1 Drunk Driver 3 Tragic Deaths

1 Drunk Driver 3 Tragic Deaths

My friend Zane Novak wrote the post below on his facebook page. I share it here with his permission with the hope that it will be shared widely. DON’T Drink and Drive or drive high and make sure to hug your loved ones every day. Zane’s words below:

After much pondering I have decided to write a post today, Nov 26th, 2016. I hope that all of my friends will read this and share it. Maybe out of the worst tragedy in my life, something good can happen. Many of you know this story, but please read it again and remember.
5 years ago at 8 AM, the RCMP knocked on my door and within
2 minutes and 4 sentences informed me that my 18 yr old son Kole Novak, his best friend Bradley Arsenault and my daughter’s 22 yr old boyfriend Thaddeus Lake were all killed by a drunk driver a few short hours earlier.

Mine and Karmia Novak‘s lives were forever changed and not for the better. Nothing will ever come close to being the same for me. Don’t tell me everything happens for a reason. No reason exists in this world that justifies Kole dying.

A drunk driver with a blood alcohol content of .251 driving a one ton truck at 200 kmph in a 70 km zone drove right through the car my son and Thad and Brad were in, killing them. The drunk broke his leg, that’s it.

He never apologized, never took responsibility, in fact he plead NOT GUILTY and so drug us all through the court process for an additional 3 years of hell.

If you, my Facebook friend, at all appreciate me, respect me, or if you appreciate and respect your friends, SHARE THIS POST. Don’t drink and drive, don’t let your friends do it either.

Don’t think you can drink or blaze and be safe behind the wheel of a 3,000 pound weapon.

My amazing, talented son Kole Novak is dead and I will forever be broken, and don’t for a moment think that it can’t happen to you. That you won’t hurt some one if you drive impaired by alcohol or drugs and don’t think that you will always return home safe.

People make selfish choices and the rest of us pay an unimaginable price.
I will never ever be the man, the father, the person I was.

Before you take your first drink or puff, make a plan.

Please share this. Let’s save a life. Every day 4 Canadians die and over 200 are injured due to impaired drivers.

Don’t let Kole’s death mean even less, I beg you please.

Zane

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Alberta Student Ministerial Internship Program – Guest Blog

Our good friend, John Hampson, has certainly left his mark on the new Alison Redford government by pitching the idea of the Alberta Student Ministerial Internship Program and seeing it come to fruition. John is a twenty-something working as Special Assistant to the Premier – and if his successful pitch story is an example of things to come in Redford’s government we can be confident that #changefromwithin is not just a pipe dream.

I’ve been so proud of all John has accomplished in his young life – and look forward to where he will go next. He wrote the blog below at our request – why did we request it? Well – Peter noticed a whole lot of young people wandering the Legislature halls during his last visit up to Edmonton and John had the answers as to why they were all there.

I hope to see more examples like this program in the near future. Hoping all the interns have a fabulous summer too!

Thanks for this guest blog John!
CR

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Alberta Student Ministerial Internship Program

Only six months into my career with the Government of Alberta, it’s become resoundingly clear that we are living in exponential times! This sentiment echoes true when we take a look at the generational shifts that exist within our provincial government administration. Four generations currently work side by side; Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. This includes people born in 1930 all the way to 2000!

At any given moment approximately 25% of the Alberta Public Service could retire.  Some may see this as cause for concern, I do not. I see this as a tremendous opportunity for Generation Y to step up to plate and think seriously about a career in the Alberta Public Service. That’s what we’re hoping to accomplish with the Alberta Student Ministerial Internship Program (ASMIP). This is a new and unique program that provides post-secondary students with the opportunity to learn about government, develop workplace skills and gain career-related experience, all while working at the Alberta Legislature within Ministerial Offices.

Recognizing the power of mentorship and the emergent need to excite our generation about the incredibly rewarding career paths offered through the Alberta Public Service, Premier Redford’s Office developed this initiative in January and moved quickly to roll out the program in time for a summer launch. The response to the competition was overwhelming. Over 350 students applied. From that, we were able to place 26 exceptional interns into Ministerial Offices with duties ranging from coordinating aspects of their Minister’s schedule, briefing their Minister on relevant issues and attending community events with their Minister. Additionally, Interns participate in an intensive learning and development seminar series, which entails weekly sessions with visionary leaders from the Alberta Public Service, further providing Interns with an even greater understanding of what the Government of Alberta is all about.

