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Stelmach Asked For Public Inquiry Into EUB Spying

(Edmonton/Calgary/Ottawa) The Sierra Club of Canada today called for a public inquiry into the extent of covert operations against citizens by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB), and issued a list of unanswered questions that an inquiry should address. On this opening day of EUB hearings in Pincher Creek on Royal Dutch Shell's Mount Backus well application, Sierra Club believes that confidence in the EUB and the Energy Department won’t be restored until a full public inquiry is completed.

"A government spying on its citizens is a fundamental assault on democracy," said Executive Director Stephen Hazell. "Nothing less than a public inquiry can restore faith in the protection of Albertans’ democratic rights."

In a letter sent to Premier Stelmach today, Sierra Club urges him to initiate a public inquiry under the Alberta Public Inquiries Act. The Act authorizes Cabinet to establish a public inquiry into a matter "connected with the good government of Alberta or the conduct of the public business of Alberta" or "declared by Cabinet to be a matter of public concern."

"Citizens have the right to defend public land against the onslaught by the energy sector without being subjected to intimidation tactics," said Prairie Chapter Director Lindsay Telfer, citing the rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

A report commissioned by the Energy Minister (the "Perras Report") released yesterday leaves Sierra Club asking to what extent covert actions have been undertaken by the EUB in connection with other controversial energy projects. For example Shell’s proposed Mount Backus well, the subject of hearings beginning today, is in the area of the long-controversial Shell Waterton operations. The proposed sour gas well directly affects the residents of Beaver Mines and area.

"There is a precedent for a public inquiry into the Alberta government, the Board and the energy industry," said Dianne Pachal, Director of Sierra Club’s Alberta Wild campaign.

In 1973, N.R. Crump head up the Alberta Grande Cache Commission inquiry into the government’s development of the town of Grande Cache for the opening of the McIntyre-Porcupine coal mine approved by the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board. That board was amalgamated with the Alberta Utilities Board in 1995 to form the present EUB.

Among the unanswered questions that must be addressed through a public inquiry the Sierra Club lists:

  • How long has the EUB been undertaking covert activities? What are all the energy applications and reviews where it engaged in any covert activities?
  • Were any government ministries or other government agencies aware the EUB was engaged in covert activities?
  • What information was collected through covert activities, who all was the information relayed and where is that information now? Did other government agencies or any ministry make use of the information?
  • How widespread is this problem? What other government agencies or ministries have been using this tactic against citizens?
  • Were project proponents aware of any of the EUB’s covert activities? To what extent were they involved? Did they have access to information obtained by covert activities?
  • When exactly did the Minister and Premier become aware that covert activities were being used by a government agency?
  • To what extent has the mandate the government gave the EUB fostered a culture whereby covert activities were deemed appropriate?

For more information:

Lindsay Telfer, Executive Director, Prairie Chapter, Sierra Club of Canada (780) 710-0136
Dianne Pachal, Alberta WILD Director, Sierra Club of Canada (403) 234-7368
Stephen Hazell, Executive Director, Sierra Club of Canada, (613) 241-4611

Posted September 19, 2007 by Anonymous

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