Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Alberta - Conservatives Busted!

Having lived through a dozen years of lies and deceptions like this is it any wonder the Conservatives are on their way out?

December 18, 2007

Government Ignored Evidence Albertans Weren’t Getting Fair Share, FOIP Shows

Edmonton – The Alberta Liberals have obtained some of the internal royalty documents referenced by the Auditor General, which indicate that the Minister of Energy knew the royalty regime wasn’t getting a fair return for Albertans.

One of these documents, Executive Committee Decision Request, identified serious shortcomings in the existing royalty systems. Department officials recommended an increase in the royalty rates but the Minister at the time, Greg Melchin, failed to act.

“This government report clearly indicates that Albertans were not receiving a fair share,” says Alberta Liberal Shadow Energy Minister Hugh MacDonald. “Yet, the Minister hid this information from the resource owners - the public.”

The Executive Committee Decision Request raised serious warnings about the need for changes to the royalty system, including the following points:

“Wood Mackenzie: industry returns in Alberta are among the highest (out of 67 jurisdictions compared, between 1994-2003).” (Page 299)

“Inadequate competition in existing bitumen markets places a greater share of risk with the Crown that was expected when the oil sands fiscal terms were designed.” (Page 300)

“It is recommended that the Department of Energy present to Government for approval a Sustainability Levy with… increased conventional oil and natural gas royalty rates at high prices; and, royalty credits for qualifying strategic value creation investments in Alberta.” (Page 301)

“This report shows that royalty changes were urgently needed, yet the Minister of Energy continued to tell Albertans that everything was fine,” says MacDonald. “Why didn’t the Minister act in the best interest of Albertans and raise royalty rates? Albertans deserve answers.”

The Alberta Liberals received the report last week in response to a freedom of information request. The document is highly censored. MacDonald is writing a letter to the privacy commissioner asking for a review of the department’s use of the FOIP act to hide information.

“If the government has nothing to hide, then why are they censoring this report?” asks MacDonald. “The Minister has yet to provide any evidence that contradicts his department’s own reports.”
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For more information, or for a faxed copy of the FOIP documents, please contact:

Hugh MacDonald, Shadow Energy Minister or Yolande Cole, Media Liaison
(780) 914-5270 (780) 446-6868

John Clark
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