Alberta NDP refuses to debate fracking resolutions

Twitter photo by Edmonton Sun.

The Council of Canadians supported the call for the Alberta NDP to adopt at their convention this weekend (June 10-12) resolutions backing both a moratorium on fracking and a comprehensive expert study into it.

We circulated this petition calling on members of the Alberta NDP to support these two resolutions on fracking.

There were early signs of trouble.

On Friday afternoon, the Calgary Sun reported, "Resolutions will first be discussed Friday by closed-door panels of party members who will decide whether the policies will make it to the floor on the weekend for further debate." In the early afternoon, a National Observer reporter tweeted, "Motion to implement a moratorium on hydraulic fracking defeated by delegates on the convention floor." Later that afternoon, CBC noted, "Motions to bump the items on fracking and pipelines closer to the front of the agenda were defeated on Friday, as the convention got underway."

And by Sunday night the Calgary Herald reported, "Some delegates expressed disappointment over a lack of debate over controversial resolutions on pipelines and hydraulic fracturing. Paul Lawson, a labour delegate from Calgary, said he sensed the party is fearful of anything suggestive of the Leap Manifesto, an anti-fossil fuel agenda under discussion by the federal NDP that has been strongly condemned by [Premier Rachel] Notley and her government. He said in an interview that the resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking in Alberta should have been brought to the floor given the concerns that exist in rural areas."

It is too bad because the resolutions really only reflected what Ms. Notley had said less than four years ago while in opposition.

In August 2012, as the party's environment critic, she stated, "If we don't get a better ... understanding of what's safe for Albertans, we run the risk of doing some really long-term damage. In Alberta, we have no regulation — at all — that specifically covers fracking activity. [Questions need to be answered before] we start holus-bolus giving out water to the fracking industry without knowing the safety that needs to come along with that."

But that was then and this is now.

In fact even by June 2015 the Calgary Herald had reported, "NDP Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd [now says] she could not say whether there is too much hydraulic fracturing in the province."

This despite previous statements by Ms. Notley and former NDP leader Brian Mason highlighting that the province had approved five million cubic meters of water for fracking in 2011, that the number of fracking licenses had increased from 203 in 2012 to 1,516 in 2013, and that they felt - albeit before forming government - that a study was needed to understand the impact of fracking on drinking water.

The Alberta NDP government's refusal to even debate the issue of fracking stands in contrast to the Parti Québécois minority government that implemented a moratorium on fracking in 2013, the Liberal governments in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that have both now implemented a moratorium on fracking, and the Progressive Conservative government in Newfoundland and Labrador that appointed an independent panel in August 2014 to examine the issue of fracking.