Rajan Sawhney for UCP Leader Coal Policy: Upholding the Lougheed Legacy

“I think as an owner. When we were in government, I thought as an owner. The people of Alberta are the owner of the resource. Public policy in Alberta should reflect that ownership.”

- Peter Lougheed

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a Leadership Candidate Forum in Morinville - St. Albert.   One of the questions posed to all the candidates was about the environment and did we, as candidates for leadership, plan to leave the environment better for our children and grandchildren?

My answer was yes, of course! I believe that no one cares more about our environment than Albertans, including farmers and ranchers, Indigenous Albertans and families that just love going to the mountains or rafting on a river.  That includes our energy, forestry and agricultural industries that are genuinely dedicated stewards of land, water and air.

This is why, as Premier, as a key environmental policy, I will uphold the Lougheed Legacy by implementing all the recommendations of the Coal Policy Committee. When I was a Cabinet Minister, the Coal Policy Committee’s principal recommendations were all accepted, but are yet to be implemented.

To provide some background, the Coal Policy committee spent over nine months listening extensively to Albertans across the province and issued a Final Report.

This engagement included:

  • 67 sessions that touched over 70 different groups including unions, industry associations, municipalities and interest groups.
  • 176 detailed written submissions and 17 engagement sessions held in two exhaustive site tours across the Province.
  • Engagement sessions with Indigenous representatives from southern, central and northern Alberta in addition to sessions with band councils, the Metis Settlements Association and Indigenous advocacy groups.
  • A survey across Alberta in which nearly 25,000 Albertans responded on the issue of coal.
  • Documented concerns from communities like High River that included concerns from as many as 35 Alberta municipalities about the coal issue with 25 municipalities endorsing High River’s proposed policy recommendations.

This process undertaken by the Committee clearly demonstrated that this issue galvanized a large number of Alberta municipalities, in addition to other interest groups and individuals. The Committee experienced an outpouring of interest from Albertans, some in support of coal and many others not so inclined, who clearly desired to speak directly and openly through the committee to government decision-makers about an issue in which many had a vital interest.  

Albertans wanted the opportunity to express their views not just about coal, water and land management issues but about the future direction of the province and the heritage bestowed by policies of this government on future generations of Albertans. Essentially, Albertans wanted to be meaningfully consulted about matters associated with resource development, especially with values associated with the preservation of the resources of the Eastern Slopes Region, including its waters.

I have reviewed the results and conclusions of the Coal Committee’s engagement process and the central recommendation of the Coal Policy Committee is for Alberta to follow existing laws and statutes, particularly the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA).  

I have also taken note of the demonstrated success of reclamation at several coal mining sites in Alberta. This success can be extended to other existing and historical sites across the Province in ways that restore the environment and provide new and meaningful jobs for Albertans to enhance our quality of life.  

As Premier, I will ensure that all Principal Recommendations made by the Committee, are not just followed but are implemented in a timely manner. This issue is clearly one of common, key interest to Albertans and I plan to ensure that the expectations of Albertans are not only acknowledged but are fully addressed by the Government of Alberta.  

To quote the Hon. Peter Lougheed: “I think as an owner. When we were in government, I thought as an owner. The people of Alberta are the owner of the resource. Public policy in Alberta should reflect that ownership.”

I agree with, and respect, that previous commitment expressed by Premier Lougheed and as your leader and Premier I intend that it will also be my sincere commitment to all Albertans.