At the end of the day, we’re so excited about this incredible learning opportunity for students and the amazing potential for us to inspire the next generation of Alberta leaders to look to the public service as they plan their career path!

John Hampson

Guest Blog by Doug Griffiths: On the Budget

As you may have noticed there is a PCAA leadership race going on in Alberta – it is an exciting time and there is promise of change in the air. What excites me most is that a party leadership race often sparks the opportunity to share new innovative ideas. There is an expectation that there will be fresh prospective.

Doug Griffiths and his Build a Better Alberta campaign is exactly that, in my opinion. His first, in what he tells us will be a series of blogs, talks about the Alberta Budget in a different way that we are used to. Sit back and take it in … and pay close attention to the need for a long term fiscal framework.

CR xo

Doug’s words start now …

I have been reading over the budget and I have a few comments I thought I would make since there is ‘sort of’ a leadership race going on and so many have asked me for comments and my evaluation.

First, it is a little tough to fully evaluate this budget without the context of a long-term fiscal framework to judge it against. A long-term fiscal framework lays out the spending, saving, and tax policy over the next few years so that all Albertans know what to expect—not just this year—but in years to come. A long-term fiscal framework would ease fears by putting into place plans that would show the course for getting out of the red ink, but also for managing the next round of surpluses that would come with the next boom.

Some will want to simplify our current fiscal challenges as either a spending problem or a revenue problem. Our situation is, unfortunately, more complex than that. We have both revenue and spending problems. Natural gas royalties provide about two thirds of the province’s royalty revenue. With prices consistently low it is causing huge revenue shortfalls, and there is no end in sight as forecasts predict natural gas prices to remain low for years to come. Any upward revenue adjustments that come from, and will come from, increasing crude oil prices are, and will continue to be, offset by the rise in the Canadian dollar, which lowers revenue to the provincial coffers. So we have a revenue problem.

We have a spending challenge as well. We consistently spend more per capita than virtually anywhere else in the nation, and unfortunately we often spend more while seeing average or below average results in some of our largest programs. It has been too easy in Alberta to simply spend more money, since we had lots, and hope the problem would go away. It’s not simply the government’s fault for that either, though it is easy to blame the government. We, as Albertans, consistently demanded more money be spent on our challenges. Often money is the last step in the process to find a solution, and often isn’t necessary at all, but we got used to saying and hearing how much money was going to address a problem, and we accepted that everything would be okay. So, we have a spending problem too, since spending isn’t always the answer we think it is, but have come to rely on it.

Now, I am going to shock a few of you by saying that there is nothing inherently or morally wrong with running a deficit. A deficit is a one-year shortfall of revenue over spending. It is necessary, on occasion, to run a deficit to cope with unforeseen circumstances, such as the worst global recession in 70 years, or a steep and long decline in the price of natural gas. Circumstances like that happen and so it is appropriate to offset steep, sudden, and unforeseeable revenue declines with acute deficits that are covered by accumulated savings deliberately set aside for this very purpose.
It is important to have the savings to ensure there is no need to cut essential programs and critical investments, such as in education, research and development, and necessary social programs due to a temporary situation. It would be short-sighted to cut investments that ensure our long-term success because of a short-term issue. Building a savings account, such as our Sustainability Fund, to cover shortfall revenue is sound government policy, especially for such cyclical economies as ours. It affords us the opportunity to cushion and pad the boom and bust blows we are all too familiar with in our economy.

We have some long-term revenue challenges, as I identified earlier, that could keep us in a tight spot for a while, so it is critical to watch spending. I am pleased that this budget keeps the spending to only a 2.2% increase; pretty good by anyone’s standards. In fact, if you look closely, you will see that the province is running an operating surplus of almost half a billion dollars. That is good because operating deficits are dangerous even with a Sustainability Fund in place. Operating deficits have the potential to become chronic, rather than acute, and accumulate into long-term debt. Long term debt accumulated because of operating deficits is unacceptable. This is a tax on the next generation for what we want today. That is spending money our children have not yet earned. Thankfully, we are not in this place. Not yet.

