In front of a crowd of about 600 people in Bassano, the Agriculture and Forestry Minister told the crowd he doesn’t believe this bill has been rushed and there is still plenty of time to consult.
After the town hall session on Saturday, put on by Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt, Oneil Carlier clarified his remarks to reporters.
“I do not feel this is really rushed, this has been worked on since the early 70’s so we could remove this exemption, this exemption has been removed in every other province in the country,” said Carlier. “No province in the country is looking at Alberta as a model for exempting labour legislation for farm workers, so it’s time that Alberta joins the rest of the country.”
Fildebrandt says it’s important to give Carlier credit for accepting the invitation and showing up to the meeting, however the praise stops there, as he says there were a lot of questions that went unanswered.
“The frustration in the room was palatable, people say no, we don’t trust the government to just listen to our concerns after the legislation. That’s not what I was elected to do, Wildrosers were elected to represent our constituents to the government, not the government to the constituents.”
Carlier says farmers can still have their say on this bill.
“Consultation is not finished, it will take place. That was my big message today, we have the skeleton, frame work of the legislation that will be passed and going forward we will work out the very infinite regulations that need to be worked out with this industry. As it is with every other industry there’s going to be different aspects of it there has to be right. whether you are a cow-calf operation, or you are growing cucumbers, or raising bison or elk it is so diverse.”
Tracy Hall, who farms and ranches in the Bassano area, says Bill 6 is disturbing because no one knows the details and the government doesn’t seem prepared.
“Ranchers and farmers are always looking to the end goal,” says Hall. “They set forth with a plan, they budget, they prepare. It’s like saying I start off at point A, I want to get to point E. So in order to get to point E, I need to take B, C and D and get those points taken care of before I reach level E. The Ag Minister and Rachel Notley go from point A to point E without taking the steps B, C and D.“
Wayne Slenders, from Scandia, says this has gone from a bill about farm safety to something that is personal for Premier Notley and this will pass no matter what.
“Now, this is actually the rural people fighting for all Albertans. This is about your right for democracy and about transparency in government because if a government can sit there ‘we’re passing a bill and we’ll put in all the regulations afterwards.’ Intent is a great thing, we all intend to do good things, but things happen and things go wrong and you can’t honour your promises.”
Alex Alves, who runs a small cow-calf operation in the Cluny area, asked the minister in person a question received no information and sent an email to the government seeking answers.
“I got a ‘build a box email’ back from the government, there was no real answers there, they said they would make amendments after it was passed, well, why am I going to give you a blank cheque and say well write it and consult me afterwards, that doesn’t work for me, that’s what they are trying to do.”
Fildebrandt says they will tie this bill up, speak about it in the legislature at every point they can.
“We will let this thing go when they do the right thing and that is to send it to a committee.”
Alves says he has a simple message for the Premier about Bill 6.
“Kill it, listen to your people. You’re not listening, you say you’re listening but you are not. Do the right thing and listen to us. Kill it.”