Submitter disturbed by “fear-mongering” accusations

Dear Editor,

Recently when Rachel Notley questioned Health Minister Ron Liepert about the leaked Alberta Health Services medical staff newsletter that outlined a proposal to downgrade ten hospitals in rural Alberta, the minister called her a “fear-monger”.

When I spoke out against Bill 19 at a public meeting in Innisfail and voiced concern that the bill laid the groundwork for the acquisition of land and water for the introduction of nuclear power in Alberta, the Minister of Infrastructure, Jack Hayden called me a fear-monger. That same evening, another MLA labelled me “fear-mongering BSer” for raising my concerns.

This “fear-monger” insult seems to be the latest line of defense whenever someone questions our government’s plans for this province. If one frets that unrestricted Oil Sands development threatens the health of people living downstream of Ft. MacMurray, they are labelled fear-mongers.

Ed Stelmach started out with all sorts of public consultation, but he has since ‘gone to ground’ and hunkered down behind a wall of defense that portrays concerned Albertans as a fanatic Chicken Littles running around yelling, “the sky is falling… the sky is falling.”

What is wrong with asking why Albertan children need to be examined in a tent? Why are citizens insulted for asking whether or not to put a hold on Oil Sands development until we know what it is doing to people’s health and the environment? Can’t we talk about the dangers and costs of nuclear power in a mature way? The stakes in all these issues are high; the questions complex and the need for public input obvious.

Living in a democracy is all about asking questions. Allowing the introduction of nuclear power into to Alberta would be such a monumental change for this province it deserves a full-fledged, wide-open public debate that engages each and every Albertan. What we get from our government instead is an invitation to “send us an email with your thoughts.” It is astounding that there will be zero public debate around this issue. That’s scary!

Rachel Notley asked a perfectly good question about the leaked document. Minister Liepert’s response was shameful. This fear-monger label now gets cast about so freely every time someone points out a legitimate concern. What happened to our democracy in Alberta? When did it become wrong to question government?

Nuclear power is scary for many of us. Losing our hospitals in rural Alberta is terrifying. Not being able to take our children to a fully equipped hospital is gut wrenching. Losing funding for medication is frightening. Potentially being brought before a human rights tribunal for teaching evolution in a classroom is daunting.

When the facts are frightening, it’s natural to be scared. Perhaps it’s time to change those scary facts and perhaps it’s time to label the real purveyors of fear in this province; not the questioners but those who hide behind insults and aspersions rather than face honest questions with mature answers. When the facts are scary, maybe it’s time to change the facts.

But according to Alberta’s Minister of Infrastructure, Jack Hayden and MLA Evan Berger, you don’t have to worry about anything I write; I’m just a “fear-monger”.

William Munsey

Deputy Leader

Green Party of Alberta

New Sarepta, Alta.