The Alberta government passed its farm-safety bill, but critics have no intention of letting up.
Central Alberta Wildrose MLAs Jason Nixon and Ron Orr were invited to a rally in Ponoka on Saturday night. Next Friday at 11 a.m., Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre will be attending a Bill 6 gathering just east of Sylvan Lake off Hwy 11.
Some political observers have commented they have never seen the electorate so angry at its government.
Angry demonstrations have led to outright threats against Premier Rachel Notley by some critics.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean added his voice on Friday to the many calling for respect and restraint.
Lacombe-Ponoka Wildrose MLA Ron Orr agrees there has been some “petty vitriolic statements out there that shouldn’t have been made.”
There is nothing wrong with peaceful protest — it’s a key part of democracy — but he and his party do not support any inappropriate or threatening comments.
“It shouldn’t be happening,” said Orr, who was a pastor before entering politics.
Now that the bill is passed, the NDP government has promised full consultation with farmers and ranchers while the fine details of regulations are ironed out, a process that could take more than a year.
Orr said on Friday he was planning at the rally to send the message that the legislation is a long way from being finalized and Wildrose will be holding the government’s feet to the fire to ensure the agricultural community’s voice is heard.
“I’ve already had some people come to me who are trying to put together some industry groups and things like that,” he said, adding Wildrose will help any way it can.
Orr offered his thanks to those who expressed their concerns at rallies, emails, phone calls or letters. That input both highlighted the key areas of concern and were successful in convincing the government to amend its legislation.
MacIntyre said he’s heard that finalizing all of the required regulations could take 18 months to two years.
“We are going to hammer (the government) to ensure the farming community are the people who have the input into what those (regulations) look like,” he said.
When first proposed, the NDP heralded their bill as landmark legislation, he said. It was only after farmers, ranchers and Opposition members spoke out that that the government brought in six pages of amendments.
“The pressure has to stay on,” he said.
MacIntyre said has received between 1,000 and 2,000 emails on Bill 6 and numerous phone calls and letters to his office.
His office is struggling to respond to everyone.
“We can’t keep up with it. They’re coming in faster than we can answer them.”
Thousands of emails and letters have gone to other Central Alberta MLAs’ offices as well, he said.
Adding to the anxiety in the agricultural community is the vague answers it has been getting from Workers Compensation Board officials on what is now required for each individual farm or ranch.
“The whole thing was ill-conceived from the get go.”