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Sunday, March 15, 2009

prins, mcqueen, berger, and olson legitimize opposition to bill 19.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) about central Alberta becoming the revolutionary hotbed of Albert politics, but while it may not be an actual hot bed of revolution, politics in central Alberta have becoming increasingly interesting.

After Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden introduced Bill 19: Land Assembly Project Area Act into the Legislature on March 2, 2009, the legislation has met strong opposition from landowners in central Alberta, including Green Party leader Joe Anglin. Anglin described Bill 19 as "a punitive Bill that is chock-full of consequences for any landowner or citizen who would defy the Minister of Energy," and is a member of a group of landowners who have organized town hall forums and information sessions on Bill 19 in communities across central Alberta. The opposition to Bill 19 appears to have caught the attention of the region's PC MLAs, four who have been seen attending these town halls to defend the legislation.

At a forum in Warburg, PC MLAs Ray Prins (Lacombe-Ponoka), Diana McQueen (Drayton Valley-Calmar) and Evan Berger (Livingstone-MacLeod) were in attendance, and yesterday in Ponoka, Prins, McQueen, Berger, and Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Verlyn Olson defended Bill 19 at an information session hosted by Anglin.

Rather than using the reliable 'ignore the opposition between elections' strategy that has served the PCs so well over the past 36 years, the very presence of these four PC MLAs have actually legitimized the opposition to Bill 19 in rural central Alberta.


Anonymous said...

PC's haven't had opposition out here for 30 years.

Anglin got +20% in Ponoka-Lacombe and Erickson got ~19% in Drayton Valley-Calmar in 2008 largely because of their opposition to government Bills like Bill 19. The PC MLA's know that if they ignore this opposition it could be ~40% for Anglin and Erickson in 2012.

People out here are outraged and understand that Bill 19 is bad news.

Rob D.
Rimbey, Alta

Anonymous said...

Bill 19 does, in fact, seem to give Ed Stelmach and Mel Knight the right to steal land to build power lines.

Call your MLA

Anonymous said...

Do those on the interweb have a better idea about how to build power lines in Alberta?

Anonymous said...

Bobby is right. All I hear is a lot of whining from hippie handwringers like Anglin, Erickson, and their virtual partner-in-crime Cournoyer. If none of you have any alternate ideas about the proper maintenance and expansion of AB's power grid, then you can spare us the predictable whining and leave the decision-making process to those of us who can think critically about the challenges facing land use in Alberta.

Anonymous said...

"Think critically?"

There's not very much critical thinking going on when the thought is "do whatever is easiest," never mind the fact that using your internet anonymity shields you from having to face the consequences of even positing the use of the term "hippie handwringers."

Talk about nullified criticism.

Anonymous said...

It's always entertaining, if not particularly useful, to see the farming industry and the energy industry, the two biggest polluters and the two biggest corporate welfare bums in Alberta, bashing one another.

Tiny Perfect Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Has anyone here even read Bill 19? It's one thing to disagree with a government, but to completely misrepresent a piece of legislation demeans everyone. Seriously people, read the Bill. You might actually find out that it's a positive for landowners.

But I guess Joe Anglin sometimes reminds me of Homer Simpson when he said "Nothing is going to stop me in the middle of this rant, not the facts, not nothing!"

Anonymous said...

Tories don't know how to react to organized opposition in their rural strongholds. In urban AB they just ignore the Libs and Dippers, use the Public Affairs Bureau to launch an ad assault, and then vote it through the Leg anyway. Non-legislative opposition is more threatening.

Anonymous said...

March 16, 2009

Bill 19 Leaves Landowners Twisting in the Wind

For Immediate Release

CALGARY - The Wildrose Alliance is sounding the alarm over the Stelmach government's Bill 19, calling on the government to change the current proposal before it strips Albertans of their rights.

As proposed, Bill 19 would allow the government to neuter the value of private property during the process of assembling land for utility and transportation corridors, setting a dangerous precedent that could leave current and potential landowners twisting in the wind.

"Establishing utility and transportation corridors makes good sense and benefits all Albertans," says Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman. "However, the problem is that the land and business owners on the affected lands will lose their rights to development without compensation. The regulations yet to be revealed could allow for draconian measures to take place to effect such actions. The government should be going out of its way to treat people fairly, something this Bill does not do. After all, the government hired private eyes to spy on land holders last year!”

Bill 19 allows the government to register a "Control Order" against the land's title for an indefinite period of time, affecting not only the current owner but also anyone who may consider buying the land. The Order will restrict what one can do on the property and will likely state that no further improvements or changes of use can be made to it. Since it typically takes the government several years to assemble land for such corridors, it could leave property owners twisting in the wind for years, possibly with no compensation from the government at the end.

"Just because your land is designated under a Control Order does not mean the government will actually follow through and buy it," Hinman points out. "Landowners could be faced with a long period of uncertainty during which their lives and/or businesses have to be put on hold. Landowners must be compensated for loss of use as well as potential lost future opportunity." Hinman says the problem would be addressed better through the government purchasing the land and then leasing back the land to the prior landowner.

