Monday, October 24, 2011

After 40 years in power: This is business as usual in Alberta.

Hot on the heels of Friday's fiasco on transmission lines miscommunications comes news that certain energy firms in Alberta had the jump on everyone, including  PC cabinet ministers who had yet to the approve the deal, on an ethane incentive program worth $350-million.

From the Edmonton Journal: Energy companies learned of potentially lucrative changes to a $350-million incentive program before cabinet ministers approved it, documents obtained by the Alberta Liberals show.
Internal emails reveal that days before cabinet approved the program, aides to then-energy minister Ron Liepert were working with a Williams Energy lobbyist who was already preparing to announce the company's plan to take advantage of the incentives.
The records also show a former vice-president and lobbyist for Nova Chemicals helped redesign the program, aimed at boosting ethane production, which ultimately benefited his one-time employer.

 The timeline reveals a cozy relationship with the ministers office.
In an email dated March 17, Royer wrote to Liepert's executive assistant, Courtney Luimes: "As mentioned last week, Williams is preparing a draft ... for when the announcement is eventually made. You'll see there is a spot in there for a quote from the minister."

The request for a comment from the minister was passed to Liepert's communications director, Jay O'Neill, who is now communications director for Premier Alison Redford.

On March 21, one day before cabinet approved the changes, O'Neill drafted a quote and sent it to Luimes. Luimes responded: "He wants us to use this instead: 'I'm pleased to see that Williams is the first of what I believe will be many companies to benefit from the recent changes to our ethane policy.' " It is not clear from the exchange who "he" is.

The quote appears in the Williams news release, which also notes the company set aside money for the investment back in February - more than a month before the program was announced.

Call me old fashioned, but I like my governments to actually approve programs and the spending of $350-million before staff from a ministers office go around helping private business write their press releases by providing quotes from the minister.The rot is deep.

The documents used by the Journal for their story.


Bec said...

It's quite the gong show in Edmonton and when 'Ed' is starting to look competent, yikes!

It's really to bad that Albertans don't get the opportunity to see their employees on the job over the next few months. Perhaps these types of disasters are the reason why. We may get to see them, finally!

Robert G. Harvie said...

Good post, AA - sadly, however, most sheep will simply "baaaaa" and go on about their business.