Activist heckler challenges Stelmach on climate change

marc bence/for metro edmonton


Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach responds to heckling by Greenpeace activist Paul Baker, who attempted to present him the “Environmental Destroyer of the Year” award, at the Shaw Conference Centre yesterday. Stelmach was announcing a tax rebate for energy efficient appliances as part of his party’s green plan.

« I don’t know if he’s trying to run a campaign of fear or a campaign of goofiness »

Albertan households will receive a $100 tax rebate for buying energy efficient appliances if the Tory government is re-elected, Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach announced yesterday.

In unveiling his party’s green platform at the Shaw Conference Centre, Stelmach also committed to spending $50-million to transform the river valley into the world’s largest metropolitan park, stretching from near Devon to Fort Sask­atchewan.

But a Greenpeace activist quickly emerged from the crowd of Tory MLAs and party faithful to heckle the premier on his environmental record.

“How is your plan a green plan?” Paul Baker asked while attempting to present Stelmach with a mock “Environmental Destroyer of the Year” award. “Reductions by 2050 is out of the question. Reductions now or your plan won’t help anyone.”

But Stelmach countered that his climate change strategy is practical and achievable while Kyoto-style targets would slash 335,000 jobs and pull $1 billion out of the economy.

“I’m for good change for Albertans. I’m not about radical change,” he told the audience of Tory supporters, who immediately clapped and cheered. A member of the premier’s security team then removed the activist from the building.

In responding to the protester’s message, Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk noted that Albertans do want a clean environment, but the government can’t be focused on single agendas and make promises they can’t keep.

“We have a duty to keep the economy going, keep Albertans employed,” he said. “It’s always a very fine balance.”

But Liberal Leader Kevin Taft took issue with Stelmach not explaining where he was getting his figures from on massive job losses if harder green targets were utilized.

“I don’t know if he’s trying to run a campaign of fear or a campaign of goofiness,” he said. “Pulling numbers like that out of a hat doesn’t do the issue any justice.”

The Liberals are backing an absolute cap on greenhouse gas emissions within five years but also want to strike environmental consultations with the energy industry.

Meanwhile, New Democrat Leader Brian Mason vowed yesterday to increase oil royalties to fund a $20-billion green plan of his own.

During an announcement inside a small basement suite that uses geothermal heating, Mason said the new fund will support investments in renewable energy projects to

create jobs in “emerging industries that use and create green energy.”

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