Alberta government quick to reject calls for inquiry into power line dealings

Power line activist Joe Anglin said it’s time for a full inquiry into the Alberta government’s electrical transmission dealings as the province’s ethics commissioner ponders his own probe.

Power line activist Joe Anglin said it’s time for a full inquiry into the Alberta government’s electrical transmission dealings as the province’s ethics commissioner ponders his own probe.

Liberal Leader David Swann and Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith have called for an investigation into allegations by Enmax CEO Gary Holden of government secret deals behind closed doors with supporters of Bill 50, the province’s new power line regulations.

Premier Ed Stelmach didn’t mince his words when asked for comment, rejecting the claims as a “bunch of crap.”

Alberta Energy Minister Mel Knight was also quick to dismiss any allegations of deals, calling it a “bunch of baloney.”

Alberta Auditor General Fred Dunn threw more fuel on the fire when he told the Calgary Herald Thursday that allegations that the government colluded with major electricity players to clear the way for $14.5 billion worth of power line construction warrants investigation. Dunn said the matter should, at the very least, be reviewed by an internal Energy Department review.

Anglin said ethics and auditor general investigations are justified, but he’s not holding his breath.

“I don’t have faith in any type of investigation. I don’t have faith in the integrity of this government.

“We need a real full independent inquiry. And this is a government, I think, that would be fearful of one.”

Given the latest poll results showing a huge surge in Wildrose Alliance popularity, the Alberta Tories would be well served by conducting a proper, transparent review of the whole power line issue, he said.

Anglin said the province’s bungling of the previous application to run a 500-kilovolt power line from Edmonton to Calgary is notorious in many people’s minds because it was revealed those opposing the process were being spied on.

But there were more important issues at stake that tend to be forgotten, he said. The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that the Energy Utilities Board showed there was a realistic apprehension of bias.

“Right from the beginning, there were some, what I would call, eyebrow-raising situations that warranted an explanation. We never got any explanations.

“Now we’ve got Gary Holden going public. This appears to be a continuation of government interference.”

Anglin said the government argued that the power line approval process was not working and scrapped it. However, it would have worked fine if the government hadn’t interfered in the EUB’s job to represent the interests of Albertans, he contends.

“But what happened was there was some interference that nobody could ever put their finger on which caused the board to not do their job.

“All we ever did was hold the board accountable.”

Meanwhile, Anglin is preparing a complaint that alleges the Alberta Electric System Operator, which oversees the provincial power grid, did not follow Alberta’s laws by failing to provide a needs document before going to the public with their plan for new power lines.

Anglin will allege that AESO was negligent in their diligence to protect the public interest.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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