Notley Needs to Hold Someone Accountable
Imagine making a $2 billion mistake and not getting fired for it?
Seriously, consider such a situation for a moment. How long would it take for your boss to march down to your office and hand you a pink slip? Thirty seconds? A minute? Probably not too long.
Incredibly, someone in the Notley government has made a mistake involving the electricity sector that could cost ratepayers $2 billion (according to the government), but all we’ve heard from the premier is silence. That’s not acceptable.
Premier Notley needs to explain who in her cabinet, and perhaps others in government, will be held accountable for the government’s enormous blunder. Ratepayers deserve answers.
If you’re not familiar with the situation, note that the government completely restructured the electricity market, and brought in a major tax increase on electricity companies, without bothering to check its contractual obligations and rights of the power companies first.
As a result of the government changing the entire system, power companies have exercised their legal rights under the contracts. Due to the Notley government not doing its homework first, the situation could cost Alberta ratepayers $2 billion. Just imagine what your share will be.
While the government has tried to blame everyone else for the situation, no one believes them. Even Mayor Nenshi, hardly someone who could hardly be painted as a partisan opponent of the government, has called the government’s decision to blame electricity companies (including publicly owned Enmax) and take them to court “outrageous.”
Worse yet, while blaming Alberta power companies, the government has thrown out the name of disgraced former American power company Enron and suggested shady activities. Such a move is an appalling insult to the people who work for Enmax, TransCanada, Capital Power and AltaGas.
Instead of blaming others for the government’s own mistake, what needs to happen is for Premier Notley to abandon its legal actions against the companies and explain who will be demoted from cabinet.
Will it be Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd? Was she the one who didn’t bother to ask about the impact of the government’s decisions on existing power agreements before changes were made?
Alternatively, will Environment Minister Shannon Phillips be held accountable? After all, Minister Phillips has been the face for the government’s plan for restructuring the electricity sector.
Just like the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” it usually takes a team of people to commit a multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Who else will take the fall? Surely the ministers in question have staff that should have looking into the situation and asked questions before the government decided to restructure an entire industry. Will they be held accountable too?
While the government claims they only recently found out about the part in the agreements that is triggering the kerfuffle, the Wildrose Party has released documents that it claims prove the government knew last September. If that’s the case, Premier Notley needs to explain that inaccuracy as well.
One thing is clear, Premier Notley needs to hold someone in government accountable. The public isn’t buying her government’s rhetoric that the $2 billion mistake is everyone else’s fault.
Colin Craig works for the Manning Centre and is the author of The Government Wears Prada
This column was published by the Calgary Sun on July 31, 2016