WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The new Government of Alberta – following through on an election promise – has appointed a Royalty Review Panel to ensure Albertans get a fair price for their resources. As part of the review process the panel is encouraging Albertans to visit letstalkroyalties.ca where they can answer questions, submit comments, and engage with the panel. Working people have an enormous stake in these discussions. This is our opportunity to encourage the government to negotiate on our behalf to get the best possible framework for Albertans. We may never have another chance again, as panel chair Dave Mowat is on record saying that “we might never have another royalty review again.”
Riding-by-riding poll conducted by major national polling firm paints grim picture for majority of Edmontonians who want a change of government
Putting local job seekers first in line, but labour union says changes not enough
Employers looking to hire temporary foreign workers will now have to first secure a Labour Market Opinion and pay a corresponding processing fee of $275.
The announcement by Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney which came into effect on August 1, is part of measures which aim to ensure that employers hire locals first before considering foreign workers.
"Our government's number one priority remains jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity," said Kenney. "These additional reforms help ensure that Canadians are first in line for available jobs. They also ensure that taxpayers no longer pay the cost of processing employer applications for temporary foreign workers."
"Qualified Canadians, including new Canadians, should have first crack at available jobs," added Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. "These new measures demonstrate that our Government is committed to ensuring the Temporary Foreign Worker program functions as intended."
The processing fee requirement for employers will help curb unnecessary spending of taxpayer money, as was the case in 2012 when 60 percent of positive Labour Market Opinions did not lead to a work permit being issued to a temporary foreign worker, according to the government.
Aside from the LMO requirement, the revised Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations now defines a new language assessment factor that states English and French are the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement, both in LMO requests and in advertisements by employers applying to hire temporary foreign workers, unless employers can demonstrate that another language is essential for the job.
Job advertising requirements have also been extended from two to four weeks, while the 15 per cent pay gap for temporary foreign workers has also been eliminated, according to the government.
The government is also planning to implement rules on the cancellation of work permits as well as the suspension of LMO processing, and requiring employers to submit future plans for transitioning to local employees.
"The reforms announced today and in recent months further strengthen the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker program and ensure that more employers hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers," said Kenney. "These improvements help ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker program is only used as intended—to fill acute skills shortages on a temporary basis."
Meanwhile, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) warns that revisions to the foreign workers program will not be effective against employers who seek to exploit foreign workers.
The AFL, which has long been a critic of the program, says that the $275 Labour Market Opinion processing fee will only cost employers around three and a half cents each hour over the four-year course of a temporary foreign worker's employment duration.
"A lot of these low-wage employers in the service sector will happily pay that for a worker who is willing to work for less for years and is too vulnerable to complain. $275 is a drop in the bucket and will not provide a significant disincentive to any employers who are trying to keep wages low," said Gil McGowan, president of the AFL.
"Leaving the determination of whether TFWs are adversely affecting the economy in the hands of employers to see if Canadians are being displaced is laughable. Low-wage employers can't be relied upon to protect the public interest."
The topic of temporary foreign workers is now popular among politicians, with the number of immigrant workers shooting up to over 340,000 in just 10 years despite poor economic conditions and the number of unemployed locals looking for jobs.
Fanning the flames are reported cases of employers exploiting TFWs.
"The Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which has been greatly expanded since the Conservatives took power in 2006, is discredited, and has lost public support," McGowan said. "They're hoping these changes will make it palatable, but Canadians know exploitation when they see it. Canadians don't want to see the creation of a permanent non-voting underclass of workers who don't have the same rights as other residents of the country."
Beacon News online, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013
Byline: Kharl Prado
The provincial government's demand that Northern Gateway conduct full-scale unannounced marine emergency response drills is not practical, the pipeline company said in its final argument on Monday.
Northern Gateway lawyer Richard Neufeld told the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel that the number of people that need to be mobilized for a full-scale drill makes them difficult to co-ordinate logistically. He said it would be unfair to mobilize so many provincial and federal officials with no advance warning.
