Despite the fact that Lethbridge-West MLA and current finance critic Shannon Phillips is not impressed with the survey put out by the UCP Coal Committee garnering opinions to
While in power during the previous term, the former NDP Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office was heavily involved in protecting the environment in the southwest corner of the province.
Phillips is quite strong in her displeasure in the mining involved along the Eastern Slopes and is quite direct when she describes what she thinks of the survey Energy Minister Sonya Savage and the coal committee has put forth.
“The public should participate in the survey even though the survey is a manipulative, deceptive exercise aimed, as far as I could tell, arriving at the answers that the government already wants â€” that is conveyed in finding a way to manipulate the question to find support for strip mining the mountain and polluting the headwatersâ€¦ when you take the survey you can see where they are trying to lead you down that path,” explains Phillips in a phone interview last week. “The other goal is to demonstrate the people who don’t want a strip mining of the mountain or polluting of the water are somehow less informed than thy ought to be, since the survey asks you questions about how much you know about these issues, as if you’re only allowed to have an opinion as an Albertan if you’re a subject-matter expert. That is nonsense and it is designed to dismiss ordinary people who are not scientists or engineers; they dismiss their opinions based on a lack of knowledge. That is just vile in terms of its approach and it is absolutely consistent of the behaviour of this government.”
Despite that open disdain for the survey, Phillips does say that Albertans should certainly participate in what she describes as the “relatively manipulative process” of the UCP has Albertan asked to speak out. Phillips states the UCP claim they are listening which she says “is false.” She says if the UCP members were listening, they would commit to passing the legislation that was proposed by NDP leader Rachel Notley at the legislature April 5.
“Rachel Notley introduced a bill on April 5 that would completely outlaw coal mining in the areas that are in the most beautiful areas of the mountains adjacent to Castle Mountain, Kananaskis and it would stop and cancel the existing the exploration work that is going on as a result of the UCP trying to push through the coal mines under the cover of a pandemic last year and hide them from Albertans.
“We proposed this law because Albertans have already spoken. Albertans have spoken loud and clear across every possible background to political opinion, city, towns, rural, Indigenous, non-indigenous people across this province, Albertans have spoken out against strip mining the mountain. So now, the government has proposed that Albertans speak out again. They certainly should do that. Polls show that three quarters of Albertans are against the UCP’s plan of strip mine the mountains and pollute the headwaters.
“Despite those many failings it reveals a fundamentally flaw with character in this government. Albertans should fill it out and they should make their feelings knows to their MLA via signing petitions, by going on line and making sure their MLA is being sent a letter, the variant tools there areâ€¦there are signs popping up just as it was with the parks, healthcare and certainly in Lethbridge around post secondary education, but there are many, many signs and banners in other ways people are making their feelings known.”
Phillips says the outward protests with previous issues such as delisting provincial parks, for example, seemed to work. She says there are a lot of protest signs along Highway 2 on rural properties between Calgary and Lethbridge.
There have also been recent drive in and social distant protests in Southern Alberta and she is positive there will be more protests in Alberta as the weeks carry on.
“Those are respectful ways in a democracy to engage with a government that has proven that they are not interested in respectful engagement with citizens, but that doesn’t matter. Just because someone treats you disrespectfully, that you treat them disrespectfully back, you just keep going. Keep raising our voices in a way that is consistent with our rights and responsibilities of citizens.”