Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Resists Calls to Sack Environment Minister over Parks Row

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Resists Calls to Sack Environment Minister over Parks Row

Article excerpt

Premier backs minister in parks row


FORT SASKATCHEWAN, Alta. - Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is resisting growing opposition demands to fire her environment minister over comments about RCMP involvement in a new parks plan.

"I certainly will not (fire Phillips)," Notley said when asked Thursday.

"We have made tremendous progress in the last three years (on the environmental file) and that has happened as a result of the determined, informed, intelligent leadership of the minister, who has my complete support."

The Opposition United Conservatives and the Alberta Party want Phillips to step down over her remarks about the RCMP's role in public information sessions on a proposal to create a network of provincial parks in western Alberta.

The plan calls for eight new parks covering 4,000 square kilometres in what is known as Bighorn Country along the eastern edges of Banff and Jasper national parks.

Residents and area officials have raised concerns about how the project might affect oil and gas exploration, the forestry industry and off-road vehicle use.

The government is getting public feedback online and planned to hold a number of community information sessions.

Two were held in Rocky Mountain House in December. But last weekend Phillips announced she was cancelling the remaining four scheduled for this week after receiving reports that public safety was at risk.

Phillips told media on Sunday that she made the decision after consulting with her officials and the RCMP, but Mounties said in a statement they did not -- and cannot -- give advice on such matters.

On Wednesday, addressing concerns she had over-reacted on the security threat, Phillips said nine of her officials had reported being harassed over the Bighorn plan. She also said there were at least two RCMP investigations into the matter. …

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