The Wildrose Opposition spent the last three weeks berating the NDP government for not spending millions and millions of dollars fast enough.
The Wildrose says farmers are being “held to ransom” because they’ve had to delay the 2017 planting season waiting around for AgriInsurance adjusters to declare their crops partially or completely destroyed. The Wildrose is also peeved that some farmers received less than 100% reimbursement.
The Wildrose has a solution to this catastrophe: simply instruct the insurer to do a “blanket assessment based on a nominal site visit and pay out what is owned to our hard-working Alberta families.”
This is an amazingly stupid solution.
No one is “owed” insurance payouts
The Wildrose is a proponent of efficient business practices. Its mantra is privatize, privatize, privatize.
Nevertheless, it’s urging the government to turn the insurance business upside down by making payments based on an inspection of a “nominal site” and extrapolating the damage to what…? The remainder of the farmer’s fields, every other farmer in the area, every farmer in the province?
Not only does this violate the legislative framework on which AgriInsurance is based; it may violate the fundamental principles of insurance including the principle of indemnity (an insured cannot be compensated for an amount exceeding his actual loss), the principle of proximate cause (an insured cannot be compensated for a loss caused by, say, poor farming practices, instead of inclement weather), and compromises the duty of utmost good faith (which prevents fraudulent claims and misrepresentation).
The Wildrose solution is predicated on its breathless assertion that Alberta farmers are in crisis.
But they’re not.
5% does not a crisis make
Mr Carlier, the minister of Agriculture and Forestry, responded to the Wildrose hysteria with some facts:
- AgriInsurance has 120 adjusters in the field
- By March 24, they processed 95%, yes 95%, of the eligible unharvested acres benefit claims, only 4 claims remain to be processed
- $32.3 million dollars have been paid out to farmers
- If a farmer is unhappy with the way his claim has been handled he can contact the minister (NOTE: a disgruntled farmer can also appeal the adjuster’s decision to a commission made up of farmers and if he’s not satisfied with the commission’s decision take it to court).
So why is the Wildrose in a flap? Is there something about the Wildrose’s devotion to conservative values that we’re missing?
Principles vs politics
Wildrose MLA Grant Hunter describes conservative values by invoking a definition provided by Ed Feulner, the founder of the Heritage Foundation. Heritage Foundation promotes conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.
Feulner believed every government program ought to have limits for budgetary reasons and because governmental overreach would result in a loss of freedom.
He suggested the true value of conservative ideas lay in how they were applied to the problems of the day.
The Wildrose met this specific problem of the day by ignoring conservative values, creating a false crisis, and demanding the government rip up legislation and twist the principles of free enterprise.
Why? To secure the support of their rural base.
In other words, notwithstanding all their talk about principles, the Wildrose is happy to take a page from the Progressive Conservative playbook in which rule number one is take care of your friends and supporters and they’ll take care of you.
Something worth remembering when 2019 rolls around.
Sources: Alberta Hansard, Apr 4, p 520; Apr 18, 644; Apr 19, p 666 and Apr 20, p 711