AEUB Alberta Politics

and the award goes to…

With the Spring Session of the Alberta Legislature set to begin in just only weeks, the provincial scene is starting to come alive again after the post-election hangover/depression is starting to wear off (depending on which side of the Legislature your team is sitting on)…

– The Alberta Liberal Caucus was sworn-in today. The 9-member Official Opposition will include new faces Kent Hehr (Calgary-Buffalo) and Darshan Kang (Calgary-McCall). The Alberta Liberals recently announced their shadow cabinet which includes Hehr taking Justice and Attorney General, Solicitor-General and Public Security, and Kang taking Transportation and Service Alberta.

Alberta MLAs are getting a 4.7% raise this week (their salaries are tied to an annual adjustment). We’lla ll be looking forward to seeing newly elected Tory MLA Carl Benito (Edmonton-Mill Woods) come through on his election promise to donate his salary to a scholarship program.

– After six-months on the job, Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Chairman William Tillman has resigned. Tillman took over the position following last year’s AEUB spy scandal, in which it was discovered that the provincially-appointed AEUB had used public funds to hire a private investigator to spy on central Alberta landowners and their lawyers.

– And the awards goes to… Tory Premier Ed Stelmach for placing a strong second in the Fossil Fool of the Year Awards

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has won the dubious title of Fossil Fool of the Year runner-up, beating out several of North America’s top energy and automaker chief executives.

Stelmach picked up 25 per cent of more than 6,000 votes cast worldwide and will be crowned ‘Canadian Fossil Fool of the Year’ on Tuesday, April 1 by San Francisco-based organizer, Energy Action Coalition.

The premier was nominated in the international vote for his staunch support of oilsands development in northern Alberta with “the potential to lay waste to an area the size of the state of Florida,” says the coalition.

Stelmach finished second in voting behind Bank of America chief executive Ken Lewis, who has attracted the ire of environmentalists for funding various coal-power projects.

2008 Alberta Provincial Election AEUB Alberta Politics Alberta Social Credit

back on the provincial scene…

I’ll briefly return to Alberta’s provincial political scene for a post or two…

– Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Reverend Tony Abbott lost the Tory nomination to former Drayton Valley Mayor Diana McQueen. This is a huge blow to the social conservative-wing of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. Though I don’t consider Abbott to have been a very effective MLA, he carried the anti-abortion crazy flag dropped by former Tory MLA Julius Yankowski (Yankowski was defeated in Edmonton-Beverly Clareview in the 2004 election). The Reverend will be running as an independent and will pose a strong challenge to McQueen’s Tory ambitions.

– Because I’m sure no one noticed, the Alberta Social Credit Party is in the midst of a raucous leadership race… here are the candidates…

Gordon Barrett (click here for more info in PDF format)
Larry Heather (click here for more info in PDF format)
Len Skowronski
(click here for more info in PDF format)

– The senior security executive on the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board was finally fired over the AEUB spy scandal. This is a good first step, but the real problem remains – Energy Minister Mel Knight, who along with Ed Stelmach protected and defended the AEUB’s after its use of public funds to hire a private investigator to spy on ordinary Albertans, still remains in his job. This is a serious issue and actions like these should not be taken lightly. If the Stelmach Tories are serious about “accountability and transparency,” Knight would no longer be sitting at the Tory Cabinet table.

The AEUB spy scandal is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mel Knight’s reputation as Minister of Energy, along with former Minister of Energy Greg Melchin, Knight’s department was singled out by Auditor General Fred Dunn in his report:

“The principals of transparency and accountability, I believe, were not followed. I’m not impressed.”

“The department should demonstrate its stewardship of Alberta’s royalty regime and provide analysis to support that stewardship and this was not done.”

“The department’s monitoring and technical review findings were communicated to decision-makers. The question is: Did they hear or were they listening? At the end of the day, I don’t know, but they chose not to act.”

So, when are the real heads going to roll?

AEUB Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Mel Knight

ed stelmach and mel knight continue to fumble the aeub scandal.

Long title. Big deal.

Tory Premier Ed Stelmach and his Energy Minister Mel Knight continue to fumble in the face of the growing AEUB scandal. It looks as if Stelmach and Knight are pulling out every tool in the Tory tool chest in order to not deal with the scandal of the public AEUB hiring private investigators to spy on ordinary Albertans.

For the highlights, I’ll defer to the brutal eloquence of Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson

Energy Minister Mel Knight did two things exceptionally well in his news conference at the legislature on Monday afternoon: he arrived on time and he didn’t fall off the stage.

He did everything else remarkably badly.

At times Knight looked like he didn’t know how to answer questions or was doing his best to avoid them. Sometimes he grew so testy with reporters it looked like he wanted to kick them. I suspect the reason he didn’t was because at any given time he had a least one foot stuck firmly in his mouth.

Monday was supposed to be the day the Alberta government would demonstrate leadership on the EUB spying controversy that has plagued the government since news broke in June the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board hired a private investigator who had spied on landowners.

For weeks, the government has been hinting it was about to take decisive action to recover the EUB’s reputation that has sunk so low you’d need a drilling rig to find it.

Instead, we had a minister of energy doing his best to downplay the biggest scandal to hit the government since Ed Stelmach became premier.

