Stelmach’s Controversial Bill 46 Will Only Hear One Hour of Debate

How’s this for democracy? When the Stelmach government starts to sweat over their Bill 46 what do they do?

Listen to the people? Nope.

Premier Ed Stelmach has instead decided to limit debate on Bill 46 to one hour and ramrod through the bill though by this Thursday.

“That will bring the total amount (of debate) spent on Bill 46 at this stage to five hours,” said Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, who earlier asked the government to extend the session instead of cutting off debate.

Stelmach To Ramrod Through Bill 46 This Thursday

Instead of listening to the concerns of Alberta rural landowners, the Stelmach government has called for closure this Thursday on Bill 46.

Closure means that time limits will be put on debate and, no matter the opposition to Bill 46, or concerns by opposition parties, the Bill will pass this Thursday.

Opposition members, have called for an all-party legislative committee that could hear from all affected organizations and concerned citizens, but instead has chosen to rush Bill 46 through and hope that we’ll all forget about it over Christmas.

The “Credibility Gap” in Stelmach’s Bill 46

Stelmach and the Alberta Tories are ramrodding through Bill 46 – they have invoked closure on the Bill and as Neil Waugh points out in the Edmonton Sun, the Stelmach government will pass a Bill that was a failure from the beginning and will see massive outrage from Alberta’s rural landowners.

Stelmach’s $26,000 Bill 46 Ad Campaign

The Stelmach Tories have spent $26,000 of taxpayers money to convince landowners that Bill 46 will not violate landowner rights in Alberta.

Here’s an article Canadian Press:

Some are calling it a propaganda war.

The Alberta government, taken aback by reaction to a proposed law that will reshape how energy and utility projects are approved, is now pushing hard to sell its merits.

For Premier Ed Stelmach’s Progressive Conservatives, facing an election in 2008, the stakes are high. The loudest grumbling about Bill 46 has come from landowners in the Tory heartland of rural Alberta.

They fear the new law would strip their right to appear at hearings into various projects, including utility corridors that would dot hundreds of farms with transmission towers.

The government spent $26,000 last week on ads in 133 rural newspapers promoting the merits of the legislation, which the government is ramming through the legislature with closure motions. Landowners are fighting back with a publicity campaign of their own.

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Bill 46 outrage fuels protest

A protest against a controversial overhaul of the province’s energy regulator drew nearly 100 people to the steps of the legislature this afternoon.

The rally attracted a noisy group of landowners, environmentalists and other opponents of contentious Bill 46 despite icy temperatures and frigid winds.

A busload of about 20 people from southern Alberta attended the rally. Many carried placards and chanted “Kill Bill 46!”

“Ed Stelmach has the audacity to tell us that this new bill protects our rights,” Joe Anglin, one of the event’s organizers, told the crowd. “It removes our rights all together.”

From the Edmonton Journal , read the rest of the article here.

Gov‘t releases Bill 46 amendments after protest at the legislature

he Alberta government is scrambling to salvage a contentious bill aimed at reshaping the rules for public hearings into energy and utility projects _ a major issue for some landowners and utility companies.

Energy Minister Mel Knight announced a long list of amendments Tuesday that he plans to introduce in a few days in the hope of quieting growing protests over Bill 46.

“What I‘ve done in the amendments is address to the best of our ability the major concerns that Albertans have expressed,‘‘ said Knight.

The proposed amendments were announced only minutes after a protest at the legislature by dozens of angry landowners. They fear Bill 46 is designed to stifle them after an embarrassing spying scandal that unfolded during recent hearings into a major power line project.

Joe Anglin, a landowner who was part of a group that was spied on by private detectives hired by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, said the amendments can‘t fix the bill.

“This is a bad bill for not only people like us, this is a bad bill for industry,‘‘ Anglin told the crowd of nearly 100 protesters who rallied in the bitter cold outside the legislature.

Check out the rest of the article here.  

Alta premier says changes coming to bill proposing energy regulatory duties split

Premier Ed Stelmach says changes are coming to proposed legislation that many Alberta landowners say would restrict their participation in energy hearings.

Stelmach told a meeting of rural municipal leaders that his government will amend Bill 46 next week to change some wording on who would qualify to take part in such hearings.

Bill 46 aims to restructure the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board as well as eliminate funding to consumer and environmental groups taking part in oilwell and power line hearings.

The premier says “you can‘t please all the people all the time‘‘ and the legislation is necessary because Alberta needs more power lines.

Click here to read the entire article.

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