We have done some interesting research about what values Albertans want to see guide and drive policy decision by the provincial government. There seems to be a critical disconnect with the governors and the governed about what values citizens want to see used to make public policy decisions.
The top values Albertans want to see from government are Accountability, Integrity and Honesty. When it comes to oil sands policy we are seeing a serious distance between the political culture citizens want and what they are getting. This is especially true in the areas of environmental monitoring and mitigation in areas like habitat, CO2 emissions and reclamation.
There is a very interesting set of quotes from politicians about the water quality in the Athabasca River and conflicting independent peer reviewed reports of unsafe levels of toxins that differ from the messages we have been getting from our government politicians. Government administration and independent experts seems to be saying very different things based on science than the political messages we are supposed to believe.
Click here is a link to a very enlightening blog post from the Calgary Herald that illustrates this point. How can this be happening in a modern democracy like Alberta?
I have to applaud the forthright comments of the government experts on the issues for their integrity, accountability and honesty in these quotes. It will be interesting to see if there are career consequences for bring truth to power when power has a different agenda.
Add to this the Globe and Mail story where Premier Stelmach says the meeting with US House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi will emphasize that "The environment is the first and most important issue" but the rest of the story is all about investment and jobs. I hope the story is not fully reflective of the comments made by the Premier and he has had something specific to say about concerns like ecological monitoring, water use and safety, CO2 levels, habitat protection and reclamation.
Then we have another news story in the Globe and Mail saying a study is finding the destruction of ducks in oil sands tailing ponds is estimated to be 30 times that reported by industry and government. What is going on here?
We Albertans as owners of the oil sands need to start getting serious about insisting we get the facts behind the development decisions on this very important resource for Alberta's continuing prosperity. When sustaining or gaining political power supersedes the duty of politicians to govern responsibly with integrity, accountability and honesty citizens have to take matters back into their own hands.
We Albertans are the owners and ultimately responsible for how our oil sands are developed. We are also responsible as voter for who we allow to make these development decisions on our behalf. There is no "them" in this issue - only Albertans as owners and citizens.
It is time to speak up Alberta and insist on demonstrable political integrity, accountability and honesty from our governors again. Changes have to be made and a healthy democracy demands that we have viable political alternatives who demonstrate the core values we want applied to our public policy decisions.
If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org