By Anna Smith
Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter, Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner MP Glen Motz, Reeve Stacey Barrows, and Mayor of Foremost Lorne Buis gathered in the Foremost Community Hall on January 18 to allow for residents to voice their concerns and ask questions of all levels of their government, and overwhelmingly, a few things were on their minds.
The issues aren’t consistent from Town Hall to Town Hall, remarked Motz after the fact, with other meetings having healthcare or guns at the forefront, but within Foremost and the surrounding area, the loom of wind turbines was pressing, as was a growing frustration with the disconnect between the Liberal federal government and the province.
Motz added that it’s deeply valuable to him to see what’s important in each community, and that he looks forward to seeing what matters most to each community he visits during these meetings.
Cost of living, said Hunter, is one of the greatest struggles that Alberta faces, and he believes that, at least in part, this is due to a potentially premature push from coal towards natural gas as a source of energy, and then from natural gas to wind and solar before innovation can carry the demand of the grid.
“We’ve got senior citizens that have to make a decision about turning up the heat or paying for food, either is just not acceptable,” said Hunter. Hunter cited Germany as a similar story, with prices of utilities being so high that they nearly “bankrupted the country,” driving businesses away to operate elsewhere.
He also noted that while Canada pushes towards net zero, many of our global competitors are actively creating more infrastructure with the same sources we are trying to move away from, possibly resulting in situations much like the warning for potential rolling blackouts during last week’s cold snap while the planet as a whole is not creating less carbon.
“For every coal-fired plant we shut down here, China opens up six. I thought we were pretty sure to breathe the same air,” said Hunter.
While he and Motz do agree about care of the environment being vital, it was suggested at the Town Hall that this early adoption, alongside policies such as the carbon tax, which cut into the pockets of Canadian workers and business owners, may do more harm than good on an economic scale.
“This is about Alberta being the best place to raise a family. This is the Alberta advantage. And yet because many of these bad policies are coming in our own province, but most of it has come down from the federal government, we’ve lost our competitive advantage,” said Hunter.