To follow the ever-changing Stelmach vs. Boutilier drama, we’ve assembled a few links for your reading pleasure, and disbelief!
Fort McMurray Today – July 24
Edmonton Journal – July 18
Dave Cournoyer – Political Blogger – July 19
NowPublic – July 21
Guy Boutilier earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from St. Francis Xavier University, a Bachelor of Education from St. Mary’s University, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. He has worked as a financial analyst in the petroleum industry and as a business management instructor at Keyano College. He has also lectured at the University of Alberta’s school of business.
Boutilier was elected to the Fort McMurray city council on October 20, 1986 to a three year term as alderman. He was re-elected October 16, 1989, and was elected the youngest mayor in the city’s history October 22, 1992. He served in this capacity until April 1, 1995, when Fort McMurray lost its status as a city and was rolled into the new Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. He was the first mayor of this new municipality, serving until 1997 when he resigned to enter provincial politics.
Boutilier was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the 1997 Alberta election, when he ran as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Fort McMurray. The incumbent Liberal, Adam Germain, was not seeking re-election, and Boutilier won by defeating John Vyboh by more than a thousand votes. As a backbencher, he moved several bills: the Mines and Minerals Amendment Act was a 1997 government bill designed to enable the implementation of a generic royalty regime for new development in the Alberta oilsands and streamline the process for land leases to oil and gas companies by moving administrative elements from legislation to regulation. The bill passed with Liberal support, but New Democratic leader Pam Barrett opposed the bill out of concerns that it left the legislature out of debates in which it should play a role and provided overly-generous incentives to oil companies without requiring anything from them in return. Also in 1997, Boutilier sponsored the Cost Declaration Accountability Act, a private member’s bill that never reached second reading.
In 1998, Boutilier sponsored two more bills. The Railway Act was a government bill that modernized the rules governing the operation of railways in Alberta. The Liberals expressed general support for the bill, but ultimately opposed it on the basis of a clause that allowed cabinet to make regulations on “any matter that the Minister considers is not provided for or is insufficiently provided for” in the Act, which they considered to be dangerously broad. The bill passed. The same year, Boutilier sponsored the Government Accountability Amendment Act, a private member’s bill that would have required all government bills to include an associated financial cost to come before the legislature with an estimate of those costs for the ensuing three years. The bill was hoisted for six months on second reading on a motion by Wayne Cao, which, since the legislature was not in session six months later, effectively killed the bill.
He was re-elected in the 2001 election with a substantially increased margin over Vyboh. Following the 2001 election, Premier Ralph Klein named Boutilier to his cabinet as the Minister of Municipal Affairs. In this capacity, Boutilier sponsored the Municipal Government Amendment Act in 2003. The Act allowed municipalities to charge developers off-site road levies, a practice which had been common but which had recently been successfully challenged in court, and passed largely without controversy. Boutilier kept the municipal affairs until after the 2004 election (in which he was again re-elected handily, this time in the newly-formed Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo riding), when Klein transferred him to the post of Minister of the Environment. He held this post in 2005, when a Canadian National Railway train derailed, spilling oil into Wabamun Lake. At the time, Boutilier described himself as “damn well pissed off” about the spill and about the allegation that CN had neglected to report that the spill contained carcinogenic chemical, and pledged “to bring to the full extent of the law anyone who has breached Alberta law.” CN was eventually charged under federal statutes. He was also at the forefront of his government’s opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, at one point slipping his Québec counterpart Thomas Mulcair a note during a United Nations conference on the subject in Montréal, which Mulcair interpreted as a request that Québec soften its support of Kyoto in exchange for investment in the Montreal Stock Exchange by Alberta industry. Boutilier characterized the note as “discussions in terms of what we would want to be able to do in a positive environmental initiative” and denied that he was trying to influence Quebec’s position.
In the 2006 Progressive Conservative leadership contest, Boutilier initially backed Lyle Oberg, and switched his support to eventual winner Ed Stelmach after Oberg was eliminated on the first ballot. When Stelmach succeeded Klein as premier, he named a smaller cabinet than Klein’s. This included a merger of the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio with Intergovernmental and International Relations, and Stelmach gave the expanded portfolio to Boutilier. Boutilier was re-elected by another expanded margin in the 2008 election, but was not named to Stelmach’s new cabinet, making him the only returning member of the pre-election cabinet not to receive a portfolio. His demotion was met with protest in his home riding, which contains much of the oilsands activity driving Alberta’s economy at the time, and the local Progressive Conservative riding association sent a letter of protest to Stelmach.
In July 2009, Stelmach ejected Boutilier from the Progressive Conservative caucus for publicly criticizing the government. Boutilier was upset with delays in the construction of a long-term care facility in his riding, and said that without the facility seniors were being kept in “holding cells” in the local hospital. Stelmach’s spokesman said that his ejection was due to his seeking “preferential treatment” for his riding; Boutilier denied that he had done so.