Alberta is entering the second week of town hall meetings and robust rural demonstrations against Bill 6. Across the province, from Red Deer to Grande Prairie and south to Okotoks and Medicine Hat, the farmers and ranchers of Alberta and their supporters are trying desperately to make their voices heard. As it progresses, however, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the Minister of Labour, Lori Sigurdson, the Premier, Rachel Notley, and the Agriculture Minister, Oneil Carlier, are completely uninterested in what people have to say.
Two of the three have made multiple appearances at rallies across the province, but Rachel Notley is still in Paris discussing the infinitesimally small effect Alberta will have on Global Warming by eliminating coal power (and displacing hundreds of jobs in Stettler, Alberta alone). Carlier and Sigurdson claim they are listening to the people, they claim that they will be introducing amendments to Bill 6. As yet, we don’t know exactly what those amendments will be, how they will affect us, or when they will come into place! It has become increasing obvious that the NDP government is hellbent on passing this legislation whether the people like it or not, which, for a party called the New Democrats, is extremely undemocratic. Alberta has not seen this level of political upheaval in decades, and especially not from the rural areas of the province. Buses are being organized to ship protesters to the Alberta Legislature, convoys ten kilometers long by some estimates are arriving at town hall meetings, and facebook groups and twitter feeds are alive and buzzing with the indignation of the entirety of the rural population!
If we were going to do this democratically, the NDP would scrap or table the bill, as recently suggested in debate by the Alberta Party leader. If we were going to do this democratically, we would have already consulted with the people it would affect, understood and listened to their concerns, and placed the appropriate exemptions into the bill BEFORE it was ever tabled for discussion. Evidently, the NDP forgot to add the S in their acronym for the Non-Democratic Socialist Party.
The NDP, or NDSP, if you prefer, has claimed miscommunication, shown inept leadership, created a culture of passing blame to the party lackeys sent to the initial town halls in place of MLA’s, and has repeatedly shown they don’t give two potatoes for the opinion of an entire industry. They started this fight, and the farmers and ranchers of Alberta will not ever forget it. If there’s two things that rural people are good for, its stubbornness and remembering things. The NDP has poked a dragon, and the dang thing sure woke up. All I can do from Texas right now is encourage peaceful demonstrations, encourage people to not give up, pray for all involved in the issue, on both sides, and keep writing my MLA, the Ministers, and the Premier. I would ask that you do the same. If we are loud enough, for long enough, we might have a chance of having a say.