You’d have to have been on the moon recently rather than in Alberta not to have experienced the backlash to the NDP government’s handling of the controversial Bill 6, also known as the The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. In essence, the act requires WCB coverage for paid farm workers and grants a special ability that no doubt every reader perusing this would love to have at the work site: “workers will be able to refuse unsafe work that presents an imminent danger.”
According to Alberta Agriculture’s website, Bill 6 won’t apply to family, volunteers, kids doing chores or 4-H members.
One of the factors leading up to the ramming through of Bill 6 was the fact organized labour was apparently invited to give their two cents on the legislation, while farm families were not. Premier Rachel Notley’s government invoked closure on the Bill 6 debate, despite the fact that when she was an opposition politician, she critisized the PC government for doing the same.
A laughable reason, in fact the first reason voiced by the NDP government for introducing Bill 6, is that “The Government created the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act to bring the protection and compensation of non-family farm and ranch employees in line with what’s already extended to other employees and similar to what’s in place in other provinces.” So they want to make Alberta look more like other provinces in Canada. Okay, let’s take a look at one of the provinces they seem to admire.
The Charbonneau Commission, also known colloquially as the Quebec corruption inquiry, has been an ongoing investigation into general corruption in the Quebec provincial government and specific corruption in how construction tenders are awarded. More simply, the inquiry has been tasked since 2011 with looking into crooked and corrupt business practices within the provincial government involving construction projects. Some of the investigations focused on successful bids being linked to cash donations to politicians. Oh yeah, by the way, they’re also investigating the influence of Mafia on the Quebec government and its contracts. Not really a surprise, as Canadian historians are fully aware of the traditional presence organized crime has had in Quebec, ranging from La Cosa Nostra south of the border to violent outlaw bike gangs.
Definitely looks like a role model of a province the rest of the country should be looking up to.
Anyhoo, the backlash across Alberta of forcing this legislation on farm families without allowing them some meaningful input was substantial. It’s been some time in this province since thousands of people showed up to various government offices to protest; in fact, nothing really comes to mind. The NDP government must have been thinking the same way because after they passed Bill 6 into law, Notley announced there would be some kind of consultation process on Bill 6. Despite the fact it was already law.
It’s interesting to see displayed on the provincial government website a little link right on the homepage that reads “How Government Works.” Apparently, in the world of the NDP majority, the government develops laws that affects families and an industry that’s existed in this province for 100 years, forcing substantial changes on the industry without consulting those affected.
Then, after the premier and her majority force the bill through the legislature, they insult anyone with a brain by offering to collect input from those affected. Seeing as how the bill is already law, the consultation would appear to be nothing more than spin doctoring to address the public relations nightmare the NDP faced over Bill 6. However, judging by the thousands of people protesting the bill and the upcoming protest at the legislature March 8, it looks like the PR campaign failed.
Maybe the “How Government Works” link should include this useful advice for the premier and her government: don’t worry about what’s going on in Quebec. Worry about what’s going on in Alberta. Collect input from Alberta taxpayers first, then develop your law and present it at the legislature.
Everyone in government should remember it’s the Alberta taxpayer, including the farmer and rancher, who sends MLAs to the legislature in the first place.