Taft visits Ponoka

Ponoka and Lacombe are top priorities for the Alberta Liberals according to the leader of the party Kevin Taft.

  • Feb. 13, 2008 6:00 p.m.
The leader of the Alberta Liberal Party was in Ponoka on Feb. 7 with local candidates. Tom Dooley from the Drumheller-Stettler riding

The leader of the Alberta Liberal Party was in Ponoka on Feb. 7 with local candidates. Tom Dooley from the Drumheller-Stettler riding

Ponoka and Lacombe are top priorities for the Alberta Liberals according to the leader of the party Kevin Taft.

Taft took to the ring to ‘auction’ himself to a small crowd of approximately 25 people at Vold, Jones and Vold Auction Market on Feb. 7. Taft was there to introduce the Alberta Liberals’ rural agenda.

He thought that Ponoka represented rural Alberta and that is why they were making their announcement at VJV.

“Ponoka is a huge symbol of small town rural Alberta. I’m a regular at the Ponoka Stampede, I have family here, you have a big auction mart at Vold, Jones and Vold and they are a big player here. There’s a great rodeo history,” said Taft.

He also plans to get everyone involved with the government process and work with cattle producers.

“The Alberta Liberals believe that the best solutions for sustaining rural communities will come from local producers, and that the government’s role is to energetically support their efforts,” said Taft. “Our policy will ensure that any changes to farm income supports will be done through consultations with farmers to ensure the sustainability of family farms in this province. We’ll also collaborate with cattle producers to build a sustainable base for the beef industry.”

Lacombe-Ponoka candidate Edith McPhedran was very excited with Taft’s announcements and affirmed that the government is not the expert on issues like cattle production, it is the producer.

“First and foremost before we go throwing dollars at it, like has been done in the past, the problem with that formula is it wasn’t well thought out. The dollars where they needed to go into the producers hand actually ended up in the multi national company’s hands,” she said on the beef industry. “There has to be a consultation process with the producers to come up with a fair, equitable, and efficient plan for any support there.”

He announced that they will protect Alberta’s water by phasing out the pumping of fresh water down oil wells. They will conduct an independent study into any cumulative impacts of coal bed methane development on water quality and will restrict inter-basin water transfers.

His rural agenda will also include holding its agencies accountable to public scrutiny and emphasized that spying on Albertans is not public consultation. They will review the Surface Rights Act and Expropriation Act to make sure a fair balance is struck between industry and landowners with petroleum wells and pipelines on their property.

The Alberta Liberals will also declare a moratorium on school closures until community school initiatives are implemented. The moratorium would start immediately and would be indefinite.

“Our belief is that schools play such an important role in our communities and they need to be understood as more than just a place where children go a few hours a day to learn,” said Taft. “They should be resources for the entire community and they can become centres for delivering a range of public services. I would look forward to the day when school closures are entirely a thing of the past.”

Ponoka resident Fred Herbert who has had some involvement with the Alberta Liberal Party executive in Lacombe-Ponoka was at VJV for Taft’s announcement. He thought that Taft said a lot of things that rural people like to hear and Herbert liked the water quality issues and consolation with agriculture producers before government intervention. However, he was not sure that the moratorium on school closures was possible.

“I am not sure that can be universally applied, I hesitate to critique the leader’s policy platform but some things you can announce. It’s much harder to carry them out because the school board have ultimate jurisdiction over whether schools remain open or closed and I don’t think any government will force the school boards into keeping schools open that are financially unviable,” said Herbert.

Town of Ponoka councilor John Jacobs was in attendance for the event and brought his daughter Emily with him. He would of brought his son as well but he was in school.

“I like my children to learn as much as they can about politics,” said Jacobs. “I want to hear what everybody has to say, I want to meet all the candidates.”