EDMONTON — The Alberta NDP has fired an early salvo in the upcoming election campaign with a petition drive to tap public discontent over high electricity prices.
“We’re hoping to put pressure on the government to take action right away to freeze electricity prices and to begin the process of regulating our electricity system,” party leader Brian Mason said Wednesday.
“Only regulation of electricity prices can ensure that people pay the lowest price possible and that the prices are, in fact, stable.”
Mason said the idea came after scores of people contacted the party to complain about high power prices. Anyone not on fixed-rate contracts will pay a record 15 cents a kilowatt hour this month. That’s double what was charged last January.
NDP candidates for the election will have copies of the petition when they go door-knocking so they can spread the word, he said.
Mason conceded the government could ignore the results, but suggested it would do so at its peril.
“Nothing that a political party in opposition does is going to have much effect unless they’re speaking for the people,” said Mason.
“Unless the public is behind what they’re trying to do, the government is free to ignore them. The question is: Is the government willing to ignore the public on this issue?
By law, the election must be held sometime in March, April or May.
Alberta has had the biggest growth in power demand in Canada —about 3 1/2 per cent a year — compared with 2 1/2 per cent in the rest of the country.
The government is currently reviewing the province’s overall power needs.