2012

18 June “First Nations activist navigates oilsands fight”

As seen in The Edmonton Journal, A3: “Eriel Deranger was 12 when her father took her north of Fort McMurray, within sight of the Syncrude and Suncor oilsands facilities, to teach her about traditional hunting, trapping and fishing.

” ‘My mom and dad were very political people,’ says Deranger, who is now a mother. ‘My dad sort of told us that we have to stop these projects.’

“Now 33, Deranger has become something of an official face for her community’s opposition to ramped-up oilsands development in the face of lingering questions about its impacts on the health of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, air and water quality, and fish and wildlife.

“Officially, she is her community’s Edmonton-based communications co-ordinator, responsible for expressing the conflict inherent in making employment, infrastructure and land deals with industry while protecting a traditional culture and ecosystem.

” ‘I didn’t want to be the face or the voice for tarsands activism, for my community,’ Deranger says. But, she says, someone needs to field questions from filmmakers and media outlets curious about the indigenous community that lies downstream from one of the most controversial industrial developments in the world. …”

15 April “Oilsands, green issues missing in action in campaign”

“Alberta’s oilsands and their environmental legacy – perhaps the single issue that most defines the province’s economy and relationship with the world – has been largely absent from political debate since the provincial election was called, observers say.

“Over the last three weeks, the race for control of the legislature, seen by many as a battle between Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives and Danielle Smith’s Wildrose, has been occupied by public-versus-private health care questions, talk of how to balance budgets and spend surplus energy revenues, and discussion of “conscience rights” and MLA accountability.

“That mash-up of debates has pushed the cleanup of oilsands tailings ponds or greenhouse gas emissions off the agenda, apart from campaign promises made by NDP Leader Brian Mason and Liberal Leader Raj Sherman, both of whom are polling low among decided voters.

“Chris Severson-Baker, managing director of the Albertabased environmental thinktank Pembina Institute, notes the future of the province depends not just on the oilsands themselves, but the world’s perception of the oilsands.

“‘(The environment) hasn’t been discussed at great length, which is surprising of course because the development of the oilsands resource and (related) environmental concerns … especially those expressed by our markets, the international community where Alberta wants to sell the oil, is a huge issue,’ says Severson-Baker. …

“MacEwan University political scientist Chaldeans Mensah says environmental issues may not have gained much traction because there is little to gain for either the Wildrose or the Progressive Conservatives by emphasizing their platforms or accomplishments, respectively.

“‘I think in the context of Alberta this campaign has been a campaign of personalities and other issues much more prominent in the minds of voters compared to the environment,’ Mensah says. ‘It doesn’t mean that people don’t care about the environment, it simply means that the political parties perceive that there are better opportunities in terms of gaining support in some of the other issues.’ …”

24 March “Tories lead donations with 65%; Journal database details political party contributions”

With Lucas Timmons, this Journal investigation unpacked “the nearly $23.1 million in contributions that have powered Alberta politics over the last decade,” following cash flow to the long-dominating Progressive Conservative party, as well as the fledgling Wildrose and the province’s other opposition parties.

10 February “Alberta to spend millions in an effort to boost its image on the world stage”

As seen in the Edmonton Journal, A4: “Projections for long-haul energy resource revenue increases were sugar-coated in Thursday’s provincial budget, with promises to invest in more international salesmanship and oilsands monitoring.

“The boost to international relations funding by $9 million in the next year, bringing the overall budget for international offices and global outreach to $24.2 million in 2012-13, compared with $15.3 million in 2011-12.

“‘Albertans want us to be talking about what Alberta can be. Albertans want us to be talking about reaching out globally, looking outward, not inward,’ deputy premier Doug Horner said Thursday.

“The push to get ‘Alberta’s story’ onto the world stage is geared toward increasing international trade and investment, and boosting the province’s image in Asia. As well, it is a response to international environmental criticism of the oilsands, considered a leading contributor to U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to delay approving the bitumen-carrying Keystone XL Pipeline. …

“Part of the international relations cash boost will fund a new program to send Alberta’s post-secondary students overseas to work with international businesses, non-profit organizations and other entities. Details of that $2.5-million program have yet to be determined. …”

3 February “Alberta seeks energy trade expert; Posting asks for consultants to weigh in on Canada-Asia, market diversification”

As seen in the Edmonton Journal, A6: “Alberta is in the market for a new expert on Canada-Asia energy trade.

“A ‘request for pre-qualification’ issued on the provincial government’s buy-and-sell website used to advertise public-sector needs such as building contracts, asks for consultants to weigh in on energy market diversification and transportation infrastructure for Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

“The job posting fits with the western provinces’ New Western Partnership efforts in recent months to turn trade attention to the Pacific over the United States. Those efforts have included bolstering trade offices in China and, from Alberta, posting failed Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Gary Mar as an envoy to Asia.

“The report expected to result from the posting will not be Alberta’s nor the western provinces’ first to illuminate trade prospects and the need to open up West Coast access, but Alberta Energy spokesman Bart Johnson said, ‘It’s important to continue those assessments and to look at the bigger picture.’ …

2 January “Creative sentences put money back in environment: study”

As seen in the Edmonton Journal, A5: “A Journal study of public government records shows that, among named recipients of creative sentencing orders (on environmental matters), universities, colleges, school boards and non-government organizations have benefited from or managed 80 per cent of court-ordered funds over the last 15 years. In cash, that has meant nearly $4.2-million being directed to those organizations. In the same period, just $539,000 has been directed to industry groups. …”

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