Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 9/03/2010

– Dr. David Schindler‘s oilsands toxins report stirred the pot this week and United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is coming to Canada to talk oilsands.
– Remember the Gap boycott of the oilsands? It turns out it was all made up.
– The Calgary Herald has called for Speaker Ken Kowalski‘s resignation over politically-motivated attempts to censor the Wildrose Alliance.
– The Legislative Assembly is set to reconvene this fall. The official calendar has the sitting scheduled for October 25, but I have heard talk of the Assembly reconvening as early as the second or third week of September.
– The ongoing saga of the financially insolvent Health Resource Centre continues. David Climenhaga has written some excellent blog posts on this topic. The Calgary Chapter of the Friends of Medicare are organizing a rally at HRC on September 10 at 10am.
Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman has released a new video encouraging Albertans to get involved in the discussion about land use and conservation in the Athabasca region.
Ernie Isley is seeking a third-term as Mayor of Bonnyville. Mr. Isley was first elected Mayor in 2004 and previously served as a provincial Cabinet Minister and PC MLA for Bonnyville from 1979 until 1993 when he was unseated by Liberal Leo Vasseur.
Vulcan County Councillor Ian Donovan is seeking the Wildrose nomination in Little Bow to run against long-time PC MLA Barry McFarland. Mr. McFarland was first elected in a 1992 by-election.
Melissa Blake is standing for re-election as Mayor of Wood Buffalo.
– The Social Credit Party has lost their website.
– Former Premier’s Office staffer and current Assistant to the Energy Minister David Heyman is working on Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr‘s bid for Mayor of Calgary. Former Liberal strategist Donn Lovett is in candidate Barb Higgins‘ camp. Mr. Hehr’s 2008 campaign manager Chima Nkemdirim is the campaign director for Naheed Nenshi‘s Mayoral campaign (Mr. Nkemdirim is also the President of the new Alberta Party).
– The Alberta Party recently hired former Greater Edmonton Alliance lead organizer Michael Walters as their Provincial Organizer and released a video as part of their announcement:

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

Alberta Politics

oil sands toxin-levels report stirs the pot.

A recent peer-reviewed study from researchers including University of Alberta Professor David Schindler has raised some serious questions about the level of oil sands caused toxins in the Athabasca River and the regime that is supposed to monitor these toxin levels. Speaking to the media, Dr. Schindler offered some strong words against claims by the government and industry that the toxin levels are natural.

Environment Minister Rob Renner responded by telling reporters that his scientists have told him that the amount of compounds detected in the Athabasca River are “not a concern and are of insignificant levels.” Liberal leader David Swann and NDP MLA Rachel Notley jumped on the opportunity and offered their support for Dr. Schindler’s report. Wildrose Alliance MLAs have remained suspiciously silent on this important environmental debate.

The Stand with Fort Chipewyan group reminded Albertans that this is not the first time the toxins issue has been raised:

“When Fort Chipewyan residents demanded the government look into whether oilsands activity was contributing to the community’s high cancer rates, they were denied. They were denied because the government’s monitoring system — R.A.M.P. — indicated that there was no impact.”

And 48 hours after the report became public, Premier Ed Stelmach called for a probe:

“We’ll have the scientists sit down and compare the data. Some of the measurements, I couldn’t explain to you, but let it be discussed scientist to scientist.”

Considering that the provincial government’s current strategy to clean up the oil sands appears to revolve largely on public relations campaigns, it may take much more than simple reassurances from the Premier’s “top men” to resolve this issue: