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We Request a Conflict of Interest Inquiry and Cost-Benefit Analysis on Alberta Climate Plan and Carbon Tax

Posted by Michelle Stirling © December 5, 2016

On this day we have requested a Conflict of Interest Inquiry by the Ethics Commissioner of Alberta and a Cost-Benefit Analysis from the Auditor General of Alberta.

The introduction of our letter follows – the complete pdf can be read by clicking on the link below this introduction:

ATTN: Marguerite Trussler, Q.C.

Ethics Commissioner of Alberta

Office of the Ethics Commissioner
Suite 1250, 9925 – 109 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada   T5K 2J8

Madame Commissioner,

RE: Conflicts of Interest, Lack of Fiduciary Responsibility, Possible Self-dealing

The NDP Climate Change Plan has multiple apparent conflicts of interest with regards to NDP MLAs, their close personal connections and past and present associations who benefit from the plan’s policies.

As recently reported by CBC news, in the Calgary Herald and other media, the Government of Alberta is concerned about conflicts of interest, with the NDP caucus chair is quoted as saying:

NDP caucus chair Heather Sweet wrote a letter Tuesday to ethics commissioner Marguerite Trussler, asking Trussler to look into the situation, which Sweet suggested “may be a real or perceived conflict of interest.”

In the letter, Sweet said Christine McIver operates Brighter Futures Energy and is a shareholder in the company.

“This is about the fact that we all have to abide by the same code of conduct and the same rules,” Sweet said. “So we wanted to make sure that while we’re entering into debate in the house and doing press releases, that that information is not breaching any type of conflict of interest.” [1]

According to the Conflicts of Interest Act, an MLA is not allowed to “influence or seek to influence a decision of the Crown to further a private interest of the member (or) … a person directly associated with the member.”[2]

Key determinants of the Conflicts of Interests Act of Alberta [3] are Section 8(1)(f) a Member breaches this act if…the Member’s spouse or adult interdependent partner receives a preference from the Crown on entering into the contract or receives a benefit under the contract not available to other members of the public under contracts of the same class…” and Section 8(5)(a) and that the “contract would not create a conflict of between the person contracting with the Crown and the public interest,” or Section 8(5) (b) “the contract is trivial.”

We are asking that the Alberta Climate Plan and carbon tax be frozen until such time as you have completed your review of the following and have issued a statement or ruling accordingly.

Following the lead of NDP caucus chair Heather Sweet, ensuring that conflicts of interests do not drive Alberta government policies, we ask you to investigate the following real or perceived conflicts of interest:

  1. Cost Benefit Analysis Absent To prevent preferential contracting that does not meet suitable cost-benefits for all citizens, proposed legislation has traditionally been run through the Alberta Multipliers Input/Output economic assessment.[4] To date, we have not seen any such cost-benefit of the Alberta Climate Plan.  We are asking that you make this a requirement of the government of Alberta, before the government proceeds with any further steps in the Alberta Climate Plan or Carbon Tax.

 

  1. Lack of Duty of Care; Lack of Fiduciary Care – At the time the NDP government took office in 2015, Alberta had no public debt for power utilities (See page 13). The overall multi-billion dollar financial risks of coal phase-out were publicly known and were brought up in the televised election debate of April 23, 2015 and specifically addressed to candidate Rachel Notley, by then Premier Jim Prentice, who, as former federal environment minister, had negotiated the federal coal phase-out schedule. [5] On Nov. 30, 2016, the Calgary Herald reported that the government is borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to cover losses in the power market, due to the Power Purchase Agreements contracts for coal, which were held by major companies and were returned to the Balancing Pool when the carbon tax legislation triggered the ‘more unprofitable’ Change of Law clause. [6] [7] As predicted by Mr. Prentice, billions of dollars must be paid out in compensation for stranded coal assets. [8] Change of law clauses are a normative feature of power purchasing agreements, as outlined by the World Bank. [9] The lack of due diligence and duty of care on this matter by the NDP government, indicates a breach of the public trust and may be driven by conflicts of interest outlined below.

FULL PDF of Letter to Ethics Commissioner:

dec-5-lt-to-ethics-commissioner-trussler-re-conflict-of-interest-final-blog

Footnotes of opening of the letter:

[1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-ethics-commissioner-asked-to-probe-possible-mciver-conflict-1.3864777

[2] “Decisions furthering private interests

2(1) A Member breaches this Act if the Member takes part in a decision in the course of carrying out the Member’s office or powers knowing that the decision might further a private interest of the Member, a person directly associated with the Member or the Member’s minor or adult child.” http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/C23.pdf

[3] http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/C23.pdf

[4] http://www.finance.alberta.ca/aboutalberta/osi/economic-impact-analysis/economic-multipliers/2011/Alberta-Economic-Multipliers-2011.pdf

[5] https://youtu.be/5oV5rfzffMc  (27:34)

[6] http://calgaryherald.com/business/energy/government-borrowing-hundreds-of-millions-to-cover-losses-in-power-market

[7] http://calgaryherald.com/business/energy/yedlin-writing-on-wall-for-coal-fired-power-purchase-arrangements

[8] http://www.nationalpost.com/capital+power+upgraded+alberta+compensation+stranded+coal+assets/12434729/story.html

[9] https://ppp.worldbank.org/public-private-partnership/sector/energy/energy-power-agreements/power-purchase-agreements “..Change of law – PPA should address impact on tariff in event of a change in applicable law and the mechanism for tariff adjustment. Lenders will be anxious to ensure that the cash flows of the project required for debt service are protected against changes in law.”

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for doing this!

  2. Excellent – well done

  3. Excellent, well done, lets get it done ….

  4. No not fair what is Trudeau doing,he does as he damn well pleases.I am against the carbon tax,us Canadians are paying for him to be supporting other countries,he has done nothing for Canadians this needs to be stopped.

  5. Right on go go go

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