Jobs and the rural economy are probably the priority of the new Minister of Agriculture

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Making rural Alberta an even bigger economic engine is a top priority for the province’s new Minister of Agriculture.

Drumheller-Stettler MP Nate Horner was suddenly promoted on November 5 after his predecessor, Devin Dreeshen, resigned amid allegations of heavy drinking.

The changing of the guard was so sudden that Horner didn’t even get the usual press conference after he was sworn in. But in a brief email statement, he said his first order of business would be to continue a virtual engagement tour he launched last month while serving as associate minister in charge of rural economic development.

“These virtual sessions are opportunities to listen to rural communities and business leaders to gather information on ways to promote economic development in rural Alberta by further understanding the opportunities to support investment and growth, ”he said.

“The discussions and feedback gathered will ensure our rural communities are participating in and benefiting from the Alberta recovery plan.”

And farmers are at the heart of this plan, he added.

Nate Horner.


“As Alberta’s second-largest resource sector, we cannot talk about rural economic development, let alone economic recovery, without a plan to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in the province,” Horner said. “I will continue to be a strong advocate for the growth of Alberta’s future through our world-class agriculture and agri-food processes and products.

Horner has been a relatively low-key MP since being elected in 2019. He only joined Twitter in July and mainly retweeted the UCP government’s announcements of initiatives to create jobs and boost the economy.

“I hope to be a strong voice for all agriculture, petroleum and rural matters,” he said on the United Conservative Party’s website. “My goal is to help Premier Kenney make Alberta the most competitive jurisdiction in North America, reduce the size of government, significantly reduce our regulatory burden, and defend our interests and those of our industries. .

Horner was named after Dreeshen resigned amid accusations he drank often, sometimes heavily, in his legislature office. The original allegations were part of a $ 400,000 lawsuit filed against the Premier’s Office of Alberta by a former government chief of staff last month.

“I accept that my personal drinking behavior has become a problem for the government as a whole,” Dreeshen said on Twitter. “I deeply regret that this is the case, but I have decided that it is better for myself and the province to step down from my post and focus on both my personal health and well-being. “

Deep ranch and political roots

Although a rookie MP, Horner is no stranger to Alberta politics. His grandfather Jack was a well-known and long-time MP, and he is related to both Hugh Horner and Doug Horner, both former ministers of agriculture.

He received a degree in agricultural commerce from Olds College and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Lethbridge and then bought his grandfather’s ranch. His UCP biography also indicates that he ran an oilfield ambulance company and a small aggregate haulage company. The fifth generation producer is also a former Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle horse champion. He and his wife Jennifer have three children.

While many UCP ministers and MPs take a strongly partisan stance, Horner has largely focused on economic issues, especially jobs and investments, in his social media posts. He was also there in late July when the Prime Minister and his predecessor visited the drought-stricken region around Bassano, a week before Prime Minister Jason Kenney announced what would become a $ 340 million aid package. dollars for the livestock sector.

“We are committed to providing farmers and ranchers with the support they need to get through these difficult times,” Horner tweeted at the time.

In one of his first tweets, he also spoke strongly in favor of COVID vaccines.

“The vaccines are working,” he tweeted in July. “The number of cases across the province will continue to fluctuate but, thanks to the vaccine, the serious consequences have dropped. “

But Horner also opposed the reimposition of the Level 1 restrictions in the spring. In a video on Facebook, he highlighted the low number of cases at the time in his constituency and said he supported “a regional approach that truly reflects the reality facing all corners of the province.”

In launching the Alberta Rural Engagement Survey, he said the goal was to get “good, sensible ideas from the boots on the ground”.

And rural Albertans will be at the heart of an economic stimulus package, he then tweeted.

“We want to have a full, open and honest conversation with rural Albertans because they know what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

Horner’s low-key style may have been a factor in his promotion after the spotlight on Dreeshen’s behavior got intense.

Although the lawsuit of Ariella Kimmel (former chief of staff to the Minister of Employment, Economy and Innovation) has been filed against the Prime Minister’s office (alleging that he did not follow up complaints about sexual harassment and a toxic workplace), the statement alleges inappropriate conduct by Dreeshen. He details one particular night in the fall of 2020. Kimmel alleges that Dreeshen indulged in “binge drinking” that night to the point that she stepped in and asked him to stop. Later that evening, according to the document, he confronted her and “yelled at her aggressively to the point that she was in tears and a worried passer-by intervened.”

The two had been in an intermittent relationship, according to Kimmel.

Dreeshen initially denied having a drinking problem. But on the morning he resigned, a CBC report quoted several anonymous UCP government members as saying he was known to drink frequently in his office in the legislature, and described numerous events in 2019 and 2020.

– With files from Alexis Kienlen

About Keneth T. Graves

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