It is also important to have the resources available to invest in infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and roads that will be used for generations to come. The province had an Infrastructure Fund, which it rolled into the Sustainability Fund. That was a pool of funds set aside to deliberately build infrastructure during the economic downturn when the province would get much more value for the money spent than at peak economic cycles. That was prudent planning and the province is spending much of that money to build infrastructure while costs are still down. Once our economy heats up again and the private sector increases their investments, we will not get as much value for our money. We need a solid plan to provide the necessary infrastructure to support our economy, and manage that investment throughout the market cycles.

As a wise and successful man once said, “When everyone else is afraid, be bold, and when everyone else is being bold, be afraid.”

The current shortfall in this budget, therefore, is not due to operating deficits, but rather investment in infrastructure. Some people may suggest that the government should not be using savings to invest in infrastructure. They may suggest the government should only invest in using in year cash available. In reality, infrastructure is utilized over generations, and as the foundation on which the economy is built, must be capitalized over longer terms, especially in economies such as ours that grow at such incredible rates. The investment in infrastructure during this downturn is an investment in the future and for future generations. Government is a $36 billion dollar company and requires long-term planning and vision, and must invest on market cycles, not cash cycles. Cash in-cash out thinking is how you run a flea market, not a $36 billion corporation.

That said, we cannot cease to be vigilant. The investments we make in infrastructure must be wise and prudent, be critical to the foundation of our economy. As a province and as a public we cannot afford to build our infrastructure in cycles that compete with the private sector and exacerbate the boom and bust cycles we so often experience. We must ensure a planned flow of investment to ensure wise spending of taxpayer dollars. As well, we can never place ourselves in a position where short term program spending deficits caused by unforeseen circumstances become chronic spending deficits. Currently we are not running a deficit on program spending, but with consistently low revenue pressures and consistently high spending pressures, the situation has the potential to get away on us.
This all warrants having a discussion, and Albertans, not just politicians, need to be front and centre participants in that discussion. We need to be deliberate architects of our own destiny.
Without a long-term fiscal framework, it is hard to assess whether this situation is still short-term acute or at risk of becoming chronic.

Without a long-term fiscal framework it is hard to evaluate if we have ensured the right time to invest, or the right way to save, or the right programs for government to provide. Without a long-term fiscal framework we don’t have a plan to manage the next boom, which will then prepare us for the next bust. Without a long-term fiscal framework we don’t know whether we are making the right choices for ourselves, and for our children to ensure their future is bright. Without a long-term fiscal framework we simply have no context to assess whether we are making all the choices necessary to build a better Alberta.

Doug Griffiths

Honolulu Marathon 2010: The Real Runners, MLA Len Webber & his daughter Lauren

What do Alberta politicians and their families do over the holidays? Well lots of things – the Webber family decided to honor the memory of their wife and mother by running the Honolulu Marathon.

Len Webber is the MLA for Calgary-Foothills, the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and a passionate advocate for his community. He is always willing to give time to his constituents, board members, and friends. He is a natural leader, mentor and incredible father. Len makes the best out of every situation. He is passionate about staying fit and his road to fitness is an inspiring one. His story, in his own words, starts here:

As you may know, my more active lifestyle really began when I inherited my wife Heather’s 4 year old Labrador-Golden Retriever after her passing. I started out with half hour walks with “Lucy” when I realized that her rambunctious energy and love for getting out running told me that half hour walks were just not going to cut it. I had to graduate to slow jogs to keep up to Lucy and give her the exercise she deserves. You have to understand, I was not a runner then, in fact, I hated running and would avoid it at any cost.

In time, 45 minute slow jogs evolved into 1 hour faster paced runs. Again, in time we averaged 10km an hour with goals of getting faster and going farther. When we reached about 11km per hour, I noticed Lucy was now lagging behind me and I would at times have to stop and wait for her to get caught up.