The very essence of prosperity is in a free people enjoying the fruits of their labour and the use of their individual properties in the manner to which they see fit. Bill 19 allows the government to ride roughshod over Albertans' property rights, leaving landowners twisting in the wind until the government decides whether or not it will use the property in question. Since the minister is left with the power to decide, the process could also be susceptible to political considerations and interference.

Hinman also points out that the regulations the bill would create aren't even attached to it, making it impossible to know how the bill will look in the end. "For this reason alone," Hinman says, "The bill needs to go to committee and the regulations must be brought forth at the same time so it can be judged on its merits."


Paul Hinman
Wildrose Alliance leader
Phone: 403 393-2003

Anonymous said...

As usual with the (fish)WRAP, the "alarm" went off long after everyone else's. Isn't Hinman a farmer? shouldn't we expect him to at least pay atention? The real opposition parties have been wailing about Bill 19 for some time.

Great news release, too. And I quote, "after all, the government hired private eyes to spy on land holders last year!" Well, it wasn't the Government, it was the AEUB. Shouldn't we expect the leader of a political party to understand the difference between Government and a government-appointed Board?

The guy's a joke. He should go back to talking about lithotrypsy and keeping the little woman home raising the kids.

Joe Anglin said...

From Page 36 of the Needs Identification Document submitted by AESO in 2003 and approved in 2005.

“One advantage of HVDC is lower per unit cost for the transmission line. A bipolar HVDC line costs about a half as much as two 500 kV AC lines of similar transfer capability.”

The building of transmission lines in the public interest is not something I have ever argued against. We fought the AltaLink proposal because AESO and AltaLink decided without consultation they were going to expropriate property and force some people to move from their farms and homes, without allowing those farmers any access to due-process of law. We won that decision in the Alberta Appeals Court based on that fact.

The fact is newer technology (HVDC) has advanced to such a degree, that the transmission system can be upgraded to more than ten times its current existing capacity without requiring the expropriation of anyone’s property. Satisfying both industry and the public, HVDC has a significantly smaller environmental footprint. One HVDC line has the transmission capacity of 11 existing 240KV lines. Currently there are 7 - 240 KV lines between Edmonton and Calgary and an additional 2- 240 KV lines originating at Sheerness heading south. HVDC has about 80% less loss compared to a typical AC transmission line, and HVDC eliminates the arguments dealing with EMF. The downside to HVDC is the high cost of the DC/AC converter station. In a typical configuration consisting of spending $1 Billion dollars of the taxpayer’s money to build a 500 KV transmission line from Edmonton to Calgary, an AC/DC converter will cost $50 – $100 million dollars or about a 10% - 20% increase.

So Jeff, if you ask if we ever offered up any suggestions, the answer is yes and we are backing those suggestions with fact.

The real question is a matter of the subsidization of industry. Should the public subsidize private industry so we can pay higher electricity rates? To advance the subsidization of industry, propaganda was disseminated to create a fear that the lights will go out in Calgary if new transmission lines were not built by 2009. The facts disclosed that the proposed AltaLink transmission lines did not connect to Calgary. The electricity went directly to the states. When this fact was brought to the attention of the EUB, and we reminded the EUB they didn’t have jurisdiction over an export line; the EUB received an Order in Council two weeks later (January 2007) giving the EUB jurisdiction over an export line. If you want a copy of the Order-in-Council Jeff, I’ll be happy to send you a copy.

Although the EUB and AltaLink denied that their transmission line was for the export of power to California. TransCanada Corp. CEO Hal Kvisle was quoted on December 19, 2007 saying "without transmission links to the United States Alberta would have an oversupplied market, and plummeting electricity prices" . This is a tough sell to the public. We have to pay for the line so we can have higher electricity prices?

This was consistent with the same argument the Industrial Power Consumers Association of Alberta (IPCAA) advanced at the 2005 EUB hearings. The IPCAA is the large commercial users of electricity and they consume over 50% of the electricity produced in the province. Translated they pay over 50% of the electricity bills in the province too. In its decision the EUB Board noted in decision 2005-030 that exports from the proposed transmission lines will raise the pool price which will make it doubly unfair for consumers to pay for increasing exports.

If this evidence is not enough, the 2006 CNC NW Power Pool report titled the Canada-Northwest- California was released in 2007. It showed the AltaLink proposal to be option 8A and 8B in a larger plan to export power to southern California.

I am no more against exporting excess power than I am against transmission lines. But should we give up our rights and our properties to subsidize the building of transmission lines, so we can all pay higher electricity prices, and EPCOR, TransAlta, and TransCanada can make larger profit? Meanwhile, building a 500 KV line in the west corridor creates such an imbalance south of Benalto, that if a major fault occurred from Benalto to Calgary the entire province would cascade off line. The economic costs of such an event could run into the 100’s of billions. Why would we ever risk the entire province going off line by building the wrong transmission line? If we have to spend $1 billion to build a transmission system we should be able to almost guarantee it would never happen.

