The year 2017 brought substantial change for former Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman. The provincial representative for Drumheller-Stettler now belongs to a new party, and also has a new leader in the recently elected Jason Kenney.
Speaking with the Independent for a year-end interview, he adds “I thought it was fulfillment that the day after the session ended, that UCP leader Jason Kenney was elected. He won the leadership by 61 per cent and then won his by-election with the support of almost 72 per cent of his constituency, so I’ve been using the personal analogy that Jason’s trek as kind of like a salmon swimming upstream against all odds. He’s arrived now, so we’ll see that in place in the spring session of the legislature.”
Moving ahead, Strankman says there are issues he would like to address in the New Year. He says “My focus has been agriculture, and a greater knowledge of the repercussions of the legislation and regulations going forward in Bill 6 is a popular comment on people’s minds. Bill 6 surrounded the controversial health and safety regulations for farm workers, which the province released their final recommendations on in October. He adds “That’s because they don’t really know what the negativity might be, and the regulations haven’t been entirely formulated in that regard, there’s kinda of an up in the air atmosphere about that.
“The roundtable results are still to be fully completed in my understanding, and as a result of that, the regulations haven’t been fully implemented. They are supposed to bring forward their suggestions I believe in the spring here, so it’s kind of dragging out. The government was in a real rush to get the legislation passed, but all the compensation and working groups have input towards the regulations and haven’t reported yet, therefore the uncertainty of what those reports will be, as the regulation haven’t been made fully public yet.”
Six technical working groups are currently taking online feedback until January 15th. If you would like to provide input on the upcoming Occupational Health and Safety regulations, head over to www.alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch-consultations.aspx
Strankman goes on to say: “Then there’s the infliction of a 50 per cent increase in the carbon tax. There’s going to be a lot of unforeseen or unintended consequences to costs that people are going to find from that, and I’m not even fully aware of how that’s all potentially going to affect our agricultural and commercial operations.”
The carbon levy came into effect at the beginning of 2017 at $20 a tonne, and will increase to $30 a tonne as of January 1st. When applied to gasoline for example, the 4.5 cent per litre tax applied this year will increase by 2.25 cents in 2018. Before the fall session ended, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the government plans will leave the carbon tax at that rate until 2021. It will then move in line with the federal level of $40 a tonne, before reaching $50 a tonne in 2022.
Going forward, the Drumheller-Stettler MLA says people have asked him about UCP policy, which will be written out during the founding convention come the first weekend in May. That will bring more definitive principles and policies that elected members can follow and represent to their constituencies.
In conclusion Strankman notes: “Everyone has their beliefs and their intrinsic ideas of what we represent, but we can’t point back to a policy book and say on the legalization of drugs, or activity and property rights, or climate and environmental policies, on what we might do until it’s democratically voted on by this organization.”
Looking ahead, Strankman thinks it’s going to be very interesting times, and is looking forward to the spring session, as well as visiting with constituents and understanding what they think of it all over the Christmas break.