I’ve been working out hard here at the gym here in Puerto Vallarta over my time off and running one hour every morning plus many reps and sets of weights. I’m feeling fitter and stronger than I have in decades, and my energy level has skyrocketed! My resolution is to continue a regimented fitness routine in the New Year. I will attempt to run the 42 km Honolulu Marathon again next December, with a goal of finishing it in less than 4 hours.

‎My first marathon this December in Honolulu was far more difficult than I had ever imagined. I was on pace for an under 4 hour finish when my calves started cramping around the 22 mile point, where I had to stop and stretch, and it was friggin hot! I ended up finishing at 4.5 hours, which I was not happy with (exactly double the time of first place finisher from Kenya at 2 hrs, 15 mins)! I learned a lot about what I must do next time, with regard to nutrition and dehydration during a run in a hot climate. Will be more prepared next marathon! 🙂

Len

Lauren Webber is just as inspiring as her father. She is the President of the Students’ Union at the University of Calgary, star student, incredible example to her peers, and never stops smiling. She is a leader, and I am confident her influence will only grow as she does. She is a face of the future for this province and I couldn’t be more proud to call her a friend.

Lauren’s experience of the race is not unlike her dad’s. Her example of perseverance and her determination to finish the race on behalf of her mom is inspiring. And who better could capture Len’s experience then his own daughter that ran the race with him. Her words start here:

A marathon, 42.195 kilometers, 26 miles or 385 yards is a distance particular humans feel necessary to run as a road race to accomplish something in their life.

My mom was one of those extraordinary humans – always someone who wanted that huge challenge. She participated as a Warrior with the Cancervive Peloton to Austin, Texas in 2007, and in 2008 found herself doing the Rocky thrust on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum, at a Livestrong event where she met cycling great and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

Even though her cancer had reoccurred tenfold in 2010, she had always wanted to run the Honolulu Marathon and invited friends and family to train with her in December of that year. Despite her intense determination not to let cancer get the better of her, by the time the marathon rolled around she wasn’t healthy enough even walk the course. Still, she insisted on being there to cheer on the 20 friends, who called themselves “Heather’s Honolulu Hopefuls” as they crossed the finish line.

My mom lived by “putting things on the books.” She always wanted me to travel, constantly be busy with fun challenges because life, especially in her case, is way too short. So, a few weeks after her funeral, that’s exactly what my dad and I did. We planned something big and planned something exciting down the road (literally).

She had always wanted to finish a marathon, so my dad and I were going to finish it for her.

2010 seems like a blur to be honest. It had been an unbelievably insane year with Presidential work and traveling and family life, so training was the easiest thing to push aside. I was very nervous leading up to the run… even though I knew I had completed several of the ‘long’ training runs with some of my friends from the University team, the furthest distance had been about 2.5 hours or 30km… And I honestly thought I’d die after those..

The morning of the race Dec.12, 2010 started out great actually, the amount of people there are is probably 100 times the crowd at the Calgary Stampede parade. Fireworks marked the start of the clock and we were off at 5am.  The first 10km felt great, even at the half-marathon mark, things were a little stiff – but the adrenaline, high glycogen from all the high cal ‘astronaught food’ we’d strapped to our bodies and true camaraderie between runners on the course kept us moving.

Everyone tells you about the legendary, infamous ‘hitting the wall’. I didn’t think it would happen because our teammates had been so encouraging to each other and I had stayed well hydrated but I definitely hit a wall at about the 40km mark. It was about 9am now and 28 degrees Celsius, pulling teeth would have been more pleasant. Every single muscle in your body is screaming at you to stop, deep cramping kicks in, crying ensues and it takes everything in you not to begin crawling… It was the most physically excruciating feeling I have and ever will endure. Sounds fun hey? I can remember it so distinctly, even exactly where I was on the course. I felt angry with myself that perhaps if I had just trained harder, or ate healthier or didn’t have that beer at the Den a month ago, this wouldn’t be happening. I tried to distract myself from the pain, talking, drinking water, looking at the most beautiful oceanfront scenery in the world, when for some reason a documentary on Terry Fox surfaced in my mind.

