Posted on Jun 16, 2021
UCP BLOCK VOTE ON WATER ALLOCATION, REFUSE TO DEBATE FUTURE OF OLDMAN RIVER BASIN
EDMONTON - UCP MLAs used procedural tricks to prevent a vote on NDP Agriculture Critic Heather Sweet’s motion to protect water near the Eastern Slopes from being reallocated from farms and communities to coal mining.
“Having access to clean water is a must for Alberta’s agriculture sector,” said Sweet. “The UCP are more concerned about courting Australian-owned coal mining corporations than listening to Albertans pleading with this government to leave their water alone.”
Private members’ motions have a set debate time of one hour on Monday afternoons. The UCP used meaningless amendments this Monday to run the clock on MLA Heather Sweet’s motion, rather than debate protections for the headwaters that support Southern Alberta and its farms and communities. The Legislative session is scheduled to conclude later this week, meaning there will be no chance for a debate or vote on this motion.
“Clearly the UCP know they are offside with Albertans on protecting water, but they do not have the courage to defend their own position,” Sweet said.
In November 2020, the government released a proposal to make available up to half of all water allocations from the Old Man River Basin Water Allocation Order for two pending coal mine projects. The Allocation Order previously reserved over 80 per cent of the water for irrigation. On Monday in the Legislative Assembly, Lethbridge-East UCP MLA Nathan Neudorf would not confirm whether and what changes have indeed taken place. The NDP is calling for all MLAs to urge the government to stop and/or reverse changes to the Allocation Order so that water will be protected for generations to come, including for irrigation in the agriculture sector.
“Residents of Lethbridge have been clear that they want their water protected,” said Lethbridge-West NDP MLA Shannon Phillips. “Lethbridge’s provincial representatives should be more concerned about protecting the water that runs through our community than carrying the water for Jason Kenney’s out of touch plans.”
Heather Sweet’s proposed motion is the following:
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to take any necessary steps to maintain the current water allocations for the headwater tributaries of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains including the Oldman River Basin Water Allocation Order (Alberta Regulation 319/2003) pending extensive consultations with the agricultural sector, Indigenous communities, ranchers, municipal districts, and the general public.
“It’s another dishonest and cynical move by the Kenney government to refuse to acknowledge the harm they are causing with their fixation on coal mining,” Sweet said.