Government fails to challenge oil industry

Re: Citizen EnCana” by Adrian Morrow Cover July 10-16 2008.

Congratulations to Adrian Morrow on his comprehensive coverage of the good the bad and the ugly associated with EnCana activities both in Alberta and around the world. I found the article consistent with my experience and balanced with insightful background on both the person Gwyn Morgan and the business strategies of EnCana.

In the current development climate of Alberta where our government bends over backwards to avoid any challenge to the oil industry one cannot entirely blame EnCana for its insensitive treatment of landowners such as Jessica Ernst and the Graff family. Indeed the “coercion” in Ecuador involving EnCana documented so courageously by the young videographer Nadja Drost is entirely consistent with what citizens in Alberta have expressed to me. Albertans expect more of their government!

Far from standing up for citizens and landowners this government primarily defends their own inactions and justifies companies’ right to extract resources unless there is overt evidence or substantial risk — even hydrogen sulfide (H2S) exposures involving the death of animals and impacts on human health have been poorly investigated and people paid to stay silent.

The companion article by Barbara Janusz clearly describes Canada’s growing integration with the U.S. in the growing (and secretive) Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) increasingly cemented by our oilsands commitments through NAFTA. Indeed can Canada chart an independent energy course?

Citizens must engage in our political process and help opposition parties to hold government accountable for acting preferentially in the public interest and the long term. Individual representatives must feel some heat or they will continue to toe the corporate or party line. We and our children deserve better.

David Swann MD

MLA Calgary Mountain View

Shadow Minister Environment