Back-tracking now shows they haven’t a clue: Green Party Leader Slams Government for Wanting to Put Energy Leases for Mountain Caribou Habitat up for Sale

Janet Keeping, leader of the Green Party of Alberta, today condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the provincial government’s plan to put energy leases on 21,000 hectares of northwestern Alberta up for sale because these lands provide essential habitat to the Redrock-Prairie Creek mountain caribou herd.  Yesterday the government announced it was delaying the sale because of pushback from the public.  But the fundamental problem remains – the provincial government has no commitment to environmental values, including the need to conserve bio-diversity.

A recent Canadian Press article notes that “Federal scientists have said all Alberta’s mountain caribou herds should be considered endangered, the most serious category under Canadian preservation of species law.  …  Figures from 2010, the latest available, show that about half that caribou range was already disturbed.  Ottawa’s caribou recovery plan, issued last summer, said no more than one-third of a herd’s range should be disrupted by industrial activity.”

According to Keeping, planning to put these lands up for lease – now postponed, but still on the drawing board – “shows that the Alberta government’s professed concern for environmental values amounts to nothing.  We’re living in a petro-state where oil and gas prevail over everything else, all the time.  It is a profoundly unsustainable situation.”

Yesterday in announcing the delay, Alberta Energy spokesperson Chris Bourdeau said “That gives us a little more time to take a look at the issue and do our due diligence … because Albertans are very aware of some of the challenges concerning caribou, and government shares that concern.”

But as Keeping sees it:  “Are they joking?  So they didn’t carry that due diligence before they put these lands up for bid?  That’s what Bourdeau’s saying.  And no, the PC government most emphatically does not share Albertans’ concern about caribou.  They wanted to sell these leases so that the very business operations which are exterminating the mountain caribou in other areas can be extended.  This government absolutely can’t be trusted on the environmental front.

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Experts on wildlife conservation say there are ways that oil and gas activity could be made compatible with sustaining the caribou.  For example, mandating the use of directional drilling would go a long way to minimizing impact on caribou habitat.  But so far the Alberta government has not bothered to require companies to take such measures.

According to Keeping, “Piled on top of an already unacceptable situation, any new leasing would be outrageous.  The Ministers of the departments concerned – Frank Oberle, Energy, and Kyle Fawcett, Environment & Sustainable Resource Development – should be ashamed of themselves.  And maybe Premier Prentice should this time, himself, look in the mirror – after all he appointed these people.”

Albertans need to keep up the pressure on this issue.  By all means write to Oberle and Fawcett, and Prentice of course.  But have some fun with the issue too.  Get creative – write a poem or a song, or make a video.  And send them to the Green Party for posting on our web site.

With apologies to all those who appreciate good poetry, I’ll get the ball rolling with my bad poetry in a good cause”:

Ode to the Mountain Caribou

They’re ruining hunks of your homeland

Not caring what to you it will do

They’re all about money and clueless

I guess it sucks to be you, Caribou


They’re so in love with the oil and gas biz

They don’t get the huge harm it can do

They sit in their towers and plot against you

I guess it sucks to be you, Caribou


But your beauty is nevertheless dazzling

And your grandeur undeniable too

Being blind, they miss all web that entirely

So I wonder, it sucks to be who?


When a person can’t see beauty in nature

And thinks only of the money they’re “due”

Perhaps in a way they’re to be pitied

So I wonder, it sucks to be who?


Janet Keeping can be reached at

(403) 283 8085

(403) 383 1356 (cell/text)



Susan Stratton, President, Green Party of Alberta, can be reached at

(403) 289 7179