Central Alberta MLA Jason Nixon is demanding an apology from Environment Minister Shannon Phillips for suggesting threats and intimidation led her to cancel public consultation sessions on a new provincial park.
Phillips told media last weekend that five separate instances of harassment and the advice of RCMP prompted the cancellation of consultation sessions planned for Red Deer, Sundre, Edmonton and Drayton Valley.
The minister has previously accused Nixon of spreading misinformation about the project to create Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park east of Jasper and Banff national parks.
Nixon said in a news release Tuesday he had talked to local RCMP in his riding and they were not aware of any threats.
He pointed out RCMP K-Division spokesman Const. Mike Hibbs told the Calgary Herald that he was not aware of any threats either.
“This unfounded characterization and smear of our communities is unacceptable,” says Nixon. “Many affected Albertans are simply concerned about a government plan that affects them greatly and has lacked transparency from the start.
“Minister Phillips insulted our communities and needs to apologize,” says, Nixon.
A request for comment was sent to the Alberta government, but there has been no reply yet.
In a letter to Phillips, Nixon says he condemns any intimidation, threats or harassment.
“I recognize that a certain fringe element are willing to say terrible things on social media. This is true of both the left and the right, on issues not limited to the Bighorn issue.”
Nixon said he has been to a number of public meetings on the project and saw nothing but civil discussion.
He criticizes the government for not properly consulting with Albertans. Consultation meetings were held over the holidays when many people were travelling and others were by invitation only, he says.
“It is apparent that there is still no intent by the NDP to seek meaningful input from Albertans. This is too important to rush, too important to get wrong.”
Nixon called on the minister to reverse the cancellation decision. He would even help organize new meetings, he says.
“While I disagree with how the government is handling the Bighorn Country issues, I am more than willing to help organize these events and join you on stage to implore all to engage in constructive, respectful consultation.”