Before he was killed in an airplane crash in 1984, Grant Notley was a New Democrat MLA and party leader widely respected by Albertans of all political stripes.
Today his daughter, NDP MLA Rachel Notley, is continuing his legacy of excellence by holding the provincial government’s feet to the fire.
Just recently, she’s made headlines by exposing the Conservatives’ so-called “public consultation” about nuclear energy as a complete and utter sham.
As Notley has noted, the province’s online nuclear consultation is riddled with incendiary facts apparently designed to convince Albertans that nuclear power is safe and the preferred option to other available sources of electrical power.
“It’s really quite an ingenious project they have, but laughable,” she says. “They’re clearly not presenting both sides of the argument.”
Notley observes that while an online workbook talks about Ontario planning to expand on its 20 nuclear power plants, it doesn’t mention that other provinces have banned them.
Notley says the Tories are playing down the health risks associated with living next to nuclear plants and are suggesting they are reliable when they’re not.
“This is a very devious way to both manage and suppress dissent on this issue,” she adds. “They’re trying to build an argument that Albertans are in support of nuclear energy, but it’s so manipulative I don’t think they will get away with it.”
Can you imagine what would happen if the Tories held townhall meetings throughout the province, giving Albertans a chance to express their opinions in a public forum that could be effectively covered by the media?
Sure, there would be some people saying they have no problem living next door to a nuclear reactor, but there would likely be many, many more citizens telling the government to keep nuclear plants out of their backyards.
Citizens would ask all sorts of embarrassing questions of the government.
For instance, some people would want to know about the many near-miss accidents that have happened at nuclear plants around the world.
Others, no doubt, would ask why we should go ahead with nuclear energy in Alberta when no one has come up with a safe and effective means of disposing of nuclear waste.
Also, people might ask: Why are so many European countries moving away from nuclear energy?
Energy Minister Mel Knight promises that no decision will be made about having a nuclear facility built in the province until the government is satisfied that Albertans have had an opportunity to express their opinions on the issue, but does anyone really believe that?
The decision appears to already have been made and will likely only be reversed if there is a groundswell of opposition from the general public.
As critics of nuclear energy have already noted, the government established an expert panel to write a fact-based report on nuclear power earlier this year, but it was an obvious soft-sell for nukes.
It’s little wonder that no new nuclear reactors have been built in Canada since 1992.
Let’s not have the next one situated here in Alberta, especially when our provincial government appears to be going out of its way to deceive us.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.