Terry Fox was 22 when he passed away, the same age as I am now. For 142 days straight he ran 26 miles per day. He ran a full marathon distance, every single day, crossing 3,000 miles until he was forced to stop. I have two perfectly working legs, only would run a marathon once and wasn’t being forced to stop by anything. I had only 2.19 kilometers left and my self-pity quickly withered away. It began to sprinkle rain and it was the best feeling in the world. Churchill once said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” He was so right.

At 1km left you can see the finish line just meters away. I started bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t believe I was so close and was going to finish this audacious, looming goal I had committed to 9 months prior. It was done and we got a lay of seashells around our neck by the gorgeous Hawaiian natives greeting us at the finish. I walked to a picnic table under a huge Canadian flag our team hung the day prior and we ate chips and coca-cola to get our salt and sugars restored. It was glorious. The best and most surreal feeling, I still sometimes find it hard to believe that my dad and I RAN an entire marathon.

I wish my mom could’ve done it with us but I know she was there and I’m so grateful she inspired us to do something like that. It is entirely a therapeutic escape and great time all to yourself.

My dad has already signed up for another Marathon; I’m so proud of him and it makes me so happy that amongst sadness, something like this has positively changed his life.

Lauren

Thanks so much Lauren and Len. Thank you for inspiring PCinYYC and for reminding us what life is all about. We are proud to call you friends and leaders of the PCAA.

CR xo

Special Health Care Message, from PC Alberta Leader Ed Stelmach

I’m always delighted when I see an email from the PC Party in my inbox – especially over the last several months. Recently I have especially noticed the importance the Party Executive, and the Party Leader, Ed Stelmach, have put on being open and transparent with their party members and the public. They are making sure we are informed and a part of the process.

This email was sent this afternoon at about 3:30pm. We wanted to share.

“A Special Health Care Message” right from the PC Leader. No media spin, no opposition spin, and no spin from those of us chirping on twitter.

I’m especially impressed with his promise of 600 more continuing care beds by March 31, 2011. That is only 4 months away – and after chatting with a doctor friend of @ppilarski and mine over the weekend I believe this will help dramatically. She explained, through her firsthand experience, that more continuing care beds and a stronger home care system will alleviate some of the ER stress.

Looking forward to the continued communication from the PC Leader and for the additional information he committed to providing in the coming weeks.

CR

To: pcforum@albertapc.ab.ca
Subject: Health Care Message
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010 15:27:13 -0700

Alot has been said on the state of our health care system in Alberta over the last few days, and given the many calls and e-mails coming in to the PC Alberta office recently, we thought that it was important to provide you with a report on what is actually taking place in health.

First, we want to make it clear that despite the claims that the system is in crisis, our emergency rooms are open and front line staff continue to deliver the services Albertans require.

Yes, ER waiting times have been recognized as being too long, which is why a number of initiatives were put in place in recent months, like new emergency department protocols and the opening of 81 additional acute care beds in Edmonton and Calgary over the next three months to create new surge capacity. In addition, new primary care networks have been set up across the province.

In total there are now 38 of these networks and more will be added to the system soon. About two million Albertans now have access to health care services through these innovative networks.

We have also established a five-year funding plan for health services that will provide the stability needed in the system to deliver better care. This funding is supporting 800 new continuing care beds and will provide at least 600 more beds by March 31, 2011. These dollars will also contribute to the expansion of the Alberta Health Services home care program that is supporting 900 more high-needs home care clients in Calgary and Edmonton.

Unfortunately, all these positive initiatives have been overshadowed by the personal distractions of the last few weeks. Decisions such as the suspension of a caucus colleague are always difficult and taken very seriously.

During this time, caucus offered great compassion and support to Dr. Sherman for the pressures he faced as a physician and as a member of Government Caucus. Ultimately, while we respect and welcome constructive debate and advocacy, we have to ensure that it is done for the best interest of Albertans.

This is true in caucus and it is also true on the Alberta Health Services leadership team. That’s why we support their decision to appoint interim chief executive officer, Dr. Chris Eagle, and we remain committed to our goal of creating the best performing health-care system in the country and reducing emergency room wait times.

