Phillips cites nine cases of harassment over Bighorn plan, no details given

By rdnewsNOW staff and The Canadian Press
January 9, 2019 - 3:28pm Updated: January 10, 2019 - 6:02am

LETHBRIDGE - Alberta's environment minister says there have been nine cases of verbal and other harassment of government officials surrounding hearings into the Bighorn Country park plan.

Shannon Phillips says two of the cases are serious, but declined to provide details.

Phillips has already cancelled four upcoming public information sessions on the Bighorn plan, citing public safety concerns.

They will be replaced with telephone town halls, and Phillips says if she can be satisfied that the in-person sessions can be done safely, they will be held.

The telephone town halls are scheduled for:

Tuesday, Jan. 15
Drayton Valley, Sundre and surrounding area
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 16
Red Deer and surrounding area
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 24
Edmonton
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Dial-in information will be made available in the coming days.

People can continue to review the proposal and provide feedback online by visiting talkaep.alberta.ca. The deadline for submitting feedback is Feb. 15.

In November, Phillips announced eight new parks covering 4,000 square kilometres in the Bighorn area, along the eastern edges of Banff and Jasper national parks.

Residents and area officials have raised concerns about how the project might affect oil and gas exploration, the forestry industry, and off-road vehicle use.

Opposition MLAs say they have yet to see any statement from the RCMP confirming investigations into the bullying allegations, and that Phillips has lost all credibility on the matter.

“The Minister has torched any possible remaining credibility on the Bighorn file,” Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP MLA Jason Nixon tweet Wednesday afternoon. “Nobody will trust a single word she says. The Minister should resign entirely for misleading on the RCMP.”

“Sadly, this Minister chose to politicize our law enforcement, mislead Albertans, and slandered countless concerned Albertans as behaving in a way that warranted exceptional RCMP intervention,” said Mike Ellis, UCP MLA for Calgary West.

“Given the Minister’s diminished credibility on this file, only another Minister can restore trust on this important matter concerning many Albertans.”

The UCP is also calling on the province to withdraw their "arbitrary consultation deadline" for the Bighorn plan, saying the process needs to be done right and not rushed through prior to the next election.
 

(With files from The Canadian Press)

Alberta Party joins call for environment minister's resignation

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