Governing NDP’s Rural Caucus, co-chaired by Doug Hart of Ponoka, has adopted several resolutions over the weekend to beoffered to the party’s convention in June as a basis to build policies with an emphatic focus to work for a “unified Alberta”.
Responding to questions after the Saturday, March 19 caucus meeting in Redwater, north of Edmonton, Hart said as one ofthe seven caucuses of the party, the rural caucus focused on everything from enhancing use of digital technology in ruralareas to homelessness in small rural communities and affordable housing to school bus arrangements for students.
Commenting on the discussions during the caucus, Hart said nine MLAs were present at the event and that they had fielded avariety of questions from some 75 members of the caucus members present at the gathering.
He said the caucus had noted the difficulty of carrying the resolutions and policy proposals of the party’s various organs andcaucuses to the point of legislation.
The former candidate who ran in both provincial and federal elections for NDP also said he had made a presentation at themeeting focusing in particular on the need to diversify the province’s economy.
“Alberta’s economy exported $121 billion worth of goods in 2014,” Hart said. “Of these exports, 76 per cent was oil and gas,only six per cent was oil industry related manufactured goods like rigs and drilling equipment, and less than five per cent wasagricultural products like grain, cereals or beef and less than five per cent was forestry products.”
He added that it meant the two principle economic sectors after energy resources, agriculture and forestry, were beingignored in the development of the provincial economy.
Stressing that NDP doesn’t want to have the urban-rural divide that has shaped provincial politics in Saskatchewan, Hart saidthey were aiming at an economy that focuses on developing both agriculture and energy resources in an environmentallyresponsible way.