Liberal MLA David Swann says Albertans short changed by NDP Govt rejection of his public accountability amendment to pipeline motion

Edmonton, AB – March 14th, 2018: Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says the NDP Government is losing credibility with Albertans and Canadians by rejecting my amendment calling for more transparent annual reporting on both the benefits AND the risks of increasing bitumen flows in Government’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion motion.
“It’s shameful that the NDP Government is refusing to discuss Albertans’ concerns
about both the environmental costs and financial liabilities of our oil sands industry.”

“What is the NDP Government hiding from citizens now and from future generations?’’

“There is a price to pay for increasing bitumen production to feed into the Trans Mountain pipeline and Albertans deserve to know the real environmental cost of increasing GHG emissions and the potential public cleanup bill for tailings ponds estimated at least $20 billion.”

“My amendment would have forced the Government to report annually on Alberta’s oil sands region through a transparent, full cost accounting framework.”

“The NDP Government has to do better and I will continue to demand answers and hold them to account on behalf of all Albertans.”


Liberal MLA David Swann proposes environmental accountability amendment to pipeline motion

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann is requesting to propose an environmental accountability amendment to the Government’s motion asking the Legislative Assembly to reaffirm its support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion:

Speaking on the amendment Swann stated, “Albertans expect us to hold this government to account on their environmental promises. Many Albertans want to see the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, however they are concerned about both the environmental costs and financial liabilities of our oil sands industry.”

Swann’s motion would be calling on the Legislative Assembly to address public concerns and bolster public confidence in bitumen production and pipeline transport by committing to report annually on Alberta’s oil sands region through a transparent, full cost accounting framework.

The full cost accounting framework would include both reclamation liabilities and greenhouse gas emissions.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan commented, “By committing to transparent reporting the Legislative Assembly could ease concerns and improve accountability. I am confident this would increase support for the pipeline project both at home and abroad.

“We must be willing to be honest about all environmental and reclamation costs associated with our oil sands for the good of the industry, the people of Alberta, and our environment.”

Swann will be available to media for questions at 1:15 in the rotunda of the Legislature before questions period.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann set out priorities for the 2018 spring legislative session

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann set the following issues as Liberal priorities:

Pay Equity

Alberta remains the only province without Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation. On International Women’s Day the NDP Government should be ashamed of that record. Alberta has the highest gender wage gap in Canada. Canada has the third highest gap among OECD countries.

“The Alberta Liberals are demanding proactive pay equity legislation and stronger enforcement of the Alberta Human Rights Act.”

 Pipelines

 “Alberta Liberals support the twinning of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline. We understand how important this project is to job creation and the economy in Alberta, and developing new markets for our oil & gas products. However, we must make a clear transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, especially heavy oil.”

Job Loss

 “Alberta families are still suffering from an economic recession and the recovery has been meager at best. Consumer and investor confidence are down. We’ve lost thousands of oil and gas jobs we will never get back and the jobs we are creating are lower paying.

“The only response the NDP government has offered us is a $9 billion dollar deficit and doubling down with public money on the volatile oil and gas industry. They aren’t rebuilding our economy and they are certainly not building a sustainable one.

“Alberta Liberals will push for tax reforms to encourage private investment and job creation. We will also call for carbon tax revenue to be used to develop technology that will make the oil and gas industry more environmentally sustainable.”

Opioid Crisis

“The opioid crisis continues to plague Albertans. There have been massive drug busts by police both in Edmonton and Calgary in the past month. Alberta Liberals will be demanding increased resources for law enforcement to reduce supply of dangerous drugs like fentanyl.

“We will also continue to advocate for greater access to safe consumption clinics to combat overdoses and fatalities. Our priority is to improve access to safe consumption sites, including in First Nation communities and reserves.”

Disability Advocate

There is still no disability advocate 10 months after the NDP approved the position. The Alberta Liberal Caucus continues to deal with heartbreaking stories from vulnerable Albertans unable to get the care and assistance they need.  We will demand the immediate appointment of an advocate and adequate funding to improve this situation.”

Electoral Reform

“The Premier committed to a provincial election in 2019. Alberta Liberals will be pushing the Government to improve diversity among MLAs by reforming our electoral system. We will ensure the government is consulting Albertans on electoral reform.”

 


Statement on NDP bulldozing ahead with clearcutting in Kananaskis Country

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has released the following statement on the NDP decision to bulldoze ahead with clearcutting of Kananaskis Country:

“The NDP’s decision bulldoze ahead with clearcutting of vast swaths of trees in the Kananaskis Country and Highwood Pass is unacceptable and disrespectful to those affected.

