Albertans head to the polls on April 16
By Diego Flammini
Albertans will choose which party forms the next provincial government in just six days.
Since premier Rachel Notley dropped the writ on March 19, Alberta’s four main political parties have been on the campaign trail hoping to collect enough support to lead the province for the next four years.
To help our readers prepare for the election, Farms.com is profiling the NDP, the United Conservative Party (UCP), the Alberta Party and the Alberta Liberal Party. We highlight what each party has in store for the ag sector and rural Alberta.
Rachel Notley’s NDP government is promoting the work it has done over the past four years, including expanded efficiency programs, ag product promotion and introducing the Local Food Act to raise the profile of the local food industry.
The NDP promises to continue supporting the ag industry by creating a new system for recycling ag plastics. The party will also direct the Agriculture Finance Services Corporation (AFSC) to extend financing for non-traditional crops and livestock.
The party pledges to develop a strategy to help with succession planning and encourage young farmers to enter the industry. The NDP will continue to fund local 4-H groups and related societies.
For rural Alberta as a whole, the NDP is highlighting the work it has done to improve rural communities.
The party has invested $10 million to hire more police officers and legal staff to reduce rural crime. That investment has led to an “11 per cent decrease in rural property crime,” the party’s platform says.
Over its four-year tenure, Alberta’s NDP government allowed Red Deer College and Grande Prairie College to issue degrees, allowing rural students remain close to home while getting a degree.
If re-elected, the NDP would expand access for reproductive health services for women living in rural Alberta. The party would implement a 10-year strategy to ensure high-speed Internet access across the province. The NDP would create Hometown Alberta to help rural communities renovate public facilities and provide more funding for rural community safety.
Left to right: Rachel Notley, Jason Kenney, Stephen Mandel and David Khan.
United Conservative Party
Jason Kenney’s UCPs are promoting a platform of cost savings and job creation.
If elected, the party promises to implement the Carbon Tax Repeal Act, which would put 6,000 more people to work, the party’s platform says.
The UCPs plan to repeal and replace Notley’s Bill 6 with the Farm Freedom and Safety Act.
“We will listen to farmers, ranchers and agriculture workers that the NDP ignored to let our farmers grow again,” the platform says.
In addition, the party promises to cut red tape, help the ag industry set research priorities, review risk management programs and help replace farmland lost to urban expansion.
A UCP government also has plans to help rural Alberta more generally.
The party would replace rural road trucking permits with an annual provincial permit. The UCP would create a rural entrepreneur program designed to help businesses start up in rural Alberta. The party would create a rural immigration program that would prioritize immigration applications from people committed to living in smaller communities.
Kenney’s party also promises to ensure rural schools have adequate resources and invest in rural crime prevention strategies.
Stephen Mandel’s Alberta Party has plans for significant investments in the provincial ag sector.
An Alberta Party government would establish the Alberta Agriculture Innovation Fund, which would provide up to $100 million annually for ag innovation projects.
The party would also provide $2 million in support of an agri-tourism development fund and allocate another $2 million to create an office of certification to help farmers obtain value-added certifications.
The Alberta Party’s plans also include biofuel production.
If elected, the government would “ensure a portion of the renewable energy auctions are allocated to biofuel-based projects,” the party’s platform says. Doing so would help diversify the energy market and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the platform adds.
The Alberta Party promises to appoint a Bee Protection Task Force to support healthy bee populations, review the AFSC to provide better services for farmers, make amendments to Bill 6, and consult with farmers and First Nations communities during sales of Crown land.
The Alberta Party also has plans for rural Alberta more generally.
The party pledges to bring “reliable and affordable gigabit level broadband services” to every Alberta community within three years. The Alberta Party would also help rural organizations apply for similar funding as that which urban organizations quality for.
Alberta Liberal Party
David Khan’s Liberal Party promises to protect water supply, promote soil health, increase market access for the industry and address labour shortages, the party’s platform says.
The party would also implement actions to control and eliminate the potential risk of chronic wasting disease. It is found in deer, elk and moose.
The Liberals are also committed to bringing more services to smaller communities.
A Liberal government would bring abortion facilities to rural communities, find a transportation alternative to Greyhound, introduce a mental health response line that understands the challenges of farm and rural life, and bring reliable Internet to rural communities.