NDP Labour Critic and former Alberta labour minister Christina Gray addresses the Alberta Federation of Labour convention in Calgary this afternoon (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

CALGARY – An NDP Government will repeal the Sovereignty Act and other controversial UCP laws while creating better jobs in a more affordable Alberta, Opposition Labour Critic Christina Gray told delegates to the Alberta Federation of Labour’s biennial convention today.

Delegates to the AFL convention heard from NDP leader Rachel Notley, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and could not attend the AFL convention in person (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Appearing before about 500 delegates in the Calgary Convention Centre, Ms. Gray said they can expect an NDP government to deliver big changes and many outright policy reversals to health care, education, community support, economic diversification and labour legislation. 

Vowing to restore balance to the province’s workplace legislation, Ms. Gray said an NDP government would “repeal Bill 32’s attacks on workers’ rights, repeal Bill 47’s attacks on workplace safety, and repeal the horrendous Sovereignty Act that is attacking investment in this province.” 

“Unlike Danielle Smith’s UCP, we will protect your Canada Pension,” she went on, promising the NDP will end efforts to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan, “risking your retirement security just to stick it to Ottawa.”

It will also halt the UCP’s unpopular scheme to replace the RCMP with new force under the control of the provincial government, she said.

Ms. Gray said the NDP will also freeze auto insurance rates and cap utility rates – “because payday loans are not the answer to high power bills!”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

There was plenty more in Ms. Gray’s comprehensive policy speech, too, which was originally to have been delivered by Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley.

In a short video message before Ms. Gray stepped up to the microphone, however, Ms. Notley told the 500 union members in the hall she has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I know how important it is for me to do my part and make sure everyone in that room is safe,” she said. “I’m fine. I’m just isolating at home and resting so I can get better before we all set out on this campaign.”

Ms. Gray, a former labour minister in Ms. Notley’s cabinet, laid out an ambitious NDP agenda to reverse many unpopular United Conservative Party policies implemented under premiers Jason Kenney and Danielle Smith, including the school curriculum almost universally reviled by educators and the UCP’s efforts to suppress wages for low-wage workers.

Instead, she said, the NDP would build better future for Alberta by “investing in capital infrastructure, building the hospitals, schools, rec centres, roads, and bridges we need to keep our economy strong.”

And that, she said to the cheers of the crowd, will mean “good-paying jobs in construction, and under an Alberta NDP government, union jobs,” a sentiment that echoes many comments made since his election by U.S. President Joe Biden. “Through community benefit agreements we will make sure more of our infrastructure is union-built,” she added.

“With an NDP government, Albertans will see real action to grow and diversify the economy,” she promised. “We’ll diversify within our oil and gas with a major boost to petrochemical refining in the Heartland and find new ways to use our bitumen.

“Our party supports energy workers and supports our proud legacy of developing energy in this province,” she said. “This means being visionary when it comes to developing hydrogen fuels, exploring geothermal wells, and extracting more rare earth minerals.”

“We’ll do that while cutting emissions and drawing more investment in our abundant wind and solar resources,” Ms. Gray continued. “We’ll diversify outside of our energy sector with new diversification funds that support the development of advanced technology, digital media, value-add agriculture, and more.”

The NDP, she said, has a plan to attract $20-billion in private-sector investment that will create “jobs that pay the mortgage and support families, so that workers can come home and pay the bills.”

Ms. Gray mocked the approach taken by the UCP and Premier Smith: “We don’t want to ‘Take Back Alberta,’ we want to lead Canada! 

“But we can’t do that with Danielle Smith and the UCP and all her extreme friends and corrupt insiders. Under Danielle Smith, public health experts get fired and Conservative insiders get big paycheques to rewrite health laws!”

Meanwhile, Ms. Gray said, while “Albertans continue to struggle against record inflation. These so-called ‘affordability payments’ – if you were lucky enough to get one – all end in June.

When that happens, she said, “the cheques stop flowing – unless you’re Preston Manning!”

“You want to know how we know Danielle Smith can’t be premier?” Ms. Gray asked. “Because right now she holds the highest position of power in the entire province, and it only took an extremist like Artur Pawlowski 11 minutes to steamroll her into interfering in our system of justice!”

Likewise, Ms. Gray said, the UCP’s refusal to take the advice of health care experts led to the near collapse of the health care system, the impacts of which are still evident today. “Now she’s talking about privatization, user fees, and fund-raising for health care.”

Noting that it was Ms. Smith herself who said that, not anyone who disagrees with her policies, Ms. Gray remarked: “Makes you wonder – when is she going to sue herself for defamation?”

The NDP will return to the work of eliminating poverty and the social impact of poverty in Alberta by housing 40,000 Albertans building more permanent supportive housing and increasing rental supplements, she said. 

“We will restore fair overtime pay, fair holiday pay, and, yes, we will increase the minimum wage to match inflation.”

And if you work in Alberta, she added, “you should be able to take care of those you love, which means having sick leave, and parental leave, and affordable child care, and predictable schedules that give your family some stability.”

“We will invest directly in union-run training centres, recognizing Labour’s role in skilling up our workforce,” she said, addressing issues of concern to her audience.

“We will restore workplace health and safety laws. We’ll expand the right to refuse unsafe work. And we’ll put the ‘worker’ back into Workers’ Compensation.”

“We’ll expand general presumptive coverage for PTSD, and we will expand coverage for the brave firefighters who fought the Fort McMurray wildfire! Every last one of them.”

Ms. Gray also promised to restore card-check certification, which limits the opportunities for anti-union employers to bend the law to stop union organizing drives, and to restore first-contract arbitration, which provides a legal mechanism for newly unionized employees to reach a first collective agreement with an employer that refuses to negotiate. 

And she said the NDP would end the practice of “double-breasting,” running affiliated companies, union and non-union, to suppress wages while being able to bid on union-only work. 

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  1. I can imagine the UCP hollering that Notley is faking Covid infection because, as Smith will sure opine, it’s not real. Fake. Like, Trudeau fake. This the extent that the discourse has decayed in Alberta.

    And of course, establishing legislation that surely protects workers’ rights and safe in Alberta must surely be communism? What’s going to happen next? End private property and hand over to workers ownership of the means of production? 100,000 troops from PRC will be on the streets of every Alberta city and town the day after a Notley win. You watch, so says Brett Wilson.

  2. Well, well well….I have to say ,that the gloves are ‘on’ , and impo that round goes to the NDP…..nicely framed with just enough of a sting to let the opponent know, that you mean business. No butterflies there….!!

  3. Well if Rachel Notley was unable to present, having Ms.Grey to do it was a wonderful choice. There are strong people representing the NDP and they all support the same platform because they work as a team to support the citizens, not the Corporations.

  4. I notice there is a big difference between what the NDP is proposing to do, in comparison to what the UCP are doing. The NDP are doing what Peter Lougheed would do, which is helping Alberta go in a positive direction, which will benefit all Albertans,
    and not just some. That’s the kind of government we need in Alberta. The UCP are behaving like Ralph Klein, or Reformers, with very harmful policies, that are going to cost Alberta billions of dollars, and destroy jobs, and harm lives. That’s not what we need, but easy to fool people, including seniors, will fall for the lies that the UCP are saying. I do hope Albertans wake up. Furthermore, I hope Rachel Notley can recover from Covid-19, as soon as possible.

  5. Christina Gray makes a good point. Smith had no time for health care experts but she found the time to play supplicant serf to Artur Pawlowski. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir. Pawlowski and his ilk will be running the province if the UCP win the election.

  6. It’s time to take Alberta into the future. Only one party can do that: the NDP. It’s time to end the archaic practices and policies put in place by the UCP so that we can move forward.

    Take Back Alberta and its representative Danielle Smith want to return to the days of the failed Social Credit Party. That party was punted in 1971, the year Danielle Smith was born. They lost touch with reality. The past doesn’t exist any more. The UCP doesn’t exist any more. Its leader doesn’t lead. The UCP failed. They will only continue to harm this province and its people unless they are out out to pasture where they belong.

  7. Way to go! This is what all Albertans need to hear from the NDP. Smith and the UCP have been using our tax dollars to put themselves front and centre for too long. Time for Rachel and her team to call out and march on this coterie of panderers and fools. Get this message out to the rest of the province!

  8. Even though there is some default to still support conservatives in Alberta that should not be under estimated, this is a good reminder that so many of their policies are unpopular and not good.

    I suppose if you want higher insurance rates and higher electricity rates, support the UCP. Perhaps Smith will eventually be rewarded with a paid position on the board of a company in the utility business, like her predecessor Kenney was. It does not seem like a party focused on average Albertans.

    Add to that a stealthy plan to spend a lot of money on provincial police and risk peoples pensions by leaving the CPP, to supposedly give them more leverage and/or more money to gamble with on iffy investments.

    While the UCP has, in my opinion, a totally undeserved reputation for economic management, there is a lot of potentially bad news for regular Albertans buried in all their economic plans and policies.

  9. Finally some common sense – building from the bottom up, instead of destroying from the top down.

  10. Yet the ignorant seniors continue to prove how stupid they are calling anyone not as dumb as them sarcastic names in the blogs in the newspapers egged on by the Sun and other newspapers editors who aren’t any smarter. These poor old stupid soles aren’t man enough to handle the truth, and refuse to look at the articles providing the truth. They bad mouth union members every chance they get and are too dumb to understand that if it weren’t for union’s protection we would all be in a hell of a mess. I never worked for one but have seen what they did for the people, and I respect them. Because our employees were scare of them they treated us right.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: You certainly have it right. I don’t know how people are so foolish and fall for the lies of these pretend conservatives and Reformers.

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