I have taken the long way around to address Bill 19. Bill 19 does nothing constructive that cannot already be accomplished by applying existing legislation. Conspiracy theorist claim the intent of the Bill is to expropriate private property from the public to advance the private interests of the large power producers over the private interests of the small business owner (the farmers). Compared to existing legislation, Bill 19 only strips away more democratic rights.

We need to upgrade our transmission system. Deregulation has made a mess out of it. But if we have to upgrade the system, and the public must pay for the upgrade, then the public should reap the benefits. We also need proper legislation for the expropriation of private property for essential public projects. But if we grant unprecedented power to a Minister we will only be guaranteed of one thing, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Without the proper safe guards in place to protect the democratic rights of the citizens – what are the odds that abuses of power will begin to rise? The next thing you know Private Investigators will be hired by the government to tap into your telephone conversations. ;-)

We have the ability today, with newer technologies, to create Transportation Corridors, particularly for transmission lines and pipe lines, without having to expropriate private property. We do not need Bill 19 and anyone who says it good for the property owner or for any citizen in this province has no understanding of current technology, sense of history, or understanding of democracy.

Joe Anglin

Anonymous said...

Great comments Joe, seriously. I love the idea of upgrading existing lines to high capacity DC technology, I think this should be the government's default policy whenever possible.

A bit of constructive criticism? I think you will need to learn to "tighten up" your message. I barely made it through your whole comment and I'm a daily politco fanatic. Your well thought out positions are great but you'll need to work on getting your messages through in extremely tight time windows once your party starts to gain real traction with the media.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anglin, I'm discussing Bill 19, not the previous Bill 46, which was already passed last year, and despite your "chicken little" opposition to it, the sky did not in fact fall.

What I like about Bill 19,and the previous Bill 46, is now the taxpayers will not be on the hook to pay for individuals (Mr. Anglin being one) to intercede on land disputes that are nowhere near their place of residence. If you want to be up front and factual Mr. Anglin, why not let us all know how much of the taxpayers money you received by travelling around the province and getting involved in hearings that you had no personal involvement in? There's a "fact" I'd be curious to know, because my guess is over a million dollars. So do not argue that you are saving taxpayers dollars when in fact you have benefitted greatly in the past at the taxpayer trough.

Question #2, why would your deputy Green Party leader want to leave to start a new party when polls show the Green Party is actually gaining in support? Coult it be that he has realized your takeover of the party is based on your self-interest in land issues?

Unfortunately Mr. Anglin, your 15 minutes are up. There are only so many times you can sprout popular phrases such as "new technologies", and "rights of landowners" before people actually do the research themselves.

You have costed us taxpayers enough.

Good luck in your province wide campaign, perhaps the truth will catch up to you soon...

Joe Anglin said...

The amendments to Bill 19 do not fix the main problems associated with the Bill. The amendments are more cosmetic and do not make any substantive changes to the Bill.

The right of notification and the right to be consulted have been transformed in Bill 19 from a legislative right, to a regulated privilege. A privilege is not a right! A privilege can be withdrawn or withheld at any time!

In the existing legislation the Minister has a right to apply to the Queen’s Bench for an order against anyone, if the Minister was of the opinion a person had violated the Act. Under Bill 19 the Minister may submit an order to the Queen’s Bench against an individual they think is guilty, which is “enforceable as if it were judgment.” This is a major change in the powers delegated to a Minister.

Section 13, wherein it states the Expropriation Act does not apply, is being proposed to be removed but it doesn’t change the context of the Bill. Section 3(a) of Bill 19 still says, “Notwithstanding any other Act or Regulation.” This means no other Act or Regulation applies – including the Expropriations Act.

Why do we need Bill 19? The existing legislation has worked just fine, and only needs to be amended periodically to keep it up to date. The existing legislation specifically states the taking of land had to be “necessary in the public interest.” Bill 19 removed those words, and states a public project is anything the Minister says is a public project.

The existing legislation gives a Minister the power to limit, prohibit or restrict the dumping of any substance on a Project Area. The new Bill 19 gives a Minister the power to approve the dumping of any substance on a Project Area. The words, “to approve”, change the dynamics of the government’s powers. Now the government will have the unprecedented authority to dump any substance in or around a piece of property and according to section 3(1), and “Notwithstanding any other Act or Regulation;” no existing environmental laws will apply.

By leaving out the words “necessary in the public interest”, Bill 19 gives unprecedented powers to any Minister declaring an area of land as needed for a “public project.” Bill 19 does not limit the government’s powers from taking private property for the purpose of leasing the property to private business interests: domestic or foreign.

The government should withdraw Bill 19 and amend the existing legislation periodically as necessary. The existing legislation still works; Bill 19 is not needed -- it is too vague, and it gives too much power to a Minister.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Joe Anglin said...

I really do want to shorten my responses. Unfortunately, this is about legislation. It is complex because it affect everyone's right to due process of law and thier democratic rights.

Passing this kind of draconian legislation requires a passive and complacent public. Of course if the public chooses to be ignorant, the Bill will pass all that much easier.