Science may have a say in the Bill 6 dispute

This week's editorial looks at Bill 6 and its potential benefits.

The way tempers have flared among the farming communities and the refusal of the NDP government to back down on the matter of Bill 6 seem to be pointing to a politically hot winter and even spring in the weeks and months ahead, with a potential to lead to serious instability in the province.

After announcing the amendments to Bill 6, which apparently were thought by the government enough to ease the concerns of the agricultural sector, the NDP majority in the provincial legislature voted to pass Bill 6 into law last week, prompting further fiery protests from both Wildrose Party and farmers. There have been protest rallies in many towns and along the highways with calls for NDP government to step down.

The anger over the passage of Bill 6 into law has gone to such lengths that there have been threats against the lives Premier Rachel Notley and leading NDP politicians, forcing main opposition Wildrose Party’s leader Brian Jean to appeal to his supporters and objectors to the legislation to stop threatening violence. “These kinds of comments cross all bounds of respect and decency and have absolutely no place in our political discourse,” he said in a Facebook message.

It goes without saying that the extreme militancy of the reaction on the part of the hot-headed opposition supporters to the adoption of Bill 6 at the provincial legislature is disturbing to put it mildly. But it also raises some deeper concerns, as well, and those concerns relate to the fundamentals of the democratic governance in the province of Alberta.

Looking at the unfolding situation from a long-term perspective, one can easily note that the source of the conflict is a piece of legislation impacting an area that has never been touched by the 44-year-long Progressive Conservative political dynasty.

Having ruled the province for so long, the PC governments may have perceived the farm safety and farm labor regulation issues as matters that would best be left untouched and as a result farming communities may have developed an understanding that those areas are destined to remain outside the jurisdiction of provincial governments and legislation.

But having won the election on a pro-labour platform, NDP has apparently decided that Alberta should be brought on a par with all the other provinces and territories of the country when it comes to ensuring the safety and rights of farm workers.

At this point, it seems necessary to determine how much of the concerns of the farming communities are justified and how much of them are exaggerated as a result of misperceptions. One document protesting Bill 6 and making its rounds on the Internet asks “how and if the family farm way of life is a viable one for us.”

To say that Bill 6 threatens a whole way of life in this province seems to be a little too alarmist.

For a healthy discussion on the matter, it seems all stakeholders should make an effort to ensure that first and foremost cool heads prevail and provocative language is avoided and for this to happen, politics should be stripped of the debate on the real content.

If the government wants to regulate labour practices in an industry where 112 lives were lost over the last six years, then this regulation is clearly necessary to prevent further loss of life and to ensure that if there is loss of life, regulations are in place to protect those who are left behind.

At this juncture, it might be a good idea to involve academia in the discussion to bring an educated analysis and suggest possible solutions to the conflict. We have ample sources of research, knowledge and expertise in the universities and in a hotly debated, highly political and controversial dispute, science may well be the best guide to show the parties the right path to choose.

 

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday 12, 2020.

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

Lorne Fundytus. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
OUR COMMUNITY: Rimoka Housing Foundation has a new CAO

Rimoka Housing Foundation (RHF) has a new, yet familiar, face to fill… Continue reading

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

(Photo submitted)
RV fire in Riverside, Ponoka quickly extinguished

A fire that set a motor home in Riverside ablaze from an… Continue reading

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read