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.

Alberta Tourism Ed Stelmach Greenpeace

alberta and greenpeace: tourists at home and abroad.

Agree or disagree with their intentions and methods, it is hard to not be fascinated with the recent Greenpeace actions across Alberta at oilsands extraction sites near Fort McMurray and a Shell smokestack near Fort Saskatchewan. These live-streamed-to-the-world actions are part of a new reality as our province becomes more internationally known for our energy resources and the results of the extraction practices that we allow the oil companies to use.

The stunted political discourse in Alberta may continue to focus on the folly of a $2 billion carbon capture scheme, but Albertans should know that much of the international discourse around energy and the environment is centered around the decisions that will be made at the Copenhagen Conference in December 2009.

The reaction to the Greenpeace actions from our politicians was as provincialist as I expected. Premier Ed Stelmach, perhaps still perturbed over Greenpeace dropping in at a PC Party fundraiser, was reportedly fuming when he declared that the government would not “put up with this kind of behaviour again.” Rather than taking the high-ground in this debate, Stelmach was then quoted saying something that I found to be quite debasing:

“Most of these protesters are from outside the country of Canada. They are really tourists telling us how we should develop our resources.”

The Alberta government has spent hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars being tourists. In an attempt to attract international attention and investment the Alberta government operates trade offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Munich, London, Mexico City, and Washington DC. The Alberta government spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to send Cabinet Ministers and MLAs to international conferences around the world as representatives of our natural resources. This year, the Alberta government spent $25 million on an advertising campaign in an attempt to re-brand the oilsands after the unfortunate Anatidae family incident.

I do not oppose the Alberta government representing our province overseas, I encourage it. But I expect that as our Cabinet Ministers and MLAs wine and dine at expensive international cocktail parties, that they appreciate of subtle shades of responses that the international attention they desire will draw. Just as the Alberta government sends its tourists around the world, our elected officials would be fools to not expect international organizations like Greenpeace to spend resources being tourists in our backyard.

Alberta Budget 2009 David Swann Greenpeace Iris Evans Lindsay Blackett Lindsey Telfer Mike Hudema Neil Waugh Paul Hinman Photo Post Rachel Notley Sierra Club Ted Morton

photo post: alberta budget 2009.

Finance Minister Iris Evans.

Official Opposition Liberal leader David Swann.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley.

Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman.

Lindsey Telfer from the Sierra Club and Mike Hudema from Greenpeace.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel.

Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett.

My favorite: Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton and fan Neil Waugh.
Alberta Budget 2009 Carbon Capture Scheme Greenpeace

alberta budget 2009: 15-year deficit special edition.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to watch tomorrow’s provincial budget announcement from the Public Members Gallery in the Alberta Legislature, and as previous years (2008, 2007, 2005), I will be reporting back with my thoughts, critiques, and analysis of the 2009 Alberta Budget soon after the announcement.

Also, in a pre-budget action, Greenpeace has buried $600 on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature to protest the $2 billion that the provincial government is spending on Carbon Capture Storage.