If the provincial election were held today, the NDP would likely be wiped out in rural Alberta, which is largely a result of their own doing.
Like the rest of the country, most of Alberta’s population lives in its major cities, but politicians ignore rural areas at their own peril.
Rural municipalities do a lot of important work, like farming, that the cities depend on .
Labour Minister Christina Gray visited Redcliff’s greenhouses on March 27, a month after unexpectedly canceling her scheduled visit.
Scheduling conflicts happen, but the last-minute cancellation gave Redcliff’s agricultural workers the impression that they don’t matter to the government.
The Town of Raymond has had even more difficulty arranging a meeting with the provincial government about its water quality issues.
Although Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips is based in nearby Lethbridge, she won’t agree to a face-to-face meeting with Raymond town council after repeated correspondences.
Again, what are Raymondites supposed to make of this other than the provincial government isn’t taking their issues seriously?
Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter, who represents Raymond in Edmonton, has offered his full support to the town, offering to work with provincial bureaucrats to address the water issues, for which he’ll almost certainly be rewarded at the ballot box.
And these concerns are by no means confined to southern Alberta.
Premier Rachel Notley has yet to visit Whitecourt, a forestry hub 180 km northwest of Edmonton.
Whitecourt’s forestry industry is struggling as a result of uncertainty surrounding the provincial approach to the federally-mandated Caribou Range Plan.
By contrast, UCP leader Jason Kenney has repeatedly visited the town since he began campaigning for conservative unity.
As Jim Rennie, mayor of Woodlands County, the municipality adjacent to Whitecourt, said, “Despite whatever your political stripes are, this premier candidate has been in our community four times in the last three years.
“Premier Notley has been here zero times in the last three years.”
Was Whitecourt-Ste. Anne MLA Oneil Carlier, the agriculture and forestry minister, not able to get the premier to drive less than two hours to hear Whitecourt’s concerns?
If Kenney can make the trip repeatedly from his base in Calgary, certainly the premier is capable of coming up from Edmonton at least once.
If the NDP wants to be more than an “accidental government,” it needs to hold on to its seats beyond Edmonton and pockets of Calgary, which means at the very least doing a better job of communicating with rural Albertans.
Cities are no doubt important, but they’d be a lot less prosperous if it wasn’t for the hard work done in our hamlets, towns and villages.
The provincial government ignores rural Albertan voices at its own peril.