As part of his government’s priority of Accountability and Transparency for Building Tomorrow’s Secure Alberta Future, Ed Stelmach has taken a hold of the reigns of democracy by invoking closure on the debate of controversial Bill 46. Official Opposition MLAs were only given four hours to debate the Bill before Stelmach shut down debate on the Bill.
Alberta Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman:
“The Conservatives aren’t even allowing their own members to speak to it,” Blakeman says. “If you think electing a Conservative MLA will put you on the inside of government, you’re wrong. They’re shutting down their people.”
This is the first time the Stelmach government has used closure. The Klein government used closure 38 times in 14 years but it seldom used closure on more than one stage of a bill.
“Stelmach is Klein on steroids,” Blakeman says. “He’s hyper-Klein.”
In Bill 46, including the new amendments tabled today, if a person is directly and adversely affected by a proposed project the new commission can still make any decision or issue any order without giving notice or holding a hearing if the commission is satisfied the applicant followed the rules respecting each owner of land. No one knows what the rules are in respect to each owner of land and the rules have not been made or defined. What’s troubling is, Bill 46 allows the commission to make rules and regulations that supersede legislation. In essence the new Commission will be able to make rules to circumvent legislation.
Furthermore, the public can have no confidence in Bill 46 if section 24(1) remains. Section 24(1) allows the Commission to make any decision or issue any order without giving notice or holding a hearing if the commission considers the matter urgent or for any other sufficient reason. Simply stated citizens have no right to notice or to a hearing in Bill 46. Finally, in Sec 9(4) the Commission does not have to afford an opportunity to a person to be represented by counsel.