The following remarks on Farm Workers Day were made by Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan at the book launch for Farm Workers in Western Canada: Injustices and Activism:
It is an absolute pleasure to be in this room with you today. I'd like to acknowledge we're on Treaty 7 territory, home to the Blackfoot, Stoney, Cree, Sarcee and more recently the Métis, here in southern Alberta.
I don't think you'd find a politician in Alberta who wouldn't extol the importance of our farms. From agriculture's status as our second largest contributor to GDP to the values of the family farm, politicians always praise Alberta agriculture, and rightly so.
Yet, the people who drive our agriculture industry, the farm workers themselves, were ignored by successive governments. For all their praise for Alberta agriculture as both an economic engine and source of provincial values and identity, they were content for farm workers to have grossly substandard rights and safety standards.
Less than two years ago farm workers had rights and protections more fitting the 19th century than the 21st. Thanks to people in this room, Alberta has jumped forward decades from where it was.
I'm honoured to be in the presence of people like Darlene Dunlop, Eric Musekamp, my esteemed colleague Dr. David Swann, and others, who have all contributed immeasurably to our recent steps forward on farmworkers’ rights.
Thank you to the University of Calgary Faculty of Law for hosting us here today.
If you ever hear anyone doubt the power of activism or question the power of making your voice heard, you can point to this victory and say, "Standing up for what's right can make a difference. You can change the world for the better."
I'm proud to lead a party that led on this issue. I made it clear during my run in the Alberta Liberal Leadership Race that I support the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. In fact, I visited with Darlene and Eric at the Farmworkers Union office in Bow Island on my campaign tour! I will state plainly now if those who do not support this legislation seek to repeal it (as Brian Jean & Jason Kenney have pledged to do), or water it down, I will stand with you as David Swann has.
The Alberta Liberals will always stand up for the rights of farmworkers, and all workers across this province.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here to you today and congratulations to everyone who has worked on this book, who has done the hard job of telling this important part of our history. Thank you."
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