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Editorial: Another lump of coal for UCP

Following weeks of public backlash, the UCP government has decided to reinstate Alberta’s 1976 coal policy.

The blowback had been strong indeed but not atypical, at least for this government.

The policy protects the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountain, and while the Jasper area was safely nestled within a national park, local councillor Jenna McGrath had voiced her worries about the possible impact to the water supply.

Whether closing down provincial parks or laying off staff for Alberta Health Services, the UCP has repeatedly faced heated opposition to its agenda.

Often, Premier Jason Kenney and his party have stood by these controversial initiatives.

Other times, such as with the provincial parks and this coal policy, they backtrack.

Sure enough, the pushback this time around regarding coal was strong enough for the UCP to not only cancel 11 recently awarded coal leases and pause future sales but later reinstate the policy.

Although better than staying the course, this reversal is reflective of indecision and a lack of foresight.

What else could be expected when there was no public consultation?

The government will need to reevaluate its public-relations strategy before attempting such a venture again.

To be fair, the UCP are faced with the monumental task of restarting the economy after the double whammy of the pandemic and oil price crash.

But it should refrain from falling back on the supposedly tried-and-true industries and instead diversify the economy in a way that is reflective of the overall direction the world is heading.

Peter Shokeir

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