"[The full-scale drills are] beyond industry best practice," Neufeld said, noting that the company supports having unannounced drills for elements of its response plan.
B.C.'s chief legal strategist Geoff Plant said last week that the drills are necessary because at this point in time the province isn't sure if the plans the pipeline company has announced are feasible.
"The general concern all along has been that a lot of what has been put forward by Northern Gateway as evidence of their spill response capacity is more like plans than actual programs and some of the questions asked today is we actually wanted to test drive spill response plans to make sure they actually work," Plant said.
Twice during his final argument, Neufeld called on provincial officials to get together with the federal government and industry so the three groups can get on the same page regarding what's needed to make the marine response "world class."
Neufeld broke his nearly two-hour final argument into four themes: economic need for the pipeline; respect; the need for good science and balancing the public interest with regional effects.
He said the construction phase will generate 62,000 person years of employment and disputed claims by the Alberta Federation of Labour that those jobs were inconsequential in the long run.
"Those jobs will do more than provide a paycheque," Neufeld said. "It will provide income, enduring skills and more than that, hope."
In his section on respect, Neufeld said it was unfair that intervener groups had called Northern Gateway "dismissive, insulting and arrogant" during their final argument. Yet at the same time he consistently failed to identify Skeena-Bulkey Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen by name, referring to the pipeline opponent as "the politician who called in from Ottawa" on more than one occassion. Neufeld named all other interveners directly.
The good science category was taken up by rebuttals on the fate of diluted bitumen in water, the threat posed by geohazards along the proposed right of way and the effects of routine marine operations on wildlife.
"The Internet is full of publications not supported by science," Neufeld said.
In his final section, Neufeld took on the request made by some intervener groups that Northern Gateway use tougher pipe and apply multi-layer coatings to reduce the risk of a rupture.
Neufeld said the company is sticking to its plan to use category one pipe for most of the route and category two on certain areas where it's required. He didn't mention category three pipe at all.
Earlier Monday, Prince George engineer Chris Peter told the panel that Northern Gateway is saying one thing in its filing and saying something different to the media when Ray Doering, the company's manager of engineering, speculated to the Citizen last week that category three pipe is being considered.
"Would a trial lawyer be able to try his case in the press without making the same case in court?" Peter asked.
The three members of the panel, Hans Matthews, Kenneth Bateman and chairwoman Sheila Leggett concluded the hearings by offering their thanks to everyone who participated in the process.
"Everyone has worked to provide the panel with the best evidence possible and we thank you for that," Leggett said.
They will begin their deliberations shortly and provide recommendations to the federal cabinet by the end of the year.
The Prince George Citizen, Wednesday, June 27, 2013
Byline: Peter James
The Alberta Federation of Labour's Gil McGowan is calling on the federal government to extend EI coverage to all those affected by floods in Southern Alberta.
Only about 22% of unemployed Albertans are eligible for EI and the waiting period is 2 weeks.
McGowan is asking Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley to undertake a number of changes immediately including waiving all the waiting periods for those who qualify for benefits.
McGowan is also asking that EI benefits to small business owners affected by the flood be extended. He says many of the establishments under water in Calgary and surrounding communities, including High River, are in fact small businesses, therefore a special benefits class for small business owners whose businesses are not operational for up to four weeks should be created and all waiting periods should be waived.
McGowan says EI coverage to workers on commission and others, such as those who work for tips, who rarely qualify for EI, should be extended. Many of the workers affected by the floods are employed by small business and work on commission or for tips.
"The economic impact of this flood will be felt across Canada. The federal government should ensure no workers or small business owners are left out of reconstruction efforts," says McGowan.
"Almost all of Alberta's first responders are unions members and they're working hard in health care and emergency services delivery, remediation and restoration to help deal with the aftermath of the flood," says McGowan.
"We're hoping the federal government recognizes that not all workers have access to EI benefits. Extending them in these circumstances is the right thing to do for the people of Southern Alberta."
Okotos online, Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Byline: Dan Bascombe
TERRACE, B.C. — Enbridge Inc. shot back at critics of its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline Monday, arguing the project is making enormous and costly commitments to avoid accidents and that the biggest risk to the country is not approving it.