Next week you will see more information about Alberta’s health care action plan. This plan outlines the initiatives that we will undertake and the performance measures that will highlight our progress to becoming the best-performing public funded health care system in Canada. 

Finally I want to recognize and thank all health care professionals who continue to deliver necessary health services to you and your families.

Sincerely,
Ed Stelmach

Guest Blog by Brian Dell: Unions Flex Muscles (again)

The following blog was posted on http://briandell.blogspot.com/ by a guy named Brian Dell, whom I have never met.  As you can see, Brian is a like-minded blogger.  I would like to thank Brian for agreeing to be a guest blogger on PCinYYC.

 

Much of what I blog about is based on well research facts – Brian presents some of these facts in his blog.  Now that I have your attention, I hope that you enjoy the continued education …. PP

 

Brian’s blog starts here ….

 

Section 29 of the Alberta Labour Relations Code explicitly allows unions to demand collective agreements whereby “all the employees… are required to be members of a trade union.” Only employees who convince the Labour Relations Board that their “religious belief” prohibits them from being a union member are exempt from this coercion, in which case an employee could potentially get his or her union dues directed to a charity instead of the union.

 

When Edmonton McClung introduced its motion to bar unions from forcing Albertans to pay dues that are then used for political purposes, the constituency association noted that Alberta is one of the few jurisdictions in the world that denies individual employees the right to opt out of having to pay mandatory union dues that are then used for political messaging.

 

In early 2008, in the lead up to the March 3 provincial election, an outfit calling itself “Albertans for Change” but in fact run by union bosses ran a series of TV and radio attack ads paid for by forced union dues. When the Merit Contractors Association and the National Citizens’ Coalition called attention to the fact that this astroturf group was using mandatory dues for activities unrelated to the core union activities of collective bargaining and grievance administration, the Alberta Federation of Labour responded saying Merit Contractors and the NCC were “simply trying to further their union busting agenda” and cited a 1991 Supreme Court of Canada case, Lavigne v. OPSEU. However, Mr Lavigne was not a member of and not required to join a union, unlike the case in Alberta where union membership is often forced. Indeed, when the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the case to support the union position, the CCLA concluded that “Lavigne’s protection is in his right to join or not to join” a union. Remove that protection and the Lavigne case is distinguishable.

 

Alberta Union of Public Employees spokesman David Climenhaga trotted out the “but the courts say” argument on his personal blog after the Wildrose Alliance AGM earlier this year to contend that passing a particular “right to work” law would be “a pointless gesture.” The McClung members who proposed the motion here anticipated this sort of retort, however, by attaching a legal opinion solicited by Merit Contractors from a Calgary law firm.

 

I might add that, in specific response to blogger Ken Chapman’s claims that the facts cited by the motion’s supporters were “unsubstantiated” and in need of “proof,” the union practices at issue here are prohibited in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the 47 countries of the Council of Europe. While far left Canadian judges like Claire L’Heureux-Dubé have held that freedom of association implies no freedom to not associate, Article 20(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly affirms that negative right: “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”

 

The European Council of Human Rights, perhaps the most famous of the Council of Europe’s bodies, ruled in 1981 by an 11 to 3 vote that a 1975 agreement between British Rail and three trade unions requiring union membership as a condition of employment violated Section 11 (freedom of association) of the European Convention on Human Rights (to which all Council members are a party). The 2006 case Sørensen & Rasmussen v. Denmark made it clear that a “closed shop” is still in violation even if it were made clear to a prospective job applicant in advance that union membership would be a condition of employment. “[T]here is little support in the Contracting States for the maintenance of closed shop agreements,” the Court added. The 2007 decision Evaldsson et al v. Sweden prohibited the use of union dues from non-members for non-bargaining (ie political) purposes, with the Court disapprovingly noting that “they had to pay the fees against their will to an organization with a political agenda.”

 

Although it is currently the case that in the United States unions can spend a member’s dues on politics, members have the right to opt out, a right that is currently denied in Alberta. Unions are currently in a panic about Republican gains in elections tomorrow because of fears that the GOP will change the obscure opt out procedure to an opt in requirement for dues union leaders want to spend on politics.

