UCP Leadership Race: Corb Lund wants answers about coal mining

Alberta country artist Corb Lund delivered a familiar tune with a fresh twist Tuesday, when he called on UCP leadership candidates to make their coal policies “crystal clear” ahead of the final votes being cast.

Lund went public in January 2021 with his criticism of plans to establish new coal mines in and around the province’s Rocky Mountains.

The outcry from him and others prompted the United Conservative Party government to back down from its position to remove a coal policy that had been in place since 1976.

“The government would like you to think that the coal issue in Alberta has been dealt with and has been put to bed, and it very much has not been,” Lund stated in a Twitter video..

“All the indications I’ve seen and heard is that the foreign coal companies are working away in the background, biding their time, trying to get those mines in, whether the Alberta public wants it or not.”

Lund argues that the risk of polluting water and agricultural land is not worth a “handful of jobs” in new mines. He worries long-term effects could harm the farming and tourism industries that other workers rely on.

“I’m not against resources, I’m not. I’m just against this idea cause this is a stupid idea. There should not be any new coal mines in the Rockies in Alberta,” Lund stated.

Lund named frontrunners Brian Jean, Travis Toews and Danielle Smith and asked for their platforms on coal.

BRIAN JEAN

Jean responded to Lund by saying he shares concerns about Alberta’s watershed. He didn’t, however, specifically say he would ban all new mines.

After speaking with ranchers in the foothills of southern Alberta, Jean stated he is against “the Kenney government’s efforts to dramatically expand coal mining.”

“These folks who have always been conservative voters know that in BC, just over the Rockies, there have been water problems with coal mining companies not doing things right. We have to do things better in Alberta.

TRAVIS TOEWS

Toews also tweeted a response to Lund that did not commit to stopping new mines.

Instead, Toews promised to implement the recommendations of the Alberta Coal Policy Committee which he feels will improve consultation, reclamation and Indigenous input on mines.

“Implementing these recommendations will create the certainty that investors need to commit to new projects, creating jobs and keeping communities vibrant,” Toews stated.

Smith did not respond to Lund on Twitter. A spokesperson for her told CTV News Edmonton that he would work on getting a response from the candidate.

Alberta’s website said Wednesday that coal lease sales and exploration activity remain paused.

on lands classified as Category 2 in the Coal Policy and that changes would be subject to “widespread consultation.”

Lund is asking a fair question, political scientist Lori Williams said, adding it’s a shame it wasn’t asked before UCP mail-in voting began.

Candidates have spent most of the race speaking about Alberta autonomy, COVID-19 policies, and “freedom” rather than healthcare, affordability and issues like coal mining, Williams pointed out.

“They really have not addressed the front and center issues for most Albertans. I think it’s a failure of the race, a failure of the candidates and it may lead to their failure as candidates or as a party in the next election,” she told. CTV News Edmonton.

Mail-in voting in the UCP leadership race started earlier this month and in-person voting and results are scheduled to happen Oct. 6.

With files from The Canadian Press

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