In its final words to a panel of regulators reviewing the project, Northern Gateway lawyer Richard Neufeld said Canada is vulnerable to its only market, the United States, deciding it no longer wants Canadian oil.
"You want to see an economic Black Swan for Canada?" Mr. Neufeld said in addressing fears the pipeline exposes the country to an unpredictable event of massive proportions.
"How about a decision from the U.S. that it will no longer need Canadian oil? ... The $30-billion in export price discounting ... would be a drop in the bucket. Canadians would be facing, we suggest, an economic catastrophe of unprecedented proportion."
After a massive review that reached out to communities along Northern Gateway's proposed right of way from Edmonton to the Northern West Coast, proponents and critics of the oil sands pipeline are presenting their closing oral arguments in this picturesque frontier town about an hour's drive from Kitimat, its endpoint.
In a packed banquet room in the town's main hotel, Mr. Neufeld dismissed the most common criticism of the project — that Enbridge hasn't provided enough information about its risks and the benefits for regulators to approve it.
Participants hold signs in Terrace, B.C., during an anti-pipeline protest, on Sunday June 16, 2013.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland
"Given the volume of information that comprises the hearing record, it's an argument that appears quite hollow to use," Mr. Neufeld said.
"No amount of additional ... information would persuade any member of the tar sands campaign to support a pipeline such as this. They are never going to say that enough information has been provided."
There were no demonstrations at the start of the hearings, although a rally in opposition to the pipeline was held on Sunday in a local park.
The three-member Joint Review Panel of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is expected to wrap up the hearings in two weeks and make a recommendation to the federal government by Dec. 31 on whether the project is in the public interest.
Mr. Neufeld said the project has presented a path forward to address many of the concerns raised during the review, from the potential of an oil spill on land or in the ocean, to engagement with First Nations, and urged the panel to approve it.
"Tradeoffs are a fact of life," he said. "That does not mean that any person or community or region must be marginalized.... all it means is that in determining public interest we need to seek the balance that respects local interests, plans that deliver benefits to local communities, while still ensure that the projects that are needed for this country will proceed. We suggest that this project respect that balance."
But Art Sterritt, representing the province's Coastal First Nations, said Enbridge has failed to show the benefits are greater than the costs and the risks and approval would lead to "nothing but conflict.
"Remember this," he warned panel chair Sheila Leggett.
"Despite the hundreds of millions and effort by the proponents, B.C. First Nations and all of the public of B.C. have rejected this project ... I have never witnessed a project that has garnered such opposition, never in the history of B.C. I don't envy the position that you are in."
Up next are the Alexander First Nation, the Alberta Federation of Labour, B.C. Nature and Nature Canada, and then the province of British Columbia. These are all expected to present Monday.
Ottawa Citizen, Monday, June 17, 2013
Byline: Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post
The Alberta Federation of Labour gave its final arguments against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline on Monday, begging the joint review panel to reject the project.
At a hearing in Terrace, B.C., AFL president Gil McGowan argued Gateway will hurt Canada's economy, creating few jobs locally and more jobs in Chinese refineries.
"The proponents of this project have compared the pipeline to the (Canadian Pacific Railway) and called it an important piece of Canadian infrastructure. But the Northern Gateway pipeline is a piece of Chinese infrastructure, not Canadian infrastructure," said McGowan.
"The ownership structure of the pipeline shows that the project will benefit China's state-owned oil companies, shipping good-paying oilsands jobs to Asia."
McGowan states the pipeline will create only 228 permanent jobs and 1,500 temporary construction jobs during a three year period. He also argues that the pipeline will drive up operating costs for Canadian refineries by more than $800 million.
The AFL is not opposed to selling oilsands product to lucrative Asian markets, says McGowan. Instead, McGowan favours refining bitumen in Alberta before selling it to foreign markets. The labour orgainization estimates that at least 26,000 Canadian jobs would be created if bitumen sold to China was refined in Alberta.
