Alison Redford’s Leadership Win and Unions

One the funniest and most ignorant comments on Twitter about Alison Redford’s PC Leadership win last weekend has been coming from both the left and right side of the political spectrum – mainly, the idea that Alison won the election thanks to unions.

While it’s true that Redford met with the Alberta Teacher’s Association and promised to put $100 million back into Alberta classrooms within 10 days of being elected to office, she does not owe her win to organized labour.  Instead, she owes her win to teachers, parents, students, nurses, doctors, engineers, electricians, janitors and every other Albertans who gave her their vote – whether they work in a unionized environment or not.

Alison Redford’s campaign was focused on policies that matter to everyday Albertans.  She talked about increasing accessibility to Alberta’s public healthcare system and providing predictable and sustainable funding for education.  She had ideas about making Alberta a global energy capital, as well as thoughts on economic diversification and job creation.  She talked about those expensive cell phone charges that annoy Canadians to no end.

On the specific topic of labour and unions, Alison is on record several times indicating that she is fully aware that the Alberta Labour Code hasn’t been touched since 1988 and that she supports a review to ensure that Alberta’s labour market remains competitive relative to other provinces in Canada and jurisdictions around the world.

So I just can’t help but laugh when I see tweet like “#pcldr chosen by unions” from a known NDP supporter or “I can’t believe we have a ‘conservative’ Premier in Alberta that is now beholden to unions …”

Of course this is nothing more than filthy and meaningless political rhetoric from terrified opposition party supporters who know that Alison is one of the most intelligent and capable leaders the PC Party has ever elected.

However, Albertans need not be afraid.  While Alison Redford did win the election with the help of teachers, she is NOT beholden to unions.

Take if from David Climenhaga, the most hard core union sympathizer I have ever met, who said in a recent blog that:

…while it’s a fact Alberta labour leaders can’t usually deliver their members’ votes to anyone, union members are paying attention and labour votes matter anyways.  In other words, you can’t tell union members what to do, but they’ll figure it out for themselves.”

David is right – individual union members don’t blindly follow what union bosses tell them to do.  The fact that teachers may have supported Alison Redford’s leadership bid because she promised to put money back into classroom has nothing to do with the union itself.

In fact, I look forward to testing Mr. Climenhaga’s conclusion that “Alberta labour leaders can’t usually deliver their members’ votes anymore” when the Alberta government undertakes a labour code review.

Will individual union members run to the polls to take down a government that considers an idea such as eliminating the fines that a union can charge its members for working for a non-union company?  I doubt it.

Will individual union workers get fired up about potential amendments to the labour code that could allow them to opt-out of paying the portion of their union dues that go towards political causes they don’t want to support?  I can’t see that happening.

What about recommendations that would allow both union and non-union construction workers to work harmoniously and efficiently side-by-side on the same jobsite.  Do you really think union members will drop their tool belts and run to the polls to vote against the Party their hiring hall tells them is making them commit this atrocity?   I wouldn’t hold my breath on that ….

If Alison Redford is beholden to anyone its Albertans – she campaigned directly to them with policies that matter to their everyday lives.  I am confident that as long as Alison Redford continues to do what is right for individual Albertans and Alberta’s economy, she owes nothing to unions themselves.

PP

Worth the Effort

The last few days of #pcldr have been a roller coaster of emotion for @crontynen and me, as well as many on the @alison4premier campaign team. But campaigns are interesting creatures and just as quickly as we felt down, we were right back up again. Today, we are more motivated than ever to continuing to fight for what we have been talking about since long before this leadership race began – change from within.

While we didn’t start on @alison4premier’s campaign team, we now know that we are backing the right leader – the one who stands alone in talking about change. There are those out there who will call me disloyal for leaving a campaign team or not getting onside for the sake of “party unity”, but I stand proudly behind the leader I believe that represents my principles, passions and concerns –and the one who shows resilience of character in the face of relentless adversity.

There are those in other parties who will try to convince me that the #pcaa is beyond fixing – that I should just give up and join them. I respectfully disagree. This Party has a proud history and sound principles that are worth fighting for. “Values of innovation, commitment, excellence and integrity …” These are values that both @alison4premier and @hornerforAB have been talking about and fighting for and values that set them apart in this leadership race.

I respect those who fight for change in Alberta by working tirelessly for political parties other than #pcaa. But I believe strongly that #changefromwithin is worth the effort and I proudly stand behind @alison4premier as the agent of that change! If you tell your friends, family, neighbors, partners, colleagues … if you tell everyone you know to be a part of that change, together we can create an Alberta we can be proud of!

Join me on September 27th or October 1st by voting for Alison Redford.

PP

A Bold Tim Hudak is Ready to Take Ontario in a New Direction!

Ontario PC Party Leader, Tim Hudak, released his Party’s election platform last weekend and showed the people of Ontario just how serious the Ontario PCs are about becoming the new government in that province.  The document is bold and ambitious, which is consistent with this leader and exactly what Ontario needs to get turned around.

Cleverly called the “Changebook”, Hudak and his Party have set a clear direction through this document that will make many Ontario residents excited.  Its focus is on putting “more money in families’ pockets, guarantee services and cleaning up government – it’s progressive and it’s conservative.   It’s the stuff winning campaigns are made of!

