AFL calls for independent review of shady lobbying activity by construction industry executives
Edmonton – Secret documents suggest Alberta's construction industry is exerting undue influence on government decisions.
In the correspondence (see link below), obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) under Freedom of Information legislation, a representative of a coalition of construction companies and anti-union contractors lobbied Premier Alison Redford by linking large political donations to political promises to revise Alberta’s labour code.
“Albertans deserve to know that their government is making decisions independent of undue influence, and that our elected officials are using their power to promote the public interest, not to advance the private interests of friends and political supporters,” AFL president Gil McGowan said.
At issue in the documents is pressure from construction industry lobbyists to re-open the debate on Alberta's labour code, and to make changes in favour of employers.
“Albertans should be concerned about the methods used by the lobbyists, and the apparent willingness of top officials to give preferential treatment to groups that make significant political donations,” McGowan said.
The correspondence involves dozens of e-mails and letters between ministers, premiers, their offices, and lobbyists for the Construction Competitiveness Coalition (CCC), a coalition of large non-union construction companies. All but one of the lobbyists are unregistered.
“If this is happening with one area of legislation, we have to wonder who’s giving the marching orders when the province looks at legislation in other areas like consumer protection, environmental regulation, energy policy and safety standards,” McGowan said.
In light of the contents of the documents, the AFL is calling for the labour code review to be shelved immediately.
“These e-mails suggest that some people in power aren't maintaining the wall that needs to exist between government and groups that seek to influence government,” McGowan said. “As a result, democracy in Alberta is not as strong as it needs to be.”
One of the changes sought by senior executives of construction companies would make it difficult for unions to engage in political action, including legitimate, arms-length lobbying.
“Do we have a government that represents citizens, or is this a government of big business, by big business and for big business?” McGowan asks. “Albertans deserve answers, and the only way they’ll get those answers is through an independent investigation. And it needs to be an investigation conducted by the courts, not just the Ethics Commissioner or the Lobbyist Registrar because they're both agents of the Legislature.”
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email email@example.com.