Hyper-Partisans Turn Up the Noise on Bighorn Country

The highest and best use of Bighorn Country
Bighorn Country

OK, everyone who is politically hyperventilating on hew Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park project process, take a Valium and calm down. The rhetoric is getting crazy and the issues obscured. Here is what I understand. feel free to comment and correct any of my mistakes or misunderstanding. If you do comment on a fact or suggest a correction please provide links to news stories, interviews or documents to validate the corrections.

If you want to offer an opinion that is great too but no anonymous or troll comments or opinions will be accepted. There is enough stupidity around this issue already I see no need to add to the heat and the darkness.

The Salient Facts

  • The Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park idea has been around for years
  • In November the Notley NDP government announced a $40 million dollar proposal for three new park sites, four recreational areas in the Bighorn Country area that are essentially consistent with existing uses in the area.
  • Public information sessions were organized on the proposal in a number of communities
  • Some local concerns have been expressed on impacts on industry access and off-road recreational vehicle uses going forward.
  • There are allegations of seven instances of Alberta government staff being harassed and intimidated including one of veiled threat of violence, over a six week period.
  • There are alleged complaints by regional business owners, one in Nordegg claiming to being “bullied in his community” in an email to UCP MLA Jason Nixon.
  • Recommendations were made by government security service to cancel the scheduled public hearing sessions for reasons of public safety, which was done by the responsible Minister, replacing the in-person public consultation sessions with telephone based town hall meetings in the same communities and regions.
  • That Minister misspoke about the RCMP having “at least two open investigation files on issues of public safety concerns” and almost immediately after corrected the record stating the RCMP has no ongoing investigations on these matters.
  • The Minister has said efforts will be made to reconvene the public consultation sessions once there are assurances of pubic safety.

The Political Fallout

The Right vs Left hyper-partisanship rhetoric and propaganda has kicked into full gear. The UCP House Leader and MLA for much of the region, Jason Nixon, kicked into high gear calling for the Minister’s resignation for the “blatant lies” on the RCMP open investigation comments. He claims he is unaware of threats or intimidation claiming the allegations are akin to a “smear on the character of the Bighorn communities.” He further alleges that the cancellation of the pubic consultation sessions is an NDP attempt to avoid “meaningful consultation.”

On the NDP side of the circus, there is no validation of the intimidation claims except of the Minister’s characterization of alleged incidences. There has been no release of any evidence to substantiate claims of alleged security service recommendations to cancel the public consultations.

The UCP is calling for the Ministers resignation based on breach of trust on “lying” abut the status of any RCMP investigations on the alleged incidents. Strangely the Alberta Party leader piled on the resignation hyperbole too. Not surprisingly the Premier is standing by her Minister with the usual “complete support” comments and fighting back on the UCP “peddling misinformation” on the Bighorn plans and public consultation.

The Alberta Party leader call for the Ministers resignation is framed on her poor judgement by unfounded allegations that escalated the intimidation and harassment matter to the level of the RCMP. He further claims the process is “more of an insult than a consult” saying the NDP government is coming to the Bighorn park idea “with a prescriptive option and tried to dress it up as public consultation.”

What To Do?

What is obvious is the hyperbolic rhetoric has to stop. It is not doing anybody any good – especially the public. We have to be able to trust that our elected representatives have our citizenship interests first and foremost in what they are saying and doing. None of these political partisans are advancing that end in this political theatre of the absurd.

The Minister needs to disclose all the evidence she has around reasons of public safety she relied on to support her discretionary call to cancel public consultations . It there are good reasons, the public needs to know and deserves to know the facts. That evidence needs to be disclosed in ways we can reply upon the integrity of the sources of those factual representations..

Citizens need to be able to participate freely, openly and safely in our democracy, including public consultations on contentious public policy matters. If any of that is in jeopardy in any
substantial way, Albertans need to know and be advised on what steps are being taken to fix that situation. Such steps could include dealing legally, both civilly and criminally, as the situations warrant, with those who are undermining the principles of a free and democratic society.

Do Your Job

It is time for the political players to get out of the political trenches (gutter?) and deal with this matter with maturity and wisdom not partisan rhetoric, agitprop and histrionics. We elect you to serve the greater good first. That is essentially means bringing your personal integrity, honesty, transparency, openness and accountability to bear every day. We expect you to make decisions on our behalf that is almost always between competing values. We expect that you will be using your best judgement, based on the best available evidence and assessed appropriately, outside your personal or partisan political purposes.

Some will say that set of expectations on politicians and the partisan masters they serve is incredibly naive on my part. Perhaps so but is it not without merit as a worthy aspiration for our political culture by citizens as voters.

In conclusion and in the vernacular: Cut the Crap! Smarten Up! Show us you are worthy of our votes and our consent to be government by you.

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