Wednesday, 02 September 2015 15:25

Alberta agriculture minister’s tour is somewhat symbolic

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Alberta agriculture minister Oneil Carlier was in southern Alberta to tour the area, much of which has been described by local municipal governments as an “agricultural disaster”.
On Aug. 27, he was in southeastern Alberta to tour the region and che

ck out the situation in Cypress County and to meet with local business owners and government administrators.
Looking at the poker faces of some of those he met with at Medalta Potteries, one would wonder how well it went.
In an impromptu scrum with a few local media, Carlier, a native of Val Marie, Sask., explained in generalities that it was good to see and familiarize himself with the area.
While he could be forgiven that he was a little foggy with all the names of the places he had visited after being on the road for a while this summer, Carlier was on a fact-finding mission while having a chance to meet the who’s who of the southeast agricultural community.
No specific details for disaster relief were announced, nor was their any real hint of what he and the government are going to do, maybe to the chagrin of local government officials such as those he met with from Cypress County.
Carlier re-iterated well-known facts (it’s dry, it’s dry everywhere) and said it was good to meet people. Facts were repeated at the mini-question and answer period by the tour’s guide, local Medicine Hat MLA Bob Wanner, who is also the legislature’s speaker.
While it may be frustrating for those locals who want answers now, and can’t make any plans, it’s not overly surprising.
When you have a government which has traditionally being considered left-of-centre and, let’s be honest, unexpectedly got elected to power so it using the previous PC government’s budget until they get their bearings, you know they are scrambling a bit.
If elected officials have done nothing but (deservedly) slam the PCs in the legislature for months, years and then temporarily follow what the previous government has tabled, you know they haven’t got the details all nailed down yet.
Hence when an unexpected drought hits, it’s not all surprising the agriculture minister is talking generalities, offering no solutions and basically giving no hint of what help, if any is coming.
It’s cold comfort to those who will inevitably and deservedly need some help. In his discussion with the small contingent of media, Carlier said the agriculture community can get through this as they are “tough” and “resilient”.
He and Wanner both reminded the media, they came from farm backgrounds and understand the needs and concerns of the farming community during this tough time.
That may be true, but the resilient farming folk will be watching very closely.
As the PCs found out, actions speak louder than words and while some commodity prices are good, others are not.
With the economy the way it is in southern Alberta, the NDP can ill afford to have a major economic sector hurting.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor