominating their candidate for the upcoming Calgary-Elbow by-election on September 18, 2014. Susan Wright, lawyer and author of the witty Susan On The Soapbox blog  has put her name forward for the nomination. Although the Liberals fared poorly in this constituency in 2012, the party surprised many political watchers by winning the 2007 Calgary-Elbow by-election that replaced former Premier Ralph Klein.

For a complete list, check out the list of 2015/2016 Alberta Provincial Election candidates and nominees.

6 thoughts on “Alberta politics today: Caribou, Cell Phone Bills, and backing down on Term-Limits”

  1. I wonder how many other PC MLAs have done this over the years, had the government pay and never made it public.

  2. Actually Jackson, she unseated herself. There is no sitting MLA in Elbow.

    Dave I’d be interested to see how they came up with the 5% undisturbed (i.e., 95% disturbed) number. Some basic math shows that it’s absolute bull. If there are 16000 km (16 million metres) of seismic lines AND they are 10m wide (they aren’t usually that wide and most of them would be somewhat grown back in by now, it’s not a super active exploration play), that’s 160 million square metres of actual disturbance. The entire area, according to the story, is 13,000 square kilometres. A square kilometre is a million square metres. So, the 160 million square metres of disturbance, is 160 square kilometres, out of 13,000 square kilometres, an actual physical disturbance of 160/13000, or 1.23 per cent. Not looking so good for the CBC’s crack investigative team, is it?

    A little critical thinking goes a long way when you’re watching the CBC…or consuming any news outlet’s product.

  3. Bob – the math may have something to do with the statement in the article from the report’s author that

  4. Oops, hit send too early. The report authors suggest that caribou actively stay 500m away from seismic lines. So the disruption of one line is effectively 1km wide (500m in each direction) regardless of width. So that 16,000 km of seismic line translates to 16,000 square km of activity. After accounting for what I’m guessing is significant overlap of this “disturbance buffer” it would be easy to get to a 95% disturbance ratio.

  5. Yes, Chris, I’m aware of their 500 metres in each direction buffer zone. I’m also aware that caribou don’t recognize any such thing. They aren’t that smart (in fact, they are among the dumbest of God’s creatures, which is one of the reasons for their declining numbers). If you don’t believe me, check out Cenovus’s wildlife cameras online, clearly showing caribou traveling along pipeline rights of way (just like a seismic line).

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