Mr. Speaker, a strong and vibrant rural Alberta is vital to the success of our province. In 2009 the Conference Board of Canada estimated rural Alberta’s contribution to Canada’s economic activity at $77 billion. Our farmers produce wholesome, premium-quality foods that are highly sought after around the world. Alberta is a leader in the development of innovative and sustainable agricultural practices.
That’s why it’s hard to understand why this government has apparently ignored agriculture and, in a broader sense, rural Alberta. There’s not one word in the throne speech about agriculture, our largest renewable resource. Rural communities finally get mentioned on the very last page of the throne speech and then only to be told that they need to keep contributing to the prosperity of Alberta. Rural Alberta is little more than a cash cow for this government, and based on Bill 3, we’re going to need some more cows. They want to milk those cows, but they could care less about the condition of the barn or her pasture.
Mr. Speaker, rural Albertans know all about contributing to the prosperity of Alberta. There are no farms or ranches, there are no forests, coal mines, or oil wells in our cities. The people who grow our food, log our forests, and extract our mineral wealth don’t ask for much, but they expect to be treated with dignity and respect and not to be forgotten or ignored by their government. That’s exactly the message they’ve received in this throne speech.
People tell me, “Well, all their MLAs are from the cities,” but that’s not accurate. There are 11 government members, fully 20 per cent of their caucus, that represent constituencies that are at least partly rural. I expect that even they are frustrated by their government’s lack of commitment or attention to rural Alberta.
Mr. Speaker, a strong Alberta depends on strength in all regions, urban and rural, from the largest cities to the tiniest villages to the hundreds of thousands of Albertans that live on the land and provide the food that nourishes and sustains us. It’s high time for this government to acknowledge this and show rural Albertans some respect.
On June 24, 2015, Richard Starke recalled the strength that rural Alberta adds to our province.
PC Caucus in the Legislature
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