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January 9, 2019

NDP Environment Minister needs to step aside on Bighorn

Mike Ellis, United Conservative MLA for Calgary-West and Opposition Critic for the Solicitor General, has issued the following statement, concerning the conduct of NDP Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips:

“In a statement to media this past weekend, the NDP government’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, cited RCMP advice to validate a political decision made by her office.

“Specifically, she cited the advice of the RCMP in response to threats in justifying the cancellation of in-person consultations on the contentious NDP plan for the Bighorn backcountry that her government insists on pushing through with minimal consultation with affected Albertans.

“In a media report yesterday morning, RCMP Alberta headquarters confirmed that they are not aware of any such threats:

“I’m not aware of anything — of any threats at all.” Constable Mike Hibbs, Media Relations, RCMP K (Alberta) Division, Calgary Herald, Jan. 8, 2019.

“The RCMP confirmed this yet again today:

“Alberta RCMP did not provide any official advice to Alberta Environment and Parks regarding the Bighorn public consultations… Alberta RCMP can confirm that we do not have any ongoing investigations relating to the consultations.” Alberta RCMP media response, Jan. 9, 2019.

“To date, we have not seen any statement from the RCMP confirming investigations.

“We have been clear: any intimidation, any threats, any harassment are all completely unacceptable. We would absolutely condemn any such document incidents in the strongest terms – yet there have been no documented incidents so far to back up the Minister’s claims.

“Our law enforcement officials work diligently to keep Albertans safe and uphold the rule of law. I have always known these men and women in uniform to be professional, to give factual advice based on the best available information.

“Sadly, this Minister chose to politicize our law enforcement, mislead Albertans, and slandered countless concerned Albertans as behaving in a way that warranted exceptional RCMP intervention.

“Through the Minister’s actions and statements, she has cast aspersions between Albertans who are affected by the Bighorn plan and the RCMP that serves the area.

“We do not say this lightly: Given the lack of trust in the region, another Minister should take over responsibility for the Bighorn plan.

“In addition, the Government also needs to make clear that they are withdrawing their arbitrary consultation deadline for the Bighorn. This is a complex matter, and needs to be done right – the rushed timeline prior to an election is not helpful to anyone, including those that are in favour of a Bighorn park.

“Given the Minister’s diminished credibility on this file, only another Minister can restore trust on this important matter concerning many Albertans.”