Wildrose blames NDP for a sensible labour relations practice implemented in 2013 by Alison Redford’s Tories

Posted on August 05, 2016, 1:59 am
8 mins

PHOTOS: Alberta Premier Alison Redford was welcomed to the annual convention of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees by AUPE President Guy Smith in October 2012. And what does the Wildrose Party make of that? Below: Former Tory Premier Ralph Klein with his pal, former AUPE president Dan MacLennan; Wildrose labour critic Grant Hunter (Airdrie Echo photo); British Columbia Ethics Commissioner Paul Fraser; and Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley.

Will Grant Hunter, the Wildrose Opposition’s labour critic, apologize to Alberta’s New Democrats for his intemperate accusation Wednesday that the Notley Government is in bed with the province’s largest union because of a sensible practice that dates back to when Alison Redford was premier?

EDMONTON, ALBERTA : July 23/02 - AUPE President Dan MacLennan speaks with Premier Ralph Klein during the 5th Annual Premier's Klondike Breakfast on the Provincial Legislature grounds Tuesday morning. (DARRYL DYCK PHOTO)

Alert readers will recall that in addition to being premier of Alberta, Ms. Redford was for a spell the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Wildrose Party’s potential date at the upcoming unite-the-right cotillion.

“NDP government must clarify whether they have the best interests of Albertans or union pals at heart,” hyperventilated the headline on the Wildrose news release quoting Mr. Hunter, the MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner.

Of course, both things could be true at the same time, but let’s never mind that today. The Wildrose release immediately set off the anti-NDP barking chain at a few Postmedia newspapers, although for the most part the remaining real journalists in the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery tried to keep their hands off this embarrassing Opposition effort to manufacture a scandal.

After complaining about recent raises for provincial court judges – notorious trade unionists, those guys! – the Wildrose release stated that “current Alberta Health Services job postings have revealed that all management and out-of-scope positions at AHS are ‘being reviewed for possible inclusion in the AUPE General Support Services bargaining unit.’”

GrantHunter“This could potentially supply the AUPE with millions of extra dollars in union dues, and forcibly unionize more AHS employees, many of whom may have no interest in being unionized,” the release screeched, quoting Mr. Hunter accusing the government of looking out for “the NDP’s union pals.”

It’s troubling that this passage also used the sort of dog-whistle anti-union terminology associated with Cotton Belt right-to-work states and the unsavoury advocates of such policies in this country, such as former Conservative MP Rob Anders, jettisoned by the federal Conservatives as an embarrassment before the 2015 federal election.

But then, Mr. Hunter is well known for his suggestion the spectre of Communism is haunting Alberta, so that kind of rhetoric may just be part of his Montana-border shtick.

OK, here are the facts: The note that Mr. Hunter complained about has appeared on every Alberta Health Services job posting in the AHS general support service occupational bargaining unit since Oct. 14, 2013.

Every single one.

As noted, Ms. Redford was premier at the time this started. The year before, she had been welcomed to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ annual convention by union President Guy Smith. Subsequently, a couple more Tories were premiers of Alberta, fellows named Dave Hancock and Jim Prentice, while the practice continued.

Is Mr. Hunter also saying Ms. Redford, Mr. Hancock and Mr. Prentice are all “pals” with AUPE too?

PaulFraserAUPE was created, by the way, by the passage of the Public Service Employee Relations Act by the Conservative government of premier Peter Lougheed in 1977. The large general service bargaining unit was created, also by the way, by a policy implemented by premier Ralph Klein in 2003. Pals as well?

The notice is on all those job postings, an AHS spokesperson explained to me today, because as part of the collective agreement between AUPE and AHS, the union and employer have for several years been reviewing who under the terms of the collective agreement belongs in the union and who doesn’t.

If I may be so bold, this is a sensible and grown-up way of settling a disagreement without wasting taxpayers’ money or having a labour dispute. Nobody is being unreasonable about it – except the Wildrose Party, of course – which is why it’s been taking a long time under two different governing parties with somewhat different philosophies.

If there are any issues that simply can’t be resolved by this process, AHS noted, the parties have agreed, like the mature people they are, to refer them to the Alberta Labour Relations Board for a resolution.

