MLA Nathan Cooper addresses Acme & District Agricultural Society



Nathan Cooper, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, and the Official Opposition House Leader, and the Shadow Minister of Property Rights was the guest speaker at the Acme & District Agricultural Society Annual General Meeting held at the Acme Community Centre on January 10.
The Ag Society President, Shane Gibson, chaired the Annual General Meeting which looked after the very routine matters of hearing minutes of last year's AGM, receiving Committee Reports, Financial statements and the election of officers. This portion of the proceedings took 15 minutes. President Gibson then introduced Mr. Cooper.
Nathan Cooper gave a quick overview of the role of the Opposition in the Legislature and his function as Opposition House Leader.
He also gave some statistics about the place of Agriculture in the province and in relation to the rest of Canada.
His primary presentation was about Bill 6 and its impact on the Agricultural industry. The major concerns of the farmers, and the Wildrose Party speaking on their behalf, has been the way in which Bill 6 was introduced. Specifically it was the lack of consultation with the farmers, and ranchers themselves. Because of the public rallies and the petition signed by more than 30,000 Albertans, the largest ever tabled in the Assembly, some modifications have been made.
Mr. Cooper said that it is not the goal of the opposition to oppose everything the government brings forward but to have alternative solutions to present to them. Mr. Cooper has, on several occasions, voted with the government because they have presented good ideas. For Bill 6 he has presented at least three amendments that would provide choices. So while the legislation did pass, because of the input of the people the legislation is better than what was first proposed.
The difficulty in discussing what may yet come, is that no one can speak about details because they haven't been tabled. The concern is that Cabinet can pass legislation without bringing it back for discussion. The government is committed to more consultation over the next 18 months.
The legislation is now split into four areas, and will be broken up into six tables with a chair appointed to each and members of the public to be consulted. These six tables and the information about the Consultation Process is available on the government web site at
A difficulty with these tables is that they do NOT come under the Minister of Agriculture but from the Labour Department. The bill was written by Labour Standards and Job Skill Management personnel.
Mr. Cooper then spoke about the upcoming session at the end of February, where the main topic will be the Carbon Tax. Here he spoke particularly about the taxation being a "revenue-neutral" concept but pointed out how it differs from the usual idea of what that means. Instead of raising taxes in one sector and reducing taxes in other areas this "revenue neutral" means taking the income from the taxes and spending it somehow that will supposedly bring in a balancing amount.
Nathan did emphasize that the NDP is NOT responsible for the drop in oil prices worldwide. The concern of the opposition is the number of actions the NDP is putting forth all at once and trying to do it so quickly. The need is to slow down the move, especially when so many have so much at risk.
Mr. Cooper expressed himself in these words: "No one is going to be upset with the NDP if they delay some of their proposed changes".
"We have seen that the NDP is taking a softer approach and slowing down."
One question was what might be expected in the next budget. "It is expected that we will continue to see an aggressive spending plan". There is some value to that during a downturn. But do they have a plan for paying back what they have been borrowing?
The government must look at the spending side of the ledger, and some programs must be delayed. The other "unknown" has to do with how "Rural Regions" and "linear taxation" and distribution works out.
Mr. Cooper was able to stay on after the meeting to interact with the audience.