Only a handful of supporters braved the chilly weather conditions Tuesday morning to hear UCP leader Jason Kenney’s promises to take care of Alberta’s farm families by such tactics as dumping the carbon tax, repealing Bill 6 and fighting back against attacks on agriculture.
Kenney spoke to a group of supporters at a ranch northwest of Rimbey.
“Farmers and ranchers are going through trying times thanks to the NDP government,” he said, noting that repealing Bill 6 was a key promise to Alberta’s farm families.
“Three years ago, tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and other concerned community members took part in province-wide demonstrations. There rallying call was clear. Kill Bill 6. The NDP ignored them. We will not. A United Conservative government will repeal Bill 6,” he said.
Chad Beagle said his parents, Jack and Holly and his wife, Michelle were among those who petitioned against Bill 6 and he said he was pleased to hear Kenny’s promise that the UCP would get rid of it.
“It’s nice to know that they are looking our for farmers,” he said. “Our family was quite active in leading the petitions.”
Kenney alleged that under the leadership of the NDP Alberta farmers are suffering losses in finances, safety standards and being forced to go through endless red tape to get answers.
As an antidote to these issues, Kenney said the UCP will introduce the Farm Freedom and Safety Act to be passed into law later this year.
The FFSA will exempt small farms from employment legislation, require employers to maintain workplace insurance for farm workers and allow those employers to choose whether to purchase insurance from the market or from the WCB.
The act will give farmers and ranchers priority, recognizing that they require much greater flexibility in meeting employment standards.
During his presentation, Kenney continued to elaborate on party promises focusing mostly on the agricultural sector, while continuing to sprinkle his speech with criticism of the NDP government.
“The NDP’s ideologically driven agenda, including Bill 6, is undermining Alberta’s agriculture an agri-food industry,” he said.
He said between 2015 and 2018, employment in Alberta’s agriculture sector has fallen by 19 per cent and farm receipts for the first nine months of last year were down by nearly six per cent.
While Kenney claimed the NDP has done nothing to keep agriculture in Alberta healthy and strong, he stressed that UCP has proven antidotes for the ills that the he claims the party in power has placed in Alberta.
Also included in the UCP’s action plan if elected are plans to cut taxes on the agricultural sector through job creation tax cut and reduce red tape on agribusiness by one third through the UCP’s Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, he said.
China’s recently restricted Canadian canola exports and Indian tariffs that continue to block Alberta pulse export would not continue with out a fight from the UCP, Kenney added.
The Alberta Agricultural Services Corporation needs to be reviewed and streamlined to meet the needs of the producer, he noted.
Kenney evaded a question about overcrowded classrooms.
“We will release our education platform when an election is called,” he said.
He added that the NDP want to reinvent vocational high schools, noting the importance of trades.