AEUB Ed Stelmach

the aeub scandal continues.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board scandal continues to haunt Ed Stelmach‘s Tories as it has now been uncovered that the AEUB had hired a private investigation company to monitor a second public hearing in May 2007.

The board is already being investigated by the government for hiring Shepp Johnman to monitor landowners at a hearing in Rimbey who were opposed to a proposed powerline between Calgary and Edmonton.

According to the Canadian Press, “the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board accepts the findings of the privacy commissioner regarding undercover investigators at hearings into a contoversial power line.”

And in case you wanted any more evidence of Ed Stelmach’s decisive leadership skills, after defending the AEUB’s actions in spying on Albertans in June, our Conservative Premier has decided to ‘think about it…

“But Premier Ed Stelmach said he wants to see more evidence about the decision of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board to use private detectives at two hearings since last spring.

What more evidence does Ed Stelmach need before heads start to roll on the AEUB Board?

What about using public funds to hire private investigators to spy on Albertans does Ed
Stelmach find acceptable?

AEUB Alberta Liberals Alberta Politics Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach

top ten.

I’m going to be taking a break from the world of blogging for the month of July, but I will be back in August.

Until then, I will leave you with the Ed Stelmach Top Ten List…

10. The $5,000 Fundraiser

9. Ed Stelmach’s first cabinet (90% male, 90% rural, 90% rookie)

8. Ed Stelmach’s second cabinet (89% male, 89% rural, 89% rookie).

7. The Stelmach-Oberg 2007 Budget.

6. Ed Stelmach agreeing with Calgary Elbow PC candidate Brian Heninger that he should be choked (Heninger was defeated by Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins. Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals won Calgary Elbow after 36 years as a Tory stronghold).

5. Ed Stelmach picking a fight with Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier over municipal funding.

4. Ed Stelmach letting Education Minister Ron Liepert pick a fight with the Alberta Teachers’ Association over the unfunded pension liability during a bargaining year.

3. Ed Stelmach defending the AEUB for hiring four private investegators to spy on Albertans and their lawyers.

2. Ed Stelmach doing nearly nothing to address Alberta’s growing affordable housing crisis.

1. Ed Stelmach blaming market forces for his 19 point drop in support in Calgary.

There you have it folks, see you in August!

AEUB Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach

commissioner to investigate aeub.

As Ed Stelmach and Mel Knight continue to defend the AEUB for its hiring of four private investagators to spy on Albertans and their lawyers in Rimbey, Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work has opened an investigation into the AEUB scandal.

Meanwhile, the angry letters continue to roll into the newspapers.

AEUB Democracy Ed Stelmach

where are the rolling heads?

As Ed Stelmach continues to defend the AEUB, Tory Minister Mel Knight is refusing to discipline anyone in the AEUB for hiring four private investigators to spy on a group of Alberta farmers and their lawyers.

“They discussed in hindsight that some of the things could have been handled differently and will be using this as a learning opportunity for the future. There will be no disciplinary measures at this time,” Knight’s spokesman Jason Chance said.

So, a provincially appointed tax-payer funded public body hired four private investigators to spy on ordinary Albertans and it’s a “learning experience?”

There are no repercussions?

No heads are going to roll?

No “review” of security policies?

“There are some very obvious security threats to oil and gas production and we shouldn’t discount that, but that is a totally different matter from public engagement in hearings,” said Lois Harder, a specialist in Canadian politics. “The effort to keep insisting this is a security issue is a ruse.”

“It’s trumped up.”

Democracy in Alberta just took another shot, Harder said.

“It’s very clear that if there is a threat of violence you call the police, not a private investigator who has no power to stop a threat of violence,” Harder said.

This would have been a perfect opportunity for Ed Stelmach to step up and lead by saying that this type of behavior is unacceptable. Instead, he towed the AEUB line. Albertans should be furious.

(Sheila Pratt also has some intersting thoughts on this issue)

AEUB Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach

aeub hired p.i. to spy on albertans.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board hired a private investegator to spy on Albertans. Yes. A spy.

To quote Paula Simons:

Activists also allege that one of the EUB’s agents, Don MacDonald, infiltrated the Alberta Environmental Network by posing as a concerned environmentalist.

Under that guise, they claim, MacDonald took part in conference calls in which the landowners and their lawyers discussed legal strategy.

For the record, the EUB denies hiring MacDonald to spy on the Alberta Environmental Network, suggesting MacDonald was acting for some other, unnamed client. (And for the record again, AltaLink insists it did not hire any PIs, including MacDonald.)

You know what? In a free and democratic society, the state does not normally hire private detectives to spy on citizens. If the EUB was sincerely worried about threats of violence, it could have called independent officers from the RCMP to investigate — officers who wouldn’t have been in the pay of the EUB, officers who would have had to worry about things like search warrants and probable cause and the Charter of Rights.

That’s what makes the EUB’s actions so disturbing. The board tried to do an end-run around civil liberties by contracting out surveillance work to a private company. For a quasi-judicial body to behave in the way that’s alleged, in the midst of a hearing, is reprehensible.

I’m speechless on this one. Someone in the AUEB had a case of very very poor judgement on this one. For a Public Board to hire a PI to spy on a group of ordinary Albertans is completely unaccetable.

What is even more confusing is Ed Stelmach‘s poor judgment in defending the AEUB’s spying tactics. Honest Ed, eh?

(*Cough* Spelling errors corrected – thanks, Bee)