Harper, Kenney spearheaded coal shutdown: writer

Candidate says NDP supports coal communities, workers through transition

I want to take this opportunity to address some comments made in the Jan. 17 Pipestone Flyer article about the coal phase out.

The first fact missing from this story is that the federal Conservative government under Stephen Harper began discussions on closing coal plants in 2006. These discussions continued while Jason Kenney was sitting at the cabinet table.

The plan they brought forward would have seen most Alberta coal plants closed by 2030, and included regulations that would have prevented all Alberta coal plants from converting to natural gas.

But what’s most concerning is that their plan did absolutely nothing to support the affected communities and workers.

It’s the Rachel Notley government that fought to repel Harper-era regulations and ensured Alberta coal plants can continue operating past federally mandated end-dates by converting to natural gas, and ensured protecting some of the jobs that were affected as coal plants transitioned.

But the Notley government didn’t stop there: they brought forward a plan that would support workers and communities in the transition period so that coal communities could continue to play a key economic role in our province’s future – more facts missing from last week’s article.

The Coal Community Transition Fund saw $5 million go to coal communities across Alberta to help with economic diversification. While Parkland County chose not to propose a project to access these funds, it’s important to mention that provincial money was always available to them.

But what is most remarkable in my view is the commitment made by the Notley government to make sure workers weren’t left behind. The $40 million dollar Coal Workforce Transition Fund saw workers receive one-on-one support from Alberta Labour with access to a variety of professional certifications, job matching, and employment placements. Also, $12,000 tuition vouchers are provided to those who want to access retraining. And the bridge-to-retirement relief grants were made easier to access for older workers near retirement.

This provincial government also negotiated extended EI payments for coal workers from the federal government and obtained guarantees from power companies that they would meet their obligations to their employees, such as severance pay and pensions.

These kinds of measures show that the Notley government has the backs of coal communities and coal workers. The impact of phasing out coal would have been severe with the Conservative’s plan – or lack of a community-and-economy focused plan.

Lastly, I do need to address the misconception that Alberta is “buying coal-fired electricity from Montana.” The fact is that’s just not the case. Tonbridge Power started to build the Montana-Alberta Tie-Line (MATL) between Lethbridge and Great Falls, Montana, in 2005, and it was completed by Enbridge in 2013, They explicitly said they were doing so to share low-cost, excess wind energy between Alberta and Montana to ensure those rural communities are less vulnerable to power outages.

Looking to the future, I would rather we create local jobs by producing more wind, solar or gas-powered electricity right here in Alberta.

Rachel Notley has proven that she’s committed to fight for good Alberta jobs and that her government will not let coal communities and coal workers down. That’s what leadership looks like.

Kieran Quirke, Devon

Alberta NDP Candidate for Drayton Valley-Devon

Just Posted

Unsightly premises fees added to County of Wetaskiwin tax bill

Property owner cannot be located, so contractor cleaned yard

Alberta RCMP reminds Albertans how to be ‘egg-stra’ safe this Easter

Put away phone while driving, plan for a designated driver

Wetaskiwin’s Leaders of Tomorrow honoured Apr. 8

Four youth impress the Wetaskiwin community

UPDATED Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin winner Wilson says Alberta wanted change

UPDATED Both Rick Wilson and Mark Smith had no trouble Apr. 16 with opposing parties

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Almost a year ago Kenney dismissed Trudeau as a dilettante and a lightweight

‘Open for business:’ Jason Kenney’s UCP wins majority in Alberta election

The UCP was leading or elected in 63 of 87 seats Tuesday night

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Most Read