EDMONTON - One of the Greenpeace protesters who disrupted Premier Ed Stelmach's speech to a Tory fundraising dinner is a member of the constituency staff for a New Democrat member of the legislature.

NDP member Rachel Notley has confirmed that 26-year-old Denise Ogonoski is a part-time staff member at her Edmonton-Strathcona constituency office.

Notley says she was not aware of any plans to disrupt the premier's speech and she plans to have a chat with Ogonoski.

Three Greenpeace activists were each given a $287 ticket for trespassing at the premier's speech Thursday evening.

Two protesters wearing climbing harnesses dropped from a catwalk and unravelled a banner decrying the expansion of Alberta's oilsands projects as an environmental disaster.

Stelmach's speech announced his plans to travel to southern California and central Europe later this year to dispel the Greenpeace message against rapid oilsands development.

Greenpeace says it's not affiliated with the NDP or any other party and any actions by Greenpeace volunteers are done voluntarily, on their own time, and are not done at the request of, in consultation with, or in the name of any political party.

"Once again the premier's office is trying to distract people from the real issues," Mike Hudema, a campaigner with Greenpeace, said in a news release Monday afternoon.

"The unregulated pace of development, the pollution and depletion of our water systems, and the poisoning of downstream communities are the real issues here.

"If the government is concerned about close political ties they should look no further than their own ties with the oil and gas industry."

Hudema pointed out that Stelmach appointed Suncor vice president Heather Kennedy as his deputy minister of tarsands development last year and that Stelmach's former campaign manager Randy Dawson is a lobbyist for Bruce Power to help bring nuclear energy to the province, Hudema points out.

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