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Bevington rattles Commons cages

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services
Monday, May 28, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington, and NDP Energy Critic, wants the government to establish an energy security policy for Canada following similar advice the Alberta-based Parkland Institute provided the Commons Standing Committee on International Trade May 10.

"The uncontrolled approach to the sale of our natural gas supplies over the past decade under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is going to leave Canadians relying on foreign supplies in the future," said Bevington.

Both the institute and Bevington blame the Security and Prosperity Partnership between the United States, Canada and Mexico for the lack of any policy with respect to energy security in this country.

"Rather than pledging allegiance to U.S. energy security behind closed doors, Canada should look after the needs of Canadians first," said Gordon Laxer of Parkland.

After recent price-spikes at the gas pump, Bevington has called for a Petroleum Monitoring Agency to investigate and control gas prices across the country.

"A little over two weeks ago in my hometown of Fort Smith, the price of gasoline was $1.20 a litre... (then) prices at the pump jumped to $1.31," he said. "It's puzzling to me that a community only 800 miles from the Strathcona refinery (in Alberta) had seen a larger (price) increase than Edmonton."

The NDP Energy Critic linked the monitoring agency with the development of a National Energy Strategy and an East-West Energy Grid as a plan to deal with escalating gas prices, climate change and Canada's Kyoto obligations.

Bevington also called on Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice to approve the recent Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board decision rejecting an application to allow Ur-Energy to explore for uranium in the Thelon basin.

The Western Arctic MP also blamed government negotiators, alleging they "forced" the Akaitcho into withdrawing land claims in the Thelon.

"I'm frustrated and angry that the Akaitcho have been strong-armed into giving up their rights to sacred land... I'm now concerned that the minister will just override the board's decision in favour of an international mining corporation," he said.