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QP: CORRECTING THE RECORD: PCs shoot sideways on infrastructure spending, the environment and transmission lines

EDMONTON, AB (October 30, 2012):   PC CLAIM:  Responding to questions by the Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith about the growing fiscal troubles facing the government, Finance Minister Doug Horner said,  “I’ve also been talking to Albertans, and Albertans want us to do things like Highway 63 now, not defer it till some point in the future.”

FACT: Wildrose has long advocated stretching out (not cutting) the capital plan an extra year in order to lessen the annual budgetary burden of infrastructure projects, Horner himself has advocated such an approach, and has been quoted as saying if energy prices don’t rebound, “capital spending plans can be deferred.”  However, the Wildrose has long advocated for infrastructure dollars to be allocated to high priority projects like Highway 63, schools and new long-term care centres for seniors, as outlined in the Wildrose 2012 Alternative Budget.   In fact, the Wildrose had long pushed the government for a hard timeline on the twinning of Highway 63 and released a report called Getting it Done asking for infrastructure dollars to be prioritized to this critical project.  

PC CLAIM:  In response to a question from Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman about the removal of endangered hawks from their nesting area, Environment and Sustainable Resource Minister Dianna McQueen stated that the Wildrose MLA for Strathmore-Brooks Jason Hale was “making sure we [the PC government] wouldn’t put more conservation area in place.”  

FACT:  At no point in yesterday’s Question Period did Hale make comments suggesting that the Wildrose wants less conservation, but was rather critiquing the government’s centralized planning model that aversely impacts property rights for landowners.  The Wildrose has advocated for an alternative model to land-use planning that respects property rights, cuts red-tape, improves environmental monitoring and involves the input of Albertans.  Further, the Wildrose policy on the environment has been clear, advocating for clean land, clean air and clean water.  

PC CLAIM:  Responding to a question regarding the lack of protection for Alberta power consumers on the costs for new transmission lines forced through by the PC Cabinet under Bill 50, Energy Minister Ken Hughes said,  “…the Alberta Utilities Commission has oversight over this directly and can seek all of that information on behalf of the people of Alberta to ensure that Albertans are getting the best value possible.”  

FACT: The AUC does not monitor the cost. The AUC approves projects.  The Transmission Facilities Cost Monitoring Committee (TFCMC) was established to monitor the costs of both AUC and ministerial mandated projects, such as transmission projects commissioned under Bill 50. The committee has little to do with the AUC, and is connected to the Energy Minister’s office. The committee is filled with Transmission Facility Operators (those who operate and build the lines) and AESO representatives. As part of their approval process the AUC might consider cost, but when a ruling is issued on a project, it is the TFCMC that monitors the books.