Fallout of personal attacks

Written by Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park. First published in Sherwood Park News on July 28, 2016.

The choice to seek political office is not an easy decision. Often, one’s personal background can lead to hateful and uninformed comments, especially from people who are upset at decisions taken. I want to thank former MLA Dave Quest for standing up for what is right and supporting my colleague MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas in the face of very hurtful comments by a blogger. Mr. Quest rightfully separated his politics from his values. Discrimination is never acceptable; as a society, we cannot tolerate attacks on people for their sexual or ethnic identities.

On July 1, the Strathcona County Diversity Committee and AltView teamed up to march in the Canada Day Parade to demonstrate proudly how diverse our community has become. The Diversity Committee would like you to join AltView in ensuring that Strathcona County is a place where anyone can feel at home. Becoming an inclusive community does not just happen; it requires effort by community members, organizations, and different levels of government to make happen. I am proud to belong to a caucus which is diverse and where your place of birth, ethnic background, religion, and sexual identity are not important. We truly are representative of the citizens of Alberta, the people we serve as MLAs. In the Legislative Assembly, we recognize diversity by celebrating important religious holidays, raising the LGBTQ flag, speaking French, making events accessible, and by taking seriously the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We can do the same in our local community, and I invite anyone interested in being part of creating a welcoming and inclusive committee to contact the Strathcona County Diversity Committee at Strathcona.diversity@gmail.com, or follow them on Twitter (@StrathcoDiv) or Facebook.

Climate change, economy, and agriculture

Last week, I attended the PWNER conference in Calgary. This organization is made up of western provinces and territories, and western American states; it gathers elected officials and government staff. I had the opportunity to meet many delegates from other provinces and states and they were especially interested in the government Climate Change Initiative and economic diversity policies. Some of the delegates chose to travel to the Northwest Refinery near Redwater (part of the Industrial Heartland), and I was able to tell them about the collaboration between our municipal governments and industry that is key to employment in our community and to economic success for the province.

One of the pleasures of being an MLA is the opportunity to learn more about the richness and economic diversity of our province. Last week, with the Minister of Environment and Parks and some of my colleagues, I spent a day learning about the importance of irrigation to the agricultural sector in Southern Alberta. I toured irrigation projects and discovered how irrigation has allowed farmers in the Lethbridge-Taber region to diversify their crops. We visited a producer who grows and processes most of the onions we buy here in Sherwood Park; a feed lot; and a potato factory, making French fries for many of our local fast food restaurants. I discovered the technology of pivots, how a farmer can now regulate how much water is delivered through each sprinkler, and I ate peas fresh picked out of a field. The impact of climate change on agriculture was the primary subject of conversation throughout the day. The farmers we met are already using technology to reduce their water and energy inputs, and one farmer produces electricity using wasted organic materials.

This weekend, many will be headed to Hawrelak Park for Heritage Days. I wish you a warm, dry long weekend with family and friends enjoying the richness of cultural diversity in the Capital Region.