Landowners’ fiasco – Not!

Brenda Schimke
ECA Review Journalist

When it comes to the energy and resource industry, the Progressive Conservatives, their predecessors, the Social Credit Party, and, yes, the party-in-waiting, the Wildrose Party, all have and continue to listen very carefully to what industry says.
The Wildrose Party supports Bill 2, the Responsible Energy Development Act and most of the 10 amendments they’ve proposed do more to help industry than landowners.
On October 31, Opposition Leader, Danielle Smith, in her opening statement on Bill 2 said, “I’ve heard loud and clear industries’ complaints about slow, cumbersome and often contradictory regulatory hurdles. Because of those reasons, we were excited to see the introduction of the Responsible Energy Development Act.” Although she made cursory mentions of landowners and environmentalists throughout her 5,000 word speech, her primary focus was the energy industry and its needs.

There has always been conflict between the oil and gas industry, landowners and environmentalists.  Joe Anglin, MLA, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre  argues that for landowners it’s a respect thing, not a money thing. It’s the way the industry has the power to push the landowner around.
He makes a valid point, but the landowners who fight tooth and nail against the energy industry usually do it for virtuous reasons.  They love their land more than money.  They are not prepared to accept expropriation of their land, at any cost. On the other side of the coin, there are those that hold out because they want more money than the industry is prepared to give.
The roadblock to progress and “public interest” has always been those landowners who can’t be bought at any price, and more recently, it is the environmentalists.
Bill 2, like all the other hotly debated energy-related bills, is just another piece of legislation to smooth the way for the energy sector and keep Alberta prosperous.  That’s been the Alberta story since oil was discovered in 1947.
The only political party in Alberta that truly seeks to protect individual property rights and the environment is the New Democrats.
But industry wouldn’t be happy with a ND government, and if industry weren’t happy, most Albertans wouldn’t be happy either!
Albertans demand excellent health care, education, seniors’ care and infrastructure. All come with a big price tag.  We also demand the lowest corporate and personal income tax in the country, so we’re beholden to the energy sector.
And when beholden, Statutes such as the Land Stewardship Act, the Land Assembly Project Area Act, the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, the reversal of legislation that would have seen Albertans get a fair royalty from their oil sands, and now the Responsible Energy Development Act is the price we pay for the life we live.
So all the rhetoric and fear-mongering aside, this government is doing nothing different than what previous governments did or what future governments will do.
Bill 2 is no “landowners’ fiasco”, it’s just business as usual!

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