Nixon: Bighorn Proposal “The worst consultation process that I’ve seen”
Alberta’s Environment Minister Jason Nixon confirmed Tuesday that the new United Conservative Party government will scrap the controversial conservation plan in Bighorn Country.
Lethbridge-West MLA, and Nixon’s predecessor, Shannon Phillips was at the forefront of the now derailed effort to create eight new parks covering 4,000 square kilometers in what is known as Bighorn Country along the eastern edges of Banff and Jasper national parks.
During a fractious period of consultation on the proposed project, Phillips had to cancel a number of local consultations alleging “bullying, abuse and concerns over personal safety.”
She later admitted to misspeaking, but continued to avoid consultation talks with Sunchild, Stoney, Alexis Sioux First Nations.
The proposal under then Minister Phillips called for $40 million to be dispersed over five years for essential infrastructure and campsites.
“It was the worst consultation process that I’ve seen,” Nixon stated.
“All of the First Nations communities in the area and all of the municipalities in the area have outright rejected the NDP’s plan.”
Residents and municipal officials have raised concerns about how the proposal might affect oil and gas exploration, the forestry industry, and off-road vehicle use.
“Second, there was a tremendous amount of economic concerns and questions that were not answered. There was also some environmental questions and concerns that were not answered.”
Nixon says the province will return to the North Saskatchewan regional planning process to better understand economic and environmental implications for the area.
Phillips feels this goes against protecting conversation, noting that most Albertans were in support for the Bighorn Proposal.
“Clearly this new minister is not interested in conservation, which is not surprising considering his record,” she said in a statement.
During the election campaign, UCP Candidate Kara Barker voiced her concern that the government had not properly considered the importance of consulting local residents, many of whom would be impacted by the Bighorn proposal.
It’s “our duty to consult,” she states. “Minister Phillips’ lack of consultation on the grounds of a phony RCMP investigation was concerning.” Noting a ‘lack of safety’ ultimately earned the Environment Minister a new title: “Minister of Hyperbole.”
The Post Millennial had the opportunity to follow up with Barker on the recent developments on Bighorn.
Scrapping the proposal “was necessary,” she states. “I would agree with Minister Nixon that the consultation process did not actively involve Indigenous people, nor other key stakeholder groups.”
Barker found the lack of consultations “appalling,” citing “it wasn’t done in a fair way.”
Upon reviewing the North Saskatchewan regional planning process, she thought it was “a really a good strategy” because it incorporated a more fair and balanced approach.
“A lot of the key stakeholder groups, with interests in ranching to extracting minerals from the area, including people concerned about conservation would be consulted. If one really takes a robust read about it, surely, it addresses a lot of those issues that constituents would be concerned about.”
Five students are still in critical condition following a collision between a crane and a school bus in Smoky Lake, Alberta Monday morning.
The crash happened around 8:30 am on Monday near Range Road 180 along the highway according to the Edmonton Journal. The bus was attempting to cross the highway when the collision took place.
The bus was en route to H.A. Kostash, a K-12 school and confirmed to be carrying 14 students by Aspen View Public Schools.
A total of 16 patients had to be assessed by emergency services and or are currently in hospital.
Three of the students had to be airlifted to hospital by STARS and Alberta Health Services said they’re in critical condition. Two more students also had to be transported by ground ambulance in critical condition as well.
A man and a child were also taken in by ground ambulance to Edmonton, both of whom are in stable condition although they have both sustained serious injuries.
One additional patient in stable condition had to be transported to the hospital.
The driver of the crane was also brought to the hospital with minor injuries and the crane’s sole passenger was luckily not injured.
Locals in Smoky Lake have shown a great sense of community by starting a Gofundme page in an attempt to raise funds for the victims and their families. Already, more than $3600 has been raised of the set $10,000 total goal.
Editor’s Note: If you need help, or know someone who does, please call Alberta’s Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-303-2642.
According to a source on the scene, there has been a suicide at the Alberta Legislature. The interruption has prompted the Legislature to be delayed, as the Legislature buildings are on lockdown.
“I hate to interrupt, however there is an issue that is important to the assembly,” said speaker Nathan Cooper said to the assembly after being notified by security. “I’d just like to take a five-minute recess. If both members of the assembly want to pop into their respective lounges, I’d be happy to provide an update in a moment.”
Members of the assembly left the chamber at 3:15 p.m, according to a source.
According to a source on the scene, a suicide took place on the steps of The Legislative Assembly of Alberta in Edmonton.
“Both buildings are in lockdown right now. Nobody can come in or out,” said the anonymous source on the scene.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condolences at around 5 p.m.
“Saddened by the tragic event that occurred outside the Legislature this afternoon,” he said in a tweet. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family & loved ones.”
NDP Leader Rachel Notley tweeted similar sentiments.
“My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the individual involved in today’s tragic incident,” she said in a tweet.
According to information from the Alberta Legislature library, this isn’t the first instance of someone taking their life at the building.
In October 1977, Guenter Hummel entered the building with a gun in his bag. He proceeded into the office of culture minister Horst Schmid’s office, where he killed Scmid’s secretary who was Hummel’s former girlfriend, then killing himself.
A new online poll conducted by the Canadian Press has shown that Andrew Scheer has less than 50 percent support from Canadians who self-identify as Conservatives, according to CKOM.
Just 48 percent of Conservative supporters say they want Andrew Scheer to continue as leader. 40 percent want him to resign, while 12 percent remain undecided.
This comes as another bad news story for the Conservative leader who will require a far greater majority in his leadership review in April of next year. The precedent in Candian politics is that leaders who undergo reviews should receive a much higher portion of the vote than just 50 percent.
Stephan Harper, for example, won over 85% of the vote in his leadership review after his 2004 election loss. It has been broadly considered that 75 percent of the vote is the bare minimum for an incumbent leader to continue his tenure.
The survey was conducted from Nov. 15-25 and over 3,000 Canadians participated.
Recently, Andrew Scheer has received significant pressure from the Conservative base to resign. This criticism previously derived from the Red Tory faction of the party when Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose criticized his leadership.
Peter MacKay, for instance, declared that issues like abortion and LGBTQ issues “hung round [Scheer’s] neck like a stinking albatross.” MacKay went on to say that this election was like “having an open net and missing the net.”
Another prominent Conservative politician, Ed Fast, who served in Harper’s cabinet as the trade secretary, declined a position in Scheer’s cabinet, saying that the leader needed someone who “fully supports” his leadership.
Soon after, the Globe and Mail reported that the social conservative wing of the party had begun to abandon Scheer. One former Conservative MP, Brad Trost, said in the article that “A lot of social conservatives have no interest whatsoever in backing Andrew Scheer.”
Last week, Scheer suffered another setback after a third-party organization was created by a group of prominent figures within the Conservative movement. This group, Conservative Victory, is devoted entirely to the ousting of Scheer.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) appears to be preparing for a fight for increased autonomy with the Trudeau government.
In their first annual meeting, members voted on through informal straw polls on a series of issues aimed at getting a “fair deal” from the Trudeau government.
From the province’s potential tax collection agency to the police force, trade relationships, pension plan, and firearms watchdog, members voted in large groups to support autonomy and further pull away from Ottawa.
A panel weighing those ideas is to complete its report by March 31.
“We are not seeking a special deal. We are simply seeking a fair deal,” Premier Jason Kenney told party faithful.
While not backing the secession movement, Wexit, the move to fight for autonomy is not surprising. Polls have placed Alberta’s desire to potentially declare independence close to if not higher than the separatist-prone province of Quebec.