Kenney to bring in stiff penalties against railway blockaders as Alberta legislature resumes
CALGARY -- Alberta politicians will return to the legislature Tuesday and the UCP government is taking aim at protesters who interfere with major energy projects.
Premier Kenney is expected to table the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act (Bill 1), which will target protesters who set up blockades and create stiffer penalties for anyone who seeks to impair critical economic infrastructure, including railways.
Punishments include a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum of $25,000, plus up to six months in jail for individuals and and a minimum fine of $10,000 and a maximum of $200,000 for corporations.
The province has been critical of blockades in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation opposition of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project in British Columbia.
Kenney says blockades have cost jobs and hurt the economy.
"We need national leadership to ensure that Canada is a country characterized by the rule of law," said Kenney. "We are pleased to see that action is finally being taken by police services to enforce court orders, but Alberta will do its part."
Kenney adds the protests have been in part to blame for Teck Resources withdrawing its application for the $20.6 billion Frontier oilsands mine project.
Meanwhile, opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley is criticizing the UCP government for not taking real climate action.
"While the rest of the world is rolling up their sleeves to tackle climate change, Jason Kenney is costing us jobs by ignoring the problem," said Notley in a Twitter post.
"Premier Kenney needs to get on with the real work — which is to balance our economic prosperity with our environmental responsibilities."
Kenney vowed to confront climate change and revitalize the economy when he spoke to staff and his caucus Monday in Edmonton. The premier also said that the province is prepared, "as Peter Lougheed did", to directly invest in resource companies.
The success of the Kenney government will likely be directly tied to a prosperous oil and gas sector, the creation of jobs and a stronger economy.
The province’s unemployment rate in 2019 was above the national average at seven per cent. Last year, Alberta lost 20,000 full-time jobs while 16,000 part-time jobs were gained in that timeframe.
A speech from the throne from Lt. Gov. Lois Mitchell will kick off the second session of the 30th Alberta Legislative Assembly at 3 p.m.
Tuesday’s session also comes just two days before Finance Minister Travis Toews tables the provincial budget.