Saturday, August 18, 2007

Transparency Alberta Style

It has not been a good week for Alberta CEO Ed Stelmach, his regime has failed to be transparent as promised. Just another week of scandal for the tired old Tories.

NDP say Alberta Energy and Utilities Board aware of spying on power line opponents

EUB coverup shocking

Fire AEUB directors, Mason urges

And it just gets better. The party of rural Alberta screws rural Albertans. And the guy doing the screwing is non other than the California Born, Republican wannabe,and Herr professor of the Calgary School; Ted Morton. A guy who ran for the Premiers job appealing to the social conservative rural base of the Tory party.
Like Marie Lake, everything is for sale in this oil-rich province

NIMBY bites Premier Stelmach
Time to review industrial development, Tory MLA says

Alberta’s sustainable resources minister can’t guarantee seismic testing won’t hurt pristine Marie Lake and says he won’t release other seismic studies supporting the decision to allow the tests.

Still, he conceded, damage is possible. “Sure, it’s a question of risk management. But as I said this has been done on six other lakes with no evidence of adverse effects.”

Morton said the government has the legal right to reject seismic testing applications, but to shut off the exploratory process that early wouldn’t be fair to the company and wouldn’t make sense. His department noted that 34 other lakes have been tested in a similar manner in the last five years, and would not provide details of what took place in the other 28 cases.

The public has no reason to trust the government if it won’t even release the studies that support its decision, said Marie Lake resident Hal Bekolay.

“I can’t use the language I want to use to describe this,” he said. “But what it shows me is their complete lack of caring. It’s unbelievable that people we’ve elected choose to do this to us.” Now local residents want their MLA, Tory Denis Ducharme, to back up his earlier complaint about the testing by crossing the floor and sitting with another party or as an independent, said Bekolay.

Anywhere else in Canada and this would cry out for a comment from Democracy Watch. But in Alberta it's business as usual.

NDP condemns Suncor exec's gov't job

NDP question Suncor executive's appointment
Alberta defends decision to appoint Suncor executive as assistant deputy minister
EDMONTON (CP) _ The Alberta government is defending its decision to appoint a Suncor Energy executive as assistant deputy minister of its oilsands sustainable development secretariat.

Bart Johnson, a spokesman for the Treasury Board, says the government has set up safeguards against any conflict of interest.

Johnson says Heather Kennedy can‘t buy or sell any Suncor shares during her two-year appointment and must excuse herself from any decisions pertaining to Suncor.

He said Suncor will continue paying Kennedy during her two years with the government, but the province will reimburse the oilsands company.

NDP Leader Brian Mason has suggested Kennedy‘s appointment shows just how far the Progressive Conservatives have crawled into the pockets of big oil.

The oilsands secretariat reports to the Treasury Board.
And while we weep for the lack of democracy in the Banana Republic of Alberta, one of the last One Party States in the world, it just keeps getting worse....

Oil royalties going down?

Report Says Alberta Losing Oil Money

Alberta's oil royalties could drop: report

Not only do we sell off our resources at fire sale prices, Albertans could be taken to the cleaners by both Big Oil and the Federal Government while our tin pot Tory tyranny twiddles its thumbs.

In his study for Alberta Energy, Calgary-based consultant Pedro van Meurs said the proposal – which would allow companies to calculate royalty payments on a choice of either the finished synthetic crude product or the tar-sands bitumen from which it is extracted – could lead to two significantly different outcomes.

The companies being offered the new plans, Suncor and Syncrude, have until this year to decide which to opt into.

If the companies opt for royalties based on synthetic crude, Alberta’s royalty rates will be 8% higher than if it opts for a rate based on unprocessed bitumen, says Van Meurs.

If Alberta allows them to choose the latter, recent changes to federal tax laws mean the federal take will increase while Alberta’s take decreases, he indicates.

“It is very obvious that Alberta is faced with a very high level of royalty reduction, when under the Suncor and Syncrude terms companies opt for a switch to bitumen values from SCO values,” he notes.

He said the switch “will result in a drop of about 8% in the overall government take. However, that drop is only experienced by Alberta, the federal share actually goes up, since royalties are now deductible for tax purposes.

While Stelmach's blustered and fumed over the forces of Kyoto at the Premiers meeting last week, the reality is that under Klein, and now Stelmach, Alberta's oil resources are being sold off on a future promise. In reality the royalty regime in the province benefits big oil and everyone but Albertans.

There is no nasty Federal NEP that can be blamed for this, just tired old AlbertaTories, in the pockets of big oil.

It not been a good week for Stelmach who should have been basking in the glory of his victory over the discombobulated gaggle of Premiers who could not save the planet due to their limited provincial narcissism.

Stelmach is rumored to be considering a fall election, while realistically it probably won't be held in the winter but next spring.

Of course considering how badly he has botched his first six months in office an election sooner rather than later might be the only thing that will save his regime. For a short time. But like the former One Party that was in Power for 35 years, this one is bound to go. It's the law of entropy as well as history.

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