By Lethbridge Herald on April 14, 2015.
Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice made a commitment to uphold the rights of Alberta landowners in the face of Alberta Surface Rights Board decisions that compromised their ability to receive payments for use of their land when companies leasing the property go bankrupt. In decisions in 2013 and 2014, the Board denied the Lemke family their yearly lease payments from Petroglobe Inc. for use of their land, after the company filed for bankruptcy.
“Since I was a young lawyer, and well into my political career, I’ve fought for the property rights of families like the Lemkes,” said Prentice. “They don’t deserve to have their property rights shoved aside in bureaucratic battles. Landowners deserve to have their rights protected, and that’s what a government I lead will continue to do. It’s the reason the first piece of legislation I put forward as Premier was one to further protect property rights in this province.”
Prentice said he would be asking the Alberta Surface Rights Board to review its decisions with respect to the Lemke family.
“It’s simply not fair for landowners to be moved to the back of the line when companies go bankrupt,” said Prentice. “I believe the purpose of the Alberta Surface Rights Board is to stand up for landowners, and in these particular cases, that didn’t happen. I will take steps to deal with that as Premier after this election. A re-elected Progressive Conservative government under my leadership will be formally requesting that the Alberta Surface Rights Board reconsider its decisions in these cases.”
The legislation governing the Alberta Surface Rights Board gives it broad, unrestricted discretion to review and reconsider its decisions at any time, if either requested by the government, or on its own initiative.
Last week, Prentice visited the Whaleback region in southwestern Alberta, an area he fought to protect in the early 1990’s from development that would have put its natural beauty in jeopardy. He wrote about his visit and experiences fighting for property rights in the area here.
In the Progressive Conservative Plan, it states: “Private ownership is a fundamental principle of our democracy and economy. We respect the property rights of all Albertans. The introduction of Bill 1, the Respecting Property Rights Act, repealed previous property rights legislation that concerned landowners across the province (Bill 19). The Respecting Property Rights Act is a solid base from which to start to rebuild a lasting commitment to these key rights.”
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