 

At this weekend’s PC Alberta AGM, union supporters tried to shout down opponents. When the vote was taken, it appeared close enough that some called for a count, a contention supported by the Edmonton Journal which described the margin as “narrow”, but the moderator dismissed a count as unnecessary and the union supporters declared victory. According to CTV, “[d]ozens of people, apparently union members, bought party memberships specifically for that vote and defeated the motion much to the dismay of many long-time party members.” The number of “Ten Minute Tories” might well have been significantly higher. In 2006, the Journal reported that a coalition of unions “apparently plans to buy as many as 10,000 Tory memberships” to get their man into the premier’s chair. As it is, the current chair of the government caucus, Robin Campbell, is a former union boss. South of the border in New Jersey, the AFL-CIO spends a quarter million per year running a “candidate school” to get their (Manchurian) candidates elected, and with considerable success given that this union school “has groomed more than 160 current officeholders.”

 

I nonetheless take some comfort in the fact a few grassroots PC members came to the AGM prepared to get their battle on against this economic phenomenon known as a labour supply monopoly or, in popular parlance, a union.

 

 

At the Wildrose Alliance AGM during the summer, there was essentially no floor battle to speak of since the unions had, in effect, pulled off an inside job. After cordial meetings with Alberta unions during the months leading up to the AGM, floor-crossing MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth spent essentially all of their microphone time on the convention floor lobbying for closed shops and the killing of party planks like the one that protected “the democratic right to a secret ballot,” thus precluding the need for more transparently union-affiliated speakers to make the case. Party leader Danielle Smith, who had previously had her own tête à tête with AUPE’s boss (photo above at right), told media outside the convention room that the union coddling constituted a display of “sophistication.”

 

I relate the disturbing ties between the Wildrose caucus and union lobbyists in order to note that apparently every elected politician is either running scared from the unions or in their pocket. In the US, the Associated Builders and Contractors (a merit shop coalition) noted a study last year that found that union slush funds had contributed more than $1 billion to contract bidding schemes that increased the cost of construction projects for taxpayers. The equivalent slush funds in Alberta, known as MERFs or “Stab funds, were finally targeted by the Alberta government in 2008 by Bill 26, which also aimed to put a stop to the union practice of “salting” (having their people respond to hiring ads and then, after having been hired just in time to vote to unionize, walking off the job to leave the employer both short manpower and unionized). The schemes Bill 26 corrected were so outrageous the union bosses knew they could not organize popular protests against the bill, but provincial lawmakers were still so afraid of union muscle they passed the bill as the very last measure of the spring 2008 sitting and at 3:15 AM in the morning. Legislature personnel were furthermore so intimidated that security guards at the Leg were placed on high alert.

 

There are four major political parties in the province (five if you include the Alberta Party) and the leadership and/or caucus of none of them seems prepared to make an issue out of the fact that Alberta tolerates closed shops where Europeans do not, and that provincial legislation adds insult to injury by allowing unions to pile mandatory dues to be used for political lobbying on top of mandatory membership. The PC members who voted against the McClung proposal giving workers a right to opt out of having mandatory dues used to fund leftist causes are ultimately traitors when you consider the fact that in 2008 such money was used to fund a media assault on the PC Party, but “traitor” implies an allegiance that can be betrayed.

 

Albertans are entitled to a political alternative. The NDP accordingly has a good excuse for, say, not supporting the 29 Old Dutch employees whom the UFCW union and the Alberta Labour Relations Board say should be fired for refusing to pay union dues. For 38 years the UFCW and Old Dutch collective bargaining agreement provided for a voluntary dues check off. In the wake of a lengthy labour dispute, however, UFCW demanded that the dues be made mandatory.

 

Even though mandatory dues are virtually cost free to employers, Old Dutch did not agree. The obvious solution in the union’s view then became getting the government to step in and amend the Alberta Labour Code. This summer, the Stelmach government indicated that it would side against the 29 workers. Perhaps the Wildrose Alliance could have said something about this instead of going on about legal disputes in other provinces.