“The residents and local governments of Black Diamond, High River, Okotoks and Turner Valley, along with environmental groups and recreational visitors to the area, have all voiced their opposition to this decision, but the NDP have turned a deaf ear.

“With this unilateral decision, the NDP continue the flawed environmental policies of the previous conservative government, and have chosen to heed the desire of out-of-province companies over the wishes of Albertans.

“Environmental leadership must go beyond coal, carbon, and lightbulbs. It must also entail protecting and preserving our forests, waters, and wildlife.

“Clearcutting in these areas poses an enormous threat to already endangered local wildlife, the headwaters, which are the lifeblood of southern Alberta, and increase the risk of flooding in the region.

“It is still not too late to do the right thing to prevent this devastation. We must stop the clearcutting of Kananaskis!”


David Swann statement on the approval of clearcutting in Kananaskis Country & Highwood Pass

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the government’s decision to allow clearcutting in the Kananaskis Country and Highwood Pass:

“I’m deeply disappointed by the NDP’s decision to allow clearcutting of vast swaths of trees in the Kananaskis Country and the iconic Highwood Pass.

“Rather than show the kind of environmental leadership Albertans expect from an NDP government, they have proven to be no better than the Conservatives before them by bulldozing over the valid concerns from the municipalities and residents who are directly affected.

“Clearcutting in these areas poses an enormous threat to endangered local wildlife and the watersheds that are the lifeblood of southern Alberta. The potential negative impact on recreation and tourism in the region, highlighted by the municipal councils of Okotoks, Turner Valley and Black Diamond, cannot be overstated.

“During Question Period, and in letters to the Minister’s office, I repeatedly called on the government to put a stop to this plan, review the contracts, and examine other sites, but it refused to listen.

“Now, thousands of trees will be clear-cut in one of Alberta’s true natural jewels, leaving the landscape scarred for generations to come.

“This is a bad decision and must be reversed. Stop the clearcutting of Kananaskis!”


NDP must stop clearcutting of Kananaskis Country and Highwood Pass

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann is calling on the NDP government to stop the clearcutting of Kananaskis Country and Highwood Pass.

“There is a responsible way and a place for logging. This is neither,” says David Swann. “They are rapidly clearing massive swaths of trees from well-known tourist and recreation areas.

“The NDP must show better environmental leadership. They must put a stop to this immediately, review the contracts, and examine other sites.”

Swann first raised concerns about the proposed logging in Question Period in May.

He followed up in a letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry on behalf of residents of Black Diamond, Turner Valley and High River, expressing concerns about the pace of the timber harvest. The harvesting of a five-year quota in a single season, the threat to the local economy, and the negative environmental impact on water and wildlife – specifically the endangered cut-throat trout – were raised in the letter.

The Minister replied that all these activities were acceptable and would proceed this month according to plan.

“The government isn’t getting the message,” says Swann. “The municipal councils of Okotoks, Turner Valley and Black Diamond have all asked for delay and review of the licence on the iconic Highwood route. The impact of this clearcutting will be devastating for these communities, and the Minister should heed this clarion call.

“I am also particularly concerned with the threat to the watersheds in the area, which are particularly relevant in this extraordinarily dry summer. Water quality and quantity must be the top priority for the management of the southeastern slopes so as to protect our southern Alberta communities.”

Swann recently surveyed the area to see first-hand the devastating effects of the clearcutting in the region. Photos are available below.

Polling has shown that Albertans recognize the danger the logging activities in this region pose to the local environment and economy. I call on the Minister to visit the affected areas, so he can plainly see for himself that these logging practices are unacceptable.

“This needs to stop before the damage is irreversible.”


NDP government must reinforce polluter pay principle following latest Redwater Energy ruling

In response to the Court of Appeal upholding last year’s Redwater Energy ruling, Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is calling on the NDP government to ensure the ‘polluter pays’ principle is upheld.

“Now that the courts have clearly signaled an insolvent company’s assets cannot be used primarily for remediation of non-producing wells, it is up to the NDP government to ensure reclamation costs are borne by industry and not Alberta taxpayers,” says Swann.

While abandoned oil and gas wells are a rapidly growing problem, the government is also failing to enforce polluter pays on tailings ponds and oil sands mines.

In his July 2015 report, the Auditor General was highly critical of the Mine Financial Security Program (MFSP) for not ensuring that mines hold sufficient cleanup funds. While the Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips accepted the Auditor General’s recommendations, and promised a MFSP review, subsequent government action on the file has been lacking.

“The province seems to be expecting the federal government to swoop in and help cover the cleanup costs, which should be the industry’s responsibility,” says Swann. “Forward thinking and greater financial security is a must if we are going to ensure that energy producers aren’t saddling Alberta taxpayers with massive liabilities.”