September 9th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 35
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An honest NDP government?
LISA SYGUTEK
Publisher - The Pass Herald
I am asking a question of the people of the Crowsnest Pass.

Did you know before Friday, September 4, that the NDP government is enacting a plan to create an extra 1040 square kilometer park called the ‘Castle Provincial Park’ made up of a provincial and wildland park?

Well I didn’t until someone called me Thursday night to ask if I knew that the announcement was going to happen.

I felt bad as a media source because I didn’t know what was happening. I quickly went to work, late Thursday night, to find the press release, the invite, to find something. Only to find that we never received a thing.

So ... I called Ezra, my reporter, and said we have a meeting at Stone’s Throw on Friday morning at 11 a.m.

I was late because I couldn’t find parking so I walked down the street from our office to see several people standing outside listening to the announcement.

Like any good newsperson I shoved my way in (sorry if I walked on any toes) and placed myself at the front to find out what was going on. What’s the big announcement? Well it was big. Huge in fact, to the cultural and economic future of the area and the Castle region.

As I was standing there listening to Minister Phillips exude the greatness of the park all I could think about was, “geez that’s great” but why the hell weren’t we informed? I noticed CTV, CBC, the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sun and Lethbridge Herald. Somehow they were informed. Where was our Mayor? I did see councillors Cartwright, Ward and Filipuzzi. Were they informed? Where the hell was our MLA Pat Stier?
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The reason why none of them were there is that no one from the NDP government informed them either. At least I was in elite company. Our own council, our own MLA and your own local newspaper of 85 years were not informed of the meeting.

So I listened. I heard that 1040 square kilometers of land in the Castle Mountain region is being converted into a park. I heard how the NDP government is following their election platform. I found out that Minister Phillips is interested because her drinking water and that of her constituents in Lethbridge flows from this area. I listened to reporters from Calgary ask questions. What I didn’t hear was what this will do to the economy of the Crowsnest Pass.

I heard words like, “we will work with you to grow your economy.” Exactly what does that mean? If you can’t even inform the local council that you’ll be undertaking a radical plan that will change our community for good, how can we know what your plans are for the economy? How can we - a Wildrose riding - trust the Notley government?

So like any good publisher I walked up to Minister Phillips and asked why she hadn’t informed the media, who by default, can inform the people of our community? Her response, “well I didn’t know you were here.” Didn’t know we were here? WOW! The Pass Herald is more than twice as old as Minister Phillips, how didn’t she know we were here? She talks about following through with her government platform, so I suggest she follow them all, especially the one about ‘honesty, ethics and trust.’

Do I think the parks are a good idea? I have no issues with the parks as long as there is input and public consultation with everyone who is affected, not just a select few who were informed about the meeting. I urge you to visit the Alberta Parks website where you can give your opinion. You have 30 days from last Friday.

www.albertaparks.ca/consult.
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Am I upset? you bet. Not because of the parks but because of the blatant lack of communication with our council, our MLA and the local media.

You know who the Minister is interested in communicating with?
“All eyes are on Alberta’s international reputation right now,” she said. “Especially regarding the environment.”

News of the announcement was leaked by the Calgary Herald on Thursday by an unnamed source so that the province and nation would be informed but were the actual people who will be living next to this park informed? No!

Seems to me she’s more interested in informing the national and international media that the government loves nature, than acknowledging the opinions of the citizens of the Crowsnest Pass.

Newsflash Minister! your constituents include all Albertans including loggers, miners and oil and gas workers who raise families in this community and generate wealth within this province, not just to the dedicated environmentalists who helped elect you. You haven’t been in power long so I’ll spell it out for you: this is not Fort McMurray, it’s not our fault when Leonardo DiCaprio flies in for a grip and grin and calls you terrible, your job is to govern not to pine over what the other countries are saying. Your job is to inform the people in your constituency when something this big is happening next door, in our backyards.

I’m glad news outlets from Calgary and Lethbridge were there because the NDP needs a pat on the back while we received a slap in the face by not being informed.

I guess the border of Alberta really does end at Lethbridge and north, cause that seems to be the constituents you were most readily want to impress.

Lisa Sygutek
Publisher - The Pass Herald
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September 9th ~ Vol. 85 No. 35
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