Alberta premier dissolves government; power line opponents hopeful

The premier of the Canadian province of Alberta, Alison Redford, on March 26 dissolved the province’s 27th Legislative Assembly and called for a general election to be held April 23.

Provincial officials told TransmissionHub nothing will change with regard to transmission projects that have already been approved.

“We are an independent regulatory agency, so [the premier’s action] doesn’t affect us whatsoever,” a spokesperson for the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) told TransmissionHub minutes after the March 26 announcement. “We carry on, we continue with the projects that we have underway.”

Those projects includes three major transmission efforts: the Eastern Alberta transmission line (EATL), the Western Alberta transmission line (WATL), and the Heartland transmission line, the spokesperson said.

The need for those lines was established by Bill 50, a measure passed by the Legislative Assembly under the previous premier, Ed Stelmach. The need for the EATL and WATL was reaffirmed on Feb. 23 by the Critical Transmission Review Committee (CTRC), a committee appointed by Redford to review the need for the projects.

Some opponents of those projects told TransmissionHub they are hopeful the upcoming election will indeed bring change.

“I think there’s going to be a dramatic turn-around,” Colleen Boddez, founder of the Alberta Landowners Council told TransmissionHub on March 26. “[The Progressive Conservative party] has taken their power and let it go to their heads. They’ve forgotten what it means to represent people and their constituents and…I don’t think Albertans will stand for it.”

“We’ve very hopeful that, when we go to the polls, Albertans are going to realize the only way to get rid of this massive overbuild [of the EATL, the WATL, and the Heartland line] is to get rid of the government that doesn’t want to listen to Albertans,” she continued.

Under the Canadian system, candidates run for seats in the Legislative Assembly. Following the general election, the leader of the party that commands a majority in the Assembly is then legally appointed the Premier by the Lieutenant Governor, acting on behalf of the Crown, which is the name for the legal embodiment of the government.

Redford’s Progressive Conservative (PC) party has held the majority government for 41 years but is facing growing opposition from the Wildrose Party. In addition, it faces ongoing opposition from the Alberta party, the Liberal party, and the New Democratic Party (NDP).

If any of those other parties gains control, Boddez said, all bets are off regarding the controversial transmission projects. “The Wildrose party, the Alberta party, the Liberal party, and the NDP have all said – to us – that they would repeal legislation that authorize the transmission lines,” Boddez said.

That may be little more than wishful thinking. At the time of its dissolution, members of the PC party held an overwhelming majority of 66 of the 82 filled seats. The Liberal party was the next closest with eight seats, the Wildrose party held four, and the NDP party had two representatives.

”It’s disappointing that Premier Redford didn’t do what she should have done before she called an election, and that was to put a stop to the EATL and the WATL,” the Alberta Landowners Council’s Boddez said. “She obviously [wasn’t] listening.”