Dave Hancock. Jonathan Denis Ed Stelmach Fred Lindsay Gene Zwozdesky George Groenveld Iris Evans Janis Tarchuk Lloyd Snelgrove Luke Ouellette Mel Knight Ray Danyluk Ron Liepert Ted Morton

alberta cabinet shuffle: a lot of hype.

I am not going to write a lot about today’s cabinet shuffle, as there really is not much substance to write about. While three new MLAs have been appointed to the cabinet, the problems facing Premier Ed Stelmach are much larger than anything a minor cabinet shuffle can solve. Today’s cabinet change was hardly the dramatic change that it was hyped to be.

Going political and trying to head off the insurgent Wildrose Alliance at the hard-conservative pass was one goal of today’s shuffle. This explains the appointment of Ted Morton as Finance Minister. If he can survive in Finance, Premier Stelmach may have just anointed Morton as his unofficial successor. Minister Morton will have a high-profile new role, but much of the Government’s financial levers will remain held by Stelmach-loyalist and Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove.

Newly appointed Housing and Urban Affairs & Housing Minister Jonathan Denis is known as nice guy, but also as a pretty comfortable hyper-partisan. Some people I have spoken with expect him to fulfil a political role similar to his former business partner, Pierre Poilievre.

Loyalty was big. Stelmach confidants Luke Ouellette, Ray Danyluk, Iris Evans, and Mel Knight all remain in cabinet. George Groeneveld, Janis Tarchuk, and Fred Lindsay were rightfully bumped out of the cabinet. Not surprisingly, Ron Liepert‘s departed Health & Wellness to Energy. Where, as Paula Simons suggested that “he’ll use his unique brand of charm to win new friends and influence more people.” His successor, Gene Zwozdesky will likely bring a more easy going face to one of the more heavy-lifting portfolios in government.

Look for more substantive content in the Ministerial Mandate Letters later this week and the February 9 Provincial Budget.

Alberta Oil Sands Brian Beresh Ed Stelmach Fred Lindsay Greenpeace Mike Hudema

alberta and greenpeace: claims of political interference.

At a media conference on the steps of the Alberta Legislature this afternoon, lawyer Brian Beresh raised concerns that comments by Premier Ed Stelmach and Solicitor General Fred Lindsay could constitute political interference in Alberta’s judicial system. Beresh, who is representing Greenpeace activists recently arrested in Fort Saskatchewan and Fort McMurray, told reporters that he was stunned by Stelmach’s comments that protesters who trespass at oil and gas facilities should face harsher punishments and Lindsay’s musing about using the province’s counter-terrorism provisions against protesters.

Alberta and Greenpeace: Brian BereshAlberta and Greenpeace: Mike Hudema

With no evidence that the legal system is not working as it should be, it is being suggested by some legal experts that Stelmach’s comments may have hurt the prosecution’s case in court. In a media release, Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema was quoted stating that “most of us learned in Grade 5 that it is fundamental to our legal system that there must be a separation between the premier and the judicial process.” Beresh noted that the tone of the bail negotiations changed after Premier Stelmach’s public comments, implying that the release of the activists in Fort Saskatchewan was made more difficult because of the Premier.

Via twitter, my friend Chris Henderson put it best:

Special penalties for protesting is tantamount to suppressing free speech. Punish trespassing, not dissent.

Related Post:
Alberta and Greenpeace: It’s about site security, stupid!
Alberta and Greenpeace: Tourists home and abroad.

Alberta Oil Sands Alberta Security and Strategic Intelligence Support Team Ed Stelmach Fred Lindsay Greenpeace

alberta and greenpeace: it’s about site security, stupid!

Following recent actions by Greenpeace, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and Solicitor General Fred Lindsay have suggested that protesters who trespass at oil and gas facilities should face harsher punishments.

I have no doubt that the two politicians are eager to see justice dealt, but at this point in time there does not appear to be any evidence to suggest that our legal system is not working as it should be. The protesters have been arrested and are now facing charges of trespassing and mischief.

There are a number of obvious root causes of these incidents and none of them have to do with getting tough on crime. While attempting to focus international media attention on Alberta’s oilsands before the Copenhagen Conference, Greenpeace activists planning and executing actions like these know what they are doing is illegal and they don’t care. Instead of blaming the legal system, Stelmach and Lindsay should take real action by 1) articulating why their vision for oilsands development is the right one for Alberta, Canada and the world; and 2) improving public confidence in how our most valuable nature resources are being safeguarded.

What is the state of security in Alberta’s oilsands?

Just as a confidential report prepared by sector experts has highlighted serious concerns about security in the oilsands, Shell is now taking productive steps by publicly vowing to review facility security. While the conclusions have now been contradicted by the evidence presented through Greenpeace’s canoe-paddling incursion skillz, Solicitor General Lindsay described the provincial security plan as “one of the most comprehensive in the country” in the Legislative Assembly on February 19, 2009.

Mr. Richard Marz: My first question is to the Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. What measures are in place to protect Alberta’s energy resources such as the oil sands?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Lindsay: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This government does have a plan in place to protect all critical infrastructure in our province. The Alberta counterterrorism crisis management plan emphasizes the use of intelligence from a range of sources to identify, mitigate, or prevent a security threat before it occurs, and the Alberta Security and Strategic Intelligence Support Team gathers, analyzes, distributes critical intelligent information to industry and law enforcement. Partnership and collaboration between government, industry, and law enforcement is the backbone of our counterterrorism plan.

Mr. Marz: My final question, Mr. Speaker, to the same minister. There have been several pipeline bombings in northwestern British Columbia in the past few months. What assurance can the minister provide that pipelines in Alberta will be protected from attacks such as the ones in B.C.?

Mr. Lindsay: Mr. Speaker, the Alberta government takes the security of our energy resources very seriously. There is no indication that Alberta Energy infrastructure is at risk, and our threat level remains low. However, we will continue to work with the oil and gas industry and law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of the industry. Our counterterrorism and crisis management plan is regarded as one of the most comprehensive in the country and is continually reviewed to make sure it meets the stringent requirements of both government and industry.

Related Post: Alberta and Greenpeace: Tourists home and abroad.

Alison Redford Bridget Pastoor Dave Hancock Doug Horner Fred Lindsay Gene Zwozdesky Heather Klimchuk Iris Evans Jack Hayden Lloyd Snelgrove Luke Ouellette Rob Renner Ron Stevens TILMA

no debate on public debate amendment [re: bill 18 & tilma].

They stood up to vote against it, but no PC MLA spoke up to explain why they opposed Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor‘s March 18 amendment to remove Section 5 of Bill 18: Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement Implementation Statutes Amendment Act, 2009. In its current form, Section 5 will allow Cabinet Ministers to suspend or modify sections of the TILMA Act without seeking the approval of or having to deal with public debate in the elected Legislature.

Six opposition MLAs rose to speak in support of the amendment, while thirty-one PC MLAs, including Cabinet Ministers Iris Evans, Dave Hancock, Jack Hayden, Doug Horner, Heather Klimchuk, Fred Lindsay, Luke Ouellette, Alison Redford, Rob Renner, Lloyd Snelgrove, Ron Stevens, and Gene Zwozdesky didn’t make a peep before defeating the amendment 31 to 6.

UPDATE: MLA Laurie Blakeman raised concerns about this section of Bill 18 earlier in the week: