Alberta Has Bigger Issues to Solve, Premier
Bill 32 has the appearance of being used to advance political agendas regarding the activity of certain unions. In the midst of a generational crisis, this is wrong-headed and remarkably unhelpful
By Wayne Prins, Executive Director
Steve Jobs famously said, “Focus means saying no to the hundred other good ideas. . . . I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done.”
This quote came to mind when reflecting on the problematic elements of Bill 32, Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act.
The burden of leadership is heavy at the best of times. The burden becomes immense during periods of crisis. It is precisely at these times when the people of Alberta need their government to stay focussed on the issues that really matter.
CLAC is on the public record for having supported key elements of Bill 32. Specifically, we applaud the modernization of labour legislation that applies to the construction industry.
Alberta finally has labour legislation that recognizes the diversity of options available to workers in the construction industry. This will facilitate greater worker choice in the construction industry as well as better industry performance. All of this will help propel the Alberta economy forward, accelerating our economic and social recovery.
Unfortunately, Bill 32 has the appearance of being used to advance political agendas regarding the activity of certain unions. In the midst of a generational crisis, we think this is wrong-headed and remarkably unhelpful.
Consider our current state of affairs. Incredible deficits in response to COVID-19 are pushing governments into crippling debt. The gap between public- and private-sector compensation is growing to alarming levels. The collective anxiety of the population is at a level not experienced in the lifetime of most Albertans.
The solutions to the problems described above require an all-hands-on-deck approach. Difficult decisions will have to be made, and sacrifices will be required of almost everyone. To successfully navigate these waters, we believe it is in the interest of all Albertans that the government cooperate with all stakeholders, particularly with the numerous unions, both public and private sector, who represent many of Alberta’s workers.
This being the case, one might anticipate an effort to set aside differences and focus on the monumental task at hand.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead, the government is proceeding with unhelpful political pursuits at the most inopportune time. Instead of working together with partners in organized labour through the tough times ahead, the government will be mired in legal and public relations battles for the foreseeable future. The more important issues that need to be addressed will be overshadowed by these unnecessary and untimely proceedings.
Meanwhile, the true victims of this lost focus will be Albertans at large. Albertans who reasonably expect cordial relations between their government and the workers of Alberta.
We do not make these comments without regard for the underlying principles of your government’s actions. CLAC has always maintained our position that unions should be nonpartisan; unions should not spend members’ money supporting specific political parties. A deep respect for members’ dues money should inform all decisions made by labour leaders on how unions spend money.
However, CLAC maintains the approach taken in Bill 32 is both ineffective and ill-timed. Our focus today should be on economic recovery through cooperation.
Premier Kenney, the government may maintain its position that the idea is a good one, and the principle of the matter is important, but this would have been a great time to take pride in something that you didn’t do.