Of particular interest to this blogger is the section of the Changebook about making “Ontario labour laws fairer for union members and taxpayers”.  I am impressed that Hudak included these policy statements in this document.  It shows the he is not afraid to stand up for what is right on the labour front – something most politicians in Canada have struggled with.

The policies in this section are substantial: “giving individuals the right to a secret ballot in certification votes; introducing paycheck protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes they don’t support; requiring unions to be transparent and open with their financial information just as businesses and charities are.”

These policies address the issue of workplace democracy and transparency and are critically needed in Canada.  They address the rights of individuals within the collective.  It’s a subtle and complicated topic, but it’s critically important for Canadians to discuss.

One policy in this area is about increased financial transparency for unions.  This is long overdue.  Transparency is becoming more important in all aspects of business, government, charities, etc. … and unions must be held to the same standards.

Some people will kick and scream about how these policies are an assault on unions and the rights of workers.  They will make emotional arguments about how Hudak is trying to screw over the working man when in fact these policies will do the opposite – they will give individual workers rights vis-à-vis their union – they will correct an imbalance that currently exists in ALL Canadian unionized workplaces.

These are important rights to have.  Think about the fact that workers in Ontario’s construction industry do NOT have the right to a secret ballot for union certification votes.  That in itself is appalling in a modern Canadian democracy.

Now think about the fact that construction workers had this right stripped from them immediately after Dalton McGuinty became the Premier of Ontario.  Why?  Because Mr. McGuinty won the election with the help of $5 million in attack ads paid for by the “Working Families Coalition”, which is an organization made up of Ontario unions – primarily building trade unions.

Think about it – the “Working Families Coalition”, made up primarily of Building Trade Unions spend $5 million on negative attack ads to help McGuinty win the election.  As soon as McGuinty wins, he strips construction workers the right to a secret ballot so that it’s easier for these unions to get organized.  More organization means more money in union coffers and more money for attack ads to help the Liberals.  These things were not done in the interest of the Ontario construction worker; they were done in the interest of the Ontario Liberals and union bosses.

The “Working Families Coalition” is at it again this election – according to estimates, they are planning to spent up to $10 million of mandatory union dues on this round of American style personal attack ads.

This could be the reason that Hudak took it a step further and is campaigning on paycheck protection – or the right for union workers to opt out of having to contribute financially towards political causes they don’t support.  This type of legislation is needed in every province in Canada.

This right to disassociate financially from the political view of one’s union is just as important as the right to be part of that union or the fundamental right to association, which is guaranteed by the Charter.

Individual union members do not all support the same political parties or causes.  In fact, many unionized construction workers in Ontario will likely support Hudak and his PC Party in the next election.  These workers MUST be given the right to opt-out of paying dues that go towards the Ontario Liberals or other causes they do not believe in.

Imagine how you would feel if someone took a mandatory deduction from your paycheck to contribute to a political party you do not support?  It would not be accepted in a non-union setting and should no longer be tolerated in a unionized environment.

By introducing these policy pieces as part of his comprehensive “Changebook”, Hudak is showing the people of Ontario that he truly is ready to be the bold and deliberate leader they so desperately need.  He is proving that he understands what helping Ontario families ACTUALLY means and that he is willing to stand up for THEIR individual rights.

This is the kind of leadership Ontario needs and the kind of leadership that is needed across the country.

Kudos to Tim Hudak for putting forward a bold and ambitious policy agenda and best of luck in the next election – real working families across Ontario need your help.

PP

Habits

This blog was written on Thursday, June 2, 2011

AHHHH!

That is the sound of my abdominal muscles today as I sit at my desk and feel the burn from last night’s work out at World Health Club. It was my first time back at this whole fitness thing in a long while … last year was a great year for physical activity and Christina Rontynen. I was swimming, squashing, working out, attending fitness classes. I had made it a habit and a part of my routine.

Then life happened – as it does for all of us.

I was in the final stages of my thesis, on a job hunt and in the midst of starting my own company. Needless to say the end of the day was meant for sleeping and shutting my brain off. My habit of physical activity had been broken.

Over the last 5 months I have finally learned the concept of the “skinny jean”. I’ve never owned a pair of jeans that I wore on my “skinny” days – my jeans were my jeans. Now I have several pairs. Ha. And no … my “skinny” is not an unhealthy “skinny”. Like most over achieving young women I’ve been down that path and understand that healthy lifestyle and healthy weight are important.

All this being said yesterday marked the first day of starting new healthy habits. It was day 1 of … RONTYNEN GET BACK INTO SHAPE SO YOU CAN ENJOY LIFE. Yes, that’s me yelling at myself, drill sergeant style.

Habit is also the answer to the riddle that @ppilarski posted over the weekend.

Habits aren’t necessarily physical activity. They are anything from bad food habits (hopefully you’ve been following @Carter_BBold’s cleanse via twitter. Loving it. Especially last night’s mention of cheese platters everywhere) to bad work habits.

What habit are you going to strive to change? Let’s start an evolution & let’s have some fun this summer. Yes there is a lot going on … from festival season to political leadership races but don’t get too bogged down. Take my advice and take time to create healthy habits in your life and break the unhealthy ones … and remember to form some fun habits with your honeys’ too. @ppilarski is certainly joining me on the physical activity kick.

CR xo