Which brings us back to the original question in this post: Will Mr. Hunter and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, who is also quoted in the release, apologize to the NDP for their irresponsible and misleading statements?

They really should. Don’t hold your breath.

Investigation of Alison Redford’s role in ‘Tobaccogate’ not over yet

Speaking of Alison Redford, it would appear the fallout from her short, unhappy time at the helm of the PC Party and Alberta will continue for a while yet.

KathleenGanleyBritish Columbia Ethics Commissioner Paul Fraser, asked last spring to provide a disinterested opinion on whether another investigation is warranted into the appointment by Ms. Redford’s government of legal counsel to represent Alberta in litigation against tobacco companies, on Wednesday informed the government the matter should be looked at again.

One of the firms represented in the legal consortium chosen for the multi-billion-dollar lawsuit included Ms. Redford’s former husband and political advisor.

Mr. Fraser advised Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley in a letter that “I have determined that are-investigation is warranted based on new information that was revealed” after a 2013 investigation by the Alberta Ethics Commissioner of the day cleared Ms. Redford of any wrongdoing. “My decision to re-investigate should not be interpreted as a finding about the propriety of the conduct of the Honourable Alison Redford,” Mr. Fraser added.

“Commissioner Fraser has been asked by the Alberta Ethics Commissioner to undertake the re-investigation,” a news release from the Alberta government yesterday elaborated.

No doubt the Wildrose Opposition will also try to find a way to blame the NDP for what has come to be known in Alberta as Tobaccogate.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

6 Comments to: Wildrose blames NDP for a sensible labour relations practice implemented in 2013 by Alison Redford’s Tories

  1. August 5th, 2016

    BC Ethics Commissioner Paul Fraser cleared himself of conflict allegations after his son was hired into a high ranking, high paid, highly political position within Premier Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one.

    Reply
  2. Les

    August 5th, 2016

    The Whiningrose aren’t known to do any research. As a matter of fact, they aren’t known to do anything but complain…

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    August 5th, 2016

    It’s simple Dave. When you’re competing for Postmedia attention with the round, mound of sound, Jason Kenney, you have to up your game a little — fallacious comments notwithstanding. Kenney has been receiving the bulk of ink from Postmedia scribes; and the ‘Rosers have been relegated to the backbenches of media coverage, so to speak. Attempts to further ‘Roser notoriety has led them to parrot a Trump-like façade, to engage red-meat conservatives, who may be shifting their allegiance to Kinney. It’s likely we can expect more shenanigans from the ‘Rosers in the days ahead in the battle to win the hearts and minds of neocons during all-you-can-eat red meat season.

    Reply
    • CovKid

      August 5th, 2016

      “Round mound of sound”.

      I love that one: you really should copyright it!

      Reply
  4. August 5th, 2016

    It’s disappointing that the Wildrose reaction to the current economic recession is to cut more salaries and lay off more workers, which would ultimately hurt the economy and hurt Alberta families. I’m glad we have a government that believes in the public services that contribute to the high quality of life we have in Alberta.

    Reply
  5. jerrymacgp

    August 7th, 2016

    The roots of this lie in the fact that at Alberta Health Services, there are many, many employees that are classified as Out of Scope, yet are not Management in the sense described in the Labour Relations Code. They aren’t anybody’s bosses; they are, instead, project leads, advisors, PCN liaisons, and multiple other positions outside the direct “chain of command” between in-scope employes and the CEO. After their last contract (the one that has since expired to be replaced by the arbitrated settlement that was just announced last week), AUPE initiated a process pursuant to that collective agreement to review the classifications of each and every one of those Out of Scope but not really management positions, to see whether they should remain excluded from collective bargaining, and if not, to which functional bargaining unit they belong.

    If I recall correctly, the two other unions representing AHS employees, HSAA & UNA, signed onto that process to cover the contingency that some employees might end up in one of their functional bargaining units rather than an AUPE unit.

    This is a long and complex process, dealt with on a case-by-case basis and which can end up before the Labour Relations Board for situations where the parties fail to agree. It has little to do with politics per se.

    Reply

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