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Wikileaks breaks Alberta scandal

Wikileaks has recently released messages from Ottawa to Washington from 2003 and 2008. In these leaked cables, the feds are offering to export power south of the border. In 2009, the province passed several controversial pieces of legislation.

Wikileaks has recently released messages from Ottawa to Washington from 2003 and 2008. In these leaked cables, the feds are offering to export power south of the border. In 2009, the province passed several controversial pieces of legislation. One of which is Bill 50, the Electric Statutes Amendment Act. This bill gives cabinet the authority to build power lines without a needs assessment or public hearings. The government has been telling us all along that the new power lines were NOT for export.

The cost of the planned power line build is about $16 billion. The full cost of this would be absorbed by the public, not the companies that will own and profit from them. (Altalink and ATCO.) Anyone who gets a power bill would be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Altalink's board is stuffed with ex-conservative politicians and insiders and is owned by SNC Lavalin, a company that's been making big profits at public expense for decades. (Nuclear, defence contracts)

Ted Morton has announced he will be seeking leadership of the Conservative Party in Alberta. He is now trying to distance himself from the power line scandal that is brewing as people wake up to the mischief that their elected officials have been up to. Morton now says he never did agree with Bill 50. When asked by media why he didn't speak up sooner, Morton said he kept silent to maintain “Caucus solidarity”. We can safely assume that if the power line fiasco hadn't become public info, he would still be silent on the issue. Apparently Mr. Morton would allow the people of Alberta to be ripped off for billions just to maintain “Caucus solidarity”. Is he running for office or is he scurrying?

The controversy over this issue has grown from just a handful of whistle-blowers, to mainstream organizations such as the Association of Industrial Power Consumers of Alberta, and all opposition parties in the province expressing alarm at the costs of the project. IPCAA estimates that power rates for industry could triple, driving businesses out of the province. Every independent study that has been done shows the plan under Bill 50 to be a massive overbuild. IPCAA president Sheldon Fulton said “It's essentially a public wealth transfer to a company in Montreal.” (SNC Lavalin)

People are starting to call for a judicial inquiry into the whole mess. It's time to examine the life cycle of our politicians and the blurred line between government and the industries that they're supposed to regulate. If cabinet members have serious concerns, they should have the courage to speak up when it can do some good. Now that the cat is out of the bag, politicians are trying to run away from the mess that they helped create. Honesty, integrity and accountability seem to have no place in party politics of the day.

The good news is that it's getting more difficult to fool people in the new information age. To read an excellent article by Andrew Nikiforuk, just google: “Wikileaks Alberta scandal.”

Brent Reese

North Star, Alta.