I would like to start by thanking everyone for the outpouring of support I’ve received from my family, friends, community members, as well as businesses in the agriculture and forestry sector. It has been truly humbling, and your support means more than you will ever know.
It was an honour to serve as Alberta’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister for two and a half years. I always tried to find a balance of working hard as an advocate for our second and third largest resource sectors, and as the local MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
We achieved a lot for both the industries I represented, and for Central Alberta:
l A $120 million improvement of Highway 11, with the redesign of three intersections south of Sylvan Lake and fixing the frost heaves between Sylvan Lake and Red Deer.
l Greenlit the long-delayed expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital, including a new cardiac catheterization lab.
l Following months of consultation, we repealed the NDP’s disastrous farm legislation, Bill 6 and replaced it with a common-sense law that recognizes how farms and ranches operate on the ground.
l Doubled the number of Alberta international trade offices, expanding in key regions around the world to help connect Alberta businesses with new export opportunities.
l Helped attract nearly $900 million in new value-added processing agriculture investments: including the new $100 million Bowden plant protein facility.
l Brought in nearly $500 million in new forestry mills and upgrade investments through a stable and predictable fibre supply system.
l Adopted new wildfire technology that resulted in two of the best years in forest fires in Alberta while neighbouring provinces and states had record fires.
l A nearly billion-dollar irrigation deal with the Canada Infrastructure Bank and irrigation districts, giving Alberta its first major irrigation expansion in decades and over 200,000 acres of new irrigated farmland.
l Reduced crop insurance premiums by 20 per cent allowing more than 1,800 farmers and ranchers increase their insurance coverage. A record $2 billion is expected to payout due to this year’s severe drought and increased insurance participation.
l Negotiated a $340 million drought disaster relief program for Alberta ranchers to help them maintain their herds and support them when other programs fell short.
l Created a new Made-in-Alberta branding program that will be used to promote quality Alberta products to buyers in our province and around the world.
l Supported Agricultural Societies by cutting red tape and providing support to help with devastating COVID restrictions on local community centres.
There is much more that I want to accomplish for our region and province. I will continue to serve and work hard for the 50,000 constituents in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
I have spent weeks at a time travelling across our beautiful province and have been honoured to meet amazing Alberta businesses and families. Learning from them and advocating for them is one of the best aspects of being an elected official.
However, there are weeks when MLAs spend 16-18 hour days in the Legislature Building in Edmonton. Spending time away from family, friends, and my community takes a toll – especially during COVID.
With my resignation as minister, I am looking forward to having more time to represent my local constituency, and the increased freedom I’ll have to speak out for them.
Politics can be brutal. People don’t always debate you on policies – some make it personal.
However, politics can be exciting. Advocating for people; a conservative movement; economic growth and reducing the overreach of government is a passion of mine.
I was elected to represent my people. I will continue to do just that.
Devin Dreeshen is the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA. He resigned as the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry last week after concerns were raised over MLA’s conduct and drinking.