"If we want Cadillac prices for our resources, then we have to sell a Cadillac product," said McGowan.
"That means selling upgraded bitumen, called synthethic crude, rather than raw bitumen. Some country is going to capture the value and create the jobs. We think that country should be Canada, not China."
The AFL represents 160,000 Alberta workers, including 25,000 in energy and energy-related construction.
The Monday hearings were the final arguments to either supporting or denouncing the $6.5 billion pipeline that, if approved, will link the oilsands to the B.C. coast. From a port in Kitimat, bitumen will be loaded onto tankers heading to California and Asia, on the B.C. coast.
The largest hurdle is a coalition of aboriginal groups who argue they were poorly consulted by Enbridge, and that the pipeline will run through territory seen as culturally vital.
Enbridge and company supporters have spent approximately $500 million on environmental and engineering studies, as well as public and aboriginal consultations for the project. Enbridge also argues B.C.'s oil and gas industry could gain more than $18 billion in additional investments if the project is approved.
The joint review panel is expected to finish the hearings within two weeks and make a recommendation on the project's future to the federal government by Dec. 31.
Supreme Court says Irving pulp mill's random testing policy has 'severe' impact on privacy
The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a company's right to impose mandatory, random alcohol testing on its unionized workers in a dangerous workplace.
In a 6-3 decision released on Friday, the court ruled the policy unilaterally adopted by Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. in Saint John in 2006 for employees in safety sensitive positions is unreasonable.
The Supreme Court of Canada says random alcohol testing by an employer is only justified in certain circumstances.
A dangerous workplace is not automatic justification for random testing, the court ruled in the case, which dealt narrowly with unionized workers and management's ability to balance privacy rights with the need for safety in dangerous workplaces.
The decision says dangerousness of a workplace only justifies testing particular employees in certain circumstances:
- Where there are reasonable grounds to believe an employee was impaired while on duty.
- Where an employee was directly involved in a workplace accident or significant incident.
- Where the employee returns to work after treatment for substance abuse.
"It has never, to my knowledge, been held to justify random testing, even in the case of 'highly safety sensitive' or 'inherently dangerous' workplaces like railways (Canadian National) and chemical plants (DuPont Canada Inc. and C.E.P., Loc. 28-0 (Re)(2002), 105 L.A.C. (4th) 399), or even in workplaces that pose a risk of explosion (ADM Agri-Industries), in the absence of a demonstrated problem with alcohol use in that workplace."
The case stems from a 2006 grievance filed by Local 30 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), at the Irving mill.
"We respect the decision," Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith said in a brief emailed statement.
"We will be reviewing the decision and have no further comment at this time," she said.
"Our focus has and continues to be the safety of our co-workers and communities where we have operations."
Could affect Alberta Suncor caseDavid Coles, the national president of CEP, said the ruling is "very clear" and believes it will help resolve a similar dispute in Alberta.
Suncor Energy is trying to bring in a random drug and alcohol testing program for employees and contractors at its oilsands operations in Fort McMurray.
"As clear as it is written... if someone was to have random drug testing, they would have a fairly high bar to cross before they would be able to, I believe, get it past the judiciary because there just isn't any evidence at all that it affects the outcome at work," said Coles.
"The fundamental issue here is there's absolutely no evidence presented here or anywhere else that random drug testing increases the safety in any operation," he said.
"So it turns out to be nothing more than an invasion of ones' privacy with no net gain for the consequence of safety."
Coles said the union is opposed to anyone using any kind of alcohol or drug at work, but contends substance abuse is a societal issue that must be dealt with, not a workplace issue to be legislated.
"Stop spending so much money trying to beat on blue collar workers and get to the problem," he said. "You don't see random drug testing in downtown Toronto in the big white towers... And please don't tell me that the incidence of drug and alcohol abuse is any different in Fort McMurray than it is on Bay Street."
The Alberta Federation of Labour, which was an intervener in the Irving case, also believes the decision could influence the Suncor arbitration, said president Gil McGowan.
