September 20th, 2018

No place for abusive behaviour


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on May 11, 2018.

Several gov’t bills working their way through legislature

While preparing for this month’s column, I received the video clip regarding the incident that occurred in a Denny’s restaurant in our constituency. I decided to take the opportunity to respond to this ugly, abusive and intolerable behaviour.

As an MLA and as a member of this community, I unequivocally condemn the racism that took place at Denny’s. I join Mayor Spearman in welcoming all to our city, and in addressing racism in Lethbridge in an honest and forthright way. In Alberta, we recognize, celebrate and respect diversity. But we know there is still work to do. That’s why we have been reaching out to communities across Alberta to take practical steps to fight racism, foster acceptance and promote inclusion and diversity today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

In Lethbridge we celebrate our diversity. I am committed to addressing abuse, whether in our communities or in the Legislature. The recent incident should not be tolerated and we all have to be part standing up against this kind of behaviour. I ask each and every one of you to be part of condemning and addressing this issue in our city and our province.

Speaking of safety and respect, as we introduced and debated Bill 9, better known as the “bubblezone legislation” in the Legislature, an opposition caucus continues to walk out of the session and intentionally avoid doing their duties as MLAs.

Our caucus believes the bill to be an important measure to protect women from abuse as they seek medical advice or procedures, including abortion. I have spoken and voted in favour of this bill. Having a diversity of opinions and arguments in the Assembly is welcome, and is the pinnacle of our democracy, and in this case we did not get the opportunity to hear from our colleagues.

As MLAs, our main responsibility is to represent, debate and vote on legislation in the Chamber. This is how our constituents have a voice and an official record of their member’s spoken record, and their voting record in Hansard. You can’t hide from Hansard unless you hide in the hallway.

As we continue in the spring session of the Legislature, I continue to be proud of how our government is working hard to make life better for Albertans. There are 10 government bills currently in various stages of the legislative process. If you are interested in learning more about any of these bills please contact my office and the information will be provided.

Two pieces of legislation are of particular interest to consumers: Bill 14, an Act to Empower Utility Consumers. This act expands the Utilities Consumer Advocate free mediation services to water bills. The Utilities Consumer Advocate has a proven track record for protecting natural gas and electricity consumers when contacted. Additionally, water, sewage and drainage is also now part of their mandate and this makes it a one-stop for Albertans to resolve disputes with their utility bills. The bill also expands the role of the Advocate to report on the performance of gas and electricity companies. This provides consumers with the opportunity to make a more informed choice when buying power or natural gas.

The second bill which lies along the same vein is Bill 13, an Act to Secure Alberta’s Energy Future. This bill is intended to create a way for the Alberta Utilities Commissioner to impose fines on utility companies which fail to bill consumers accurately. It will provide more ways for Albertans to generate their own electricity. It will also provide for future price and supply stability for energy through a capacity market.

Roadblocks by the B.C. government against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion have caused uncertainty and hurt investor confidence, resulting in pipeline delays and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue to the Canadian economy. The delays are impacting hundreds of thousands of jobs, not just in Alberta, but across Canada, not to mention better schools and better hospitals as a result.

Building on Alberta’s traditional strengths, Bill 1: The Energy Diversification Act moves us away from the boom-and-bust policies of the past without sacrificing our leadership in oil and gas. Developing our raw resources into higher-value products before exporting them makes good economic sense. Renewal of the Petrochemical Diversification Program will build on the successful first round, which awarded support for two projects expected to create more than 4,000 construction jobs and over 200 full-time jobs during operation.

Finally, come out and enjoy a Taste of Nii’ tsi’ tap’ ii (Blackfoot/indigenous), tickets are $12 for children and $20 for adults, and it starts at 6:30 p.m. The event takes place at the Multicultural Centre (421 6 Ave. S.).

I can best serve you when I hear from you. Lethbridge-East Constituency Office is open for walk-ins weekdays, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. You can also reach us by telephone at 403-320-1011 or by email at lethbridge.east@assembly.ab.ca.

Maria Fitzpatrick is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge East. Her column appears monthly.

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