Thursday, nearly one thousand Albertans participated in a rally at the Servus Arena in Red Deer to protest the NDP government’s proposed land use changes to the Bighorn Backcountry.
The Notley government is planning to turn a vast swath of western Alberta into a provincial wildland park, but the plan is facing steep and vocal opposition from locals, First Nations and businesses within the region.
Public consultations on the new park were canceled by Environment Minister Shannon Phillips who accused Bighorn area residents of threatening and bullying those who were in support of the plans for the new park.
But those threats never happened. The RCMP confirmed on at least two separate occasions that they had no investigations related to these alleged threats at Bighorn consultations.
Shannon Phillips lied.
She vilified normal Albertans and made allegations of criminal behaviour based on their disagreement with her land use changes. She lied to shut down the consultations that weren’t going her way, and thereby denied Bighorn residents the ability to participate in democracy.
At Thursday's rally, organized by Garet Schmidt of Love Our Trails, I spoke to locals and those who make use of the backcountry to get their opinions on the NDP’s proposed land use changes, and I asked them what they thought about Shannon Phillips’ and her lies. I even interviewed some people on horseback!
Aboriginal groups, hunters and anglers, industry representatives, off-highway vehicle groups, residents and nature lovers who spoke to me at the event said they have not been consulted by the NDP. They feel the changes are being rammed through and want the whole plan for the Bighorn to be restarted so that proper public engagement can occur.
Joey Pete, band councillor with the Sunchild First Nation, told the crowd the new park will infringe his treaty rights and vowed to fight the government to keep the land open for all who want to use it.
The event, despite what the government says about these folks, was peaceful and family friendly.
Public consultations restart today in Drayton Valley. Additional sessions are scheduled for Saturday in Edmonton, Sunday at the Westerner Park Harvest Centre in Red Deer (1-4 p.m.) and Monday in Sundre (Royal Canadian Legion from 4-7 p.m.).
P.S. Please sign my petition at FirePhillips.com calling on Rachel Notley to fire her lying Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, and to help fund my “Fire Phillips” billboard that we plan to erect on Highway 2.