Being poor and hungry in the Country’s richest province, arguably one of the richest places on the planet, just got a lot worse. Today on Twitter, Danielle Smith, the self-professed Libertarian leader of the right-wing Wildrose Party, is flirting with the idea of feeding “treated-safe” beef product, suspected to be contaminated with E-coli, to our Provinces needy.
(edited: now she suggests that her tweeted intent was that “treated-safe” meat should be sold to everyone. I think that’s both impractical and inconsistent with her wording of the original tweet, but you can draw your own conclusions)
In this we see one of the failings of a Libertarian mindset: if something seems practical, it must be a good idea. Damned-be the perception created that there are different classes of citizens in this great Province.
What Smith is missing; which I think is a massive political misstep, is that the correct response in this situation is not to make lemonade from the rotten lemons… but to make damn sure that every lemon, every time, is 100% safe…and not one Albertan, hungry or otherwise should be expecting a lower standard in food safety.
It’s obvious to me that Smith is swinging at every pitch, trying to make political points for her base, instead of saying there is a standard all politicians must maintain in protecting the interest of 100% of all Albertans.
What Smith and her Wildrose seem to really misunderstand, is the opportunity cost being lost in properly representing our food industry. Agriculture in Alberta is a massive industry / employer and the meat producing and ranching industries, are aligned perfectly with her southern/rural base. The only way the World will look at Alberta as a leader in this industry, is to be looked on as safe and best of breed. It is unacceptable for all involved to be cutting corners, and Smith should be challenging these industries to be the best of the best. We should all be asking about plant size, corporate structures and the risk we accept when we rely on massive producers with so much influence over our food-chain. What leadership really looks like in this case should be more “tough love”.
But that’s not the real opportunity lost here, as bad as that seems. What is reprehensible is that the leader of the official opposition is perpetuating a brand for Alberta where even with all our riches, we’ll accept two standards of food safety; one for the rich and one for the poor. She may not think that is what’s happening here.. but watch over the next few days and weeks, how this country will use Smith’s words against our Alberta story. Her misstep will do harm to our Provincial brand; and since she seems willing to pay that price to further her politics, we should wonder what the Alberta Story would be under her as Premier.