Wildrose putting politics before Albertans

By Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer-South. First published in the Olds Albertan, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

It’s abundantly clear that the official opposition is putting politics before the interests of Albertans. 

In the Olds Albertan article “Olds college brewery covered under beer grant” published on Aug. 9, Wildrose MLA Nathan Cooper blatantly argues that the focus should not be supporting Alberta brewers overcome challenges when trying to enter other markets. Instead, Cooper says the focus should be on “reducing trade barriers”.

Over the last three years, the number of breweries in Alberta has grown from eight to 40 and a province of our size can support many more. That is why last week our government showed its support for Alberta‘s beer industry by announcing a grant program that will support breweries to grow.

The Wildrose is claiming that our government‘s plan to support jobs and economic diversification in Alberta‘s craft brewing is “protectionist and contrary to the spirit” of the New West Partnership, a trade agreement between British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Let’s be clear. Alberta‘s NDP government is proud of our local brewing industry and will make no apologies for supporting Alberta jobs and businesses.

If the Wildrose and PC oppositions are choosing to ignore what brewers in our province are saying and bat for breweries in other provinces that is their prerogative.

Beer jobs are good jobs and our government has ensured an excellent climate for growth in the industry. Here’s what the grant will do: give Alberta‘s small brewers the flexibility to invest in their business, enable them to increase production, launch new products, develop new markets and make important capital improvements.

The previous governments chose not to support this budding industry. That is why Albertans voted for change. Our NDP government knows these breweries are creating local jobs, using local agricultural product and creating amazing final products.

Our government also recognizes that our brewers have the capacity to not only play on an even field with the beer markup but to also accelerate their growth with support from the grant program.

Out of this grant program, Alberta consumers will experience even more selection of great Alberta brews and the best selection in the country of other beers from around the world.

This policy is a true win-win-win. It is great for brewers, great for workers and great for Alberta‘s beer drinkers.

It is time for Wildrose to put cheap politics aside and stand with us to support jobs and economic diversification.