Labour leader represents 25,000 oil sands workers in Alberta
CALGARY – In a keynote address to academics at the University of Calgary, Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan today said that instead of vilifying federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair , Albertans should thank him for igniting a useful and long overdue debate on the pace of development in the oil sands (click here for backgrounder).
McGowan welcomed Mulcair's view that Canadians need to have a full discussion about the future of our most important natural resource and biggest economic driver.
"The oil sands are crucially important to the economy. That's why we can't afford to get it wrong. And we are getting it wrong," says McGowan.
McGowan says the wild-west pace of development in the oil sands is driving up the Canadian dollar, creating a labour shortage, driving up costs for business, and creating an unbalanced economy. Government failure to capture appropriate royalties makes the situation worse.
The President of the AFL – which represents 145,000 Albertans, 25,000 of whom work in the oil sands and energy-related construction – says Mulcair was vilified by Conservative politicians using what McGowan calls "bully economics" tactics.
"Critics have tried to dismiss Mulcair as an outsider who doesn't understand our province or the oil sands. But the truth is that many knowledgeable and thoughtful Albertans share his concerns," says McGowan.
"Let's be clear: no one in this conversation is objecting to development in the oil sands. Not Thomas Mulcair, not the Alberta Federation of Labour and certainly not a number of conservative economists and former PC politicians who share many of our concerns. We're not questioning the wisdom of developing the oil sands. What we're questioning is the current wild-west model for development – the pace of development. Surely we all benefit when we can have a thoughtful discussion about pace."
"I'm an Albertan. A proud Albertan," concluded McGowan. "As Tom Mulcair visits Alberta tomorrow, I want to be the first to welcome the conversation he started about the oil sands. Let's have a clear-eyed conversation about the current development model in the oil sands, and be open to the idea that we can put Albertans – and Canadians – before international oil companies in how we develop this important resource."
For more information call: Gil McGowan, President @ 780-218-9888 (cell) or 780-483-3021 (office).