What Alberta Will Learn From Ontario Eventually

ontario dairy farm

By Shaun Haney

One of the things that I enjoy the most about my ability to travel across the country is the knowledge, opinions and perspectives that I get to gather from farmers from many different backgrounds. I hear many things from many people that are very intriguing, stimulating and incredibly thought provoking.

I really look forward to Friday’s because the exhaustion of putting together a week of videos and articles is complete and I get to hear your feedback on what was published. Many of you email me directly to either say, “I agree with you smart guy,” or the ever popular “you are an idiot.” Last week when I wrote the editorial on, “Is Blackjack Safer Than Pesticides?” I received some interesting comments in my inbox.

Several people from Ontario congratulated me for my thoughts and conviction on the moronic decisions of the Provincial government in Ontario to ban lawn pesticides in the shadows of trying to raise revenues by investing in an online gambling site. The interesting thing was the comments from some of my fellow Albertans. Here is just some samples.

“Typical of the left in Ontario”

“This will never happen in Alberta”

“Very glad that I live where I do, in the west where this doesn’t happen”

Not all the emails from Albertans were like this but the above were.  I was actually surprised by the comments above because it solidifies my continued conclusion that Westerners and Ontarians do not understand each other.  I am yet to step on a farm in Ontario and hear a farmer support the urban pesticide ban.  Ontario farmers and Alberta farmers actually have a lot in common.   The reason that bills like 474 get passed in Ontario is because of the strength of the urban influence on votes.  Rural Alberta had better understand how this works and realize that this will become our reality eventually and if not already.

Rural Alberta needs to begin to strategize how it is going to deal with a future that can be controlled by urban Alberta.  I do not think that currently the political gap in Alberta is as strong as Ontario but these things do evolve over generations.   My perception is that because Saskatchewan and Manitoba are so driven economically by agriculture, this is not as much a concern for them.   With the power of the oil industry in Alberta and the and the concentrated populations in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta farmers and ranchers are going to learn the hard lessons that are being experienced in Ontario currently.  Earlier in this decade an Albertan Premier could be elected without getting one rural seat in the legislature.  This is very different than in the 80’s where Peter Lougheed’s political base was in the rural areas.  Lougheed needed only a few urban seats to ensure victory.  Sadly for rural Alberta this is not the political reality.

Now I know that most hard core Westerners are cautious to admit that they learned anything from the supposed center of the universe but this is a great lesson for you all.  The political battle of the rural versus urban interests are about to really begin in Alberta and unfortunately the numbers are not in our favour.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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4 Comments

Mark T

As an Ontario farmer and Ag business employee who frequents western Canada, I can say that the Ottawa vs. Western Canada relationship is no different than the Ottawa (or Toronto) vs. rural Ontario divide. We are living in a world where the rural voice is becoming more diluted as our “farmers” become fewer in body, and city-born farm-owners take their place. I do give credit to our MP’s and MPP’s who do realize that they need the ag sector support in order to have a career.

I just wish our Ontario government was more in tune with Alberta’s taxation policies!

Reply
Rick Czarny

Shaun:

Excellent article. It is amazing how uneducated (I am too polite to use a stronger term) certain urban people are. I say certain because I believe it is a vocal minority that shouts enough to get heard with nothing to back their claims. If you recall a few years ago the City of Lethbridge looked at banning pesticides. Fortunately that did not come to pass. I wrote to City Council about the issue and one of my main points was if the City were to ban pesticide use what would control weed growth in back lanes and out of sight areas? It would create a major fire hazard late summer.

Rick

Reply
Mike

You are on the money :-), I read that 11 % of the vote is “rural” and only 3 % is “farm” in Ab. This should be a wakeup call. Farmers dont drive the PC or C or Alliance or Wild Rose etc. anymore.

Reply
Gord

You are right on the money – it is coming and only a matter of when. Keep up the great work.

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