I've had a wild ride covering the rallies and town halls against Bill 6.
Bill 6 is the NDP farm unionization law that was rammed through without consultation. And it caused an uproar in rural Alberta that spread to the cities and towns.
It's been an emotional journey for me. I've been overwhelmed with pride, with sadness and even with anger sometimes.
Sometimes I was reduced to tears on the drive home. If you’ve been following along, you know this is personal for me. I come from a long line of farmers.
This journey has taken me across the province and back a few times. But I wouldn’t have missed any of it.
I wanted to share with you, in no particular order, 5 really incredible things I saw along the way.
Number one: The food bank donations. At every rally, and at every town hall, farmers came bearing food. Farmers, even when they were under attack, were giving back. Thousands of pounds of food have been raised by farmers at these rallies. But that's what they do. They feed the world.
Number 2: The solidarity of the Hutterites. If you're from rural Alberta, you know the Hutterites well. They're pacifist and apolitical. They're a religious sect and they live in colonies, really just multiple family farms, across the prairies. There are 20,000 of them on 147 colonies across the province. That’s a lot. And the NDP didn't know what to do with them. So the NDP segregated Hutterites in Bill 6. The Hutterites immediately rejected it. The Hutterites refused to be divided from their friends and neighbours based on religion. And something unheard of happened; Hutterites were suddenly popping up at town halls and rallies, giving speeches about solidarity and fairness in the agricultural community that earned them standing ovations.
Number 3: The spontaneous national anthem that broke out at the legislature. It was after the Dec 3 rally was over. It came up out of nowhere. All the media was gone except me. And I got to see this special unrehearsed bit of pure Alberta pride.
Number 4: The farm widow at a Spruce Grove rally in front of Trevor Horne's office. She tearfully explained how her husband had died and how the neighbours had taken the crop off for her this year. When I was 8 years old, that woman could have been my mother. When my dad died, the neighbours came to help. They didn’t even think about it. They just did it. Her story demonstrates the best of rural Alberta and all that Rachel Notley's bad law seeks to change. It was everything all at once.
Number 5: The NDP career suicides. There was Jessica Littlewood saying she supported Bill 6 despite her constituents’ demands that she represent them and vote against it. There was the NDP staffer throwing herself under the bus in Red Deer and blaming herself for the "miscommunication" of Bill 6. There was Deron Bilous telling farmers that they'd have to pass the bill to see what's in the bill. I had Obamacare flashbacks. (With an honorable mention to the time Bilous said the bill wouldn’t apply to the people farmers pay under the table. That’s illegal. But thanks for the advice, Minister of Economic Development and Trade.)
Bill 6 has brought together rural Alberta in a way I've never seen before. But that’s what rural Alberta has always done in times of struggle. When a neighbour dies, when a flood strikes, when a drought hits they come together.
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