EDMONTON — Alberta’s new agriculture minister is no stranger to agriculture.
Oneil Carlier grew up on the family farm at Val Marie, in southwestern Saskatchewan, where his family continues to farm on a mixed grain and cattle operation.
“It’s a beautiful place to grow up and I still have close ties there,” Carlier said after being sworn in as minister of agriculture and forestry.
“My family still farms, my brother has a mixed grain and cattle, and I go back very often. My parents are still there in Val Marie.”
Carlier was one of 12 cabinet ministers, including premier Rachel Notley, sworn in May 24 on the steps of the Alberta legislature.
Carlier worked for Agriculture Canada for 20 years, starting as a teenager. As a geotechnical technician for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, he worked on large irrigation projects, including some in southern Alberta.
He eventually moved into the laboratory and became involved in labour relations issues with the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Until May 24, he was a regional representative with the union, which represents federal government workers.
“I do come with a background with agriculture and am really looking forward to serving Albertans as ministry of agriculture and forestry,” said Carlier, who lives outside Darwell, a small community west of Edmonton.
Carlier will look after two portfolios in Notley’s 12-member cabinet, which is the smallest in decades.
“With forestry and agriculture, it is a good fit because there are a lot of issues around marketing and getting their product to the markets and making sure that both forestry and agriculture stay prosperous.”
Carlier’s first job is to meet with the deputy ministers and other department staff to get a handle on the issues facing agriculture and forestry.
Carlier said he plans to build his agricultural base and relationship with farmers.
“It’s one I am looking to build with agriculture around the issues that are particular to Alberta, whether it’s southern Alberta with beef farmers and large irrigation to the larger grain farms in central Alberta to forage farmers in northern Alberta,” he said.
“It’s a large portfolio with many different aspects.”
Carlier said he would also reach out to his federal and provincial counterparts.
“We will reach out. It will be a two way street.”