"Employers simply have to demonstrate there's a problem with drug abuse or alcohol abuse in the workplace before they can move ahead with these kind of arbitrary random drug testing regimes, but it's clear the employer didn't prove that and we would argue that they haven't been able to prove that in Suncor either. So we're very pleased with the decision."
The court found the Irving policy had been properly rejected by a labour arbitration board.
"In this case, the expected safety gains to the employer were found by the board to range from uncertain to minimal, while the impact on employee privacy was severe," the decision states.
Irving "exceeded the scope of its management rights under a collective agreement by imposing random alcohol testing in the absence of evidence of a workplace problem with alcohol use."
The court awarded "costs throughout" to CEP.
Daniel Leger, a lawyer representing the union, declined to discuss the amount involved, citing attorney-client privilege.
But he said the judgment will allow the union to recoup some of its legal costs in the seven-year dispute.
The decision from the top court could have broad implications. It is considered a national test case for how far an employer can go when it comes to a worker's right to privacy.
It attracted numerous interveners, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian National Railway Company, Via Rail Canada, the Canadian Mining Association, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), which describes itself as the largest industry and trade association.
Ian Howcroft, vice-president for the Ontario division of the CME, said it's "unfortunate" the Supreme Court did not uphold a company's right to do random testing.
But "it's encouraging the judgment did not close the door completely and companies may still be able to do some testing in certain circumstances," Howcroft said.
He maintains companies should have everything at their disposal to ensure the workplace is free of hazards.
Lawyer argues reasonable cause needed for testing
Irving Pulp and Paper Mill in Saint John had unilaterally adopted a policy of mandatory random alcohol testing for employees in safety-sensitive positions in 2006.
The Supreme Court heard arguments last December, but reserved its decision.
Fredericton-based lawyer David Mombourquette, who was representing the CEP, had argued a breathalyzer is an involuntary submission of bodily fluids and amounts to a high level of random personal intrusion.
Testing should only be permitted when there is reasonable cause, such as slurred speech or the smell of alcohol, he had said.
But the Irving company's lead counsel, Neil Finkelstein, had argued the policy is justified because the mill is full of hazardous chemicals, flammable substances, heavy rotating equipment, a 13,000-volt electrical system and a $350-million high-pressure boiler.
In addition, the mill had a history of drinking being a problem, he had said, citing eight documented incidents between 1991 and 2006, when the random testing policy was implemented.
In March of that year, millwright Perley Dey's name was randomly selected by a computer program to take a breathalyzer test.
Dey said he took the test because he was afraid of losing his job. The test showed a blood alcohol level of zero.
But Dey, who describes himself as a religious man who doesn't drink, said the test was humiliating and unfair.
An arbitration board allowed the grievance, ruling Irving had failed to establish a need for the policy. But a New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench judge reversed that decision, which the union appealed.
The New Brunswick Court of Appeal dismissed the grievance in 2011, ruling the mill qualifies as an inherently dangerous workplace. The union appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
CBC News, Friday, June 14, 2013
Another week, another RCMP scandal.
On Tuesday, Staff Sgt. Caroline O'Farrell, one of the first women to join the force's storied equestrian show, the Musical Ride, launched an $8-million lawsuit claiming that the RCMP did not properly investigate her allegations of relentless, repeated abuse.
In what sounds like juvenile, cruel bullying and assault that is commonly committed by the dumb kids in junior high, O'Farrell was subjected to painful and humiliating hazing rituals.
Her statement of claim states that she was repeatedly soaked with cold water and then dragged by her arms and legs face down through the horse stall shavings, which included horse manure and urine.
Other than moving her out of the Musical Ride detail, nothing happened to those who assaulted her. O'Farrell has named the Attorney General of Canada and 13 RCMP officers, including senior officers whom she claims continue to work for the RCMP today in senior positions, in the lawsuit. They got promotions, she got shipped off.
It's important to note that most RCMP officers are honourable and dedicated, but there are simply too many dishonourable members.
These ostensibly endless scandals seem to fall into four main categories:
* botched, incompetent investigations that allow criminals to commit or continue their crimes for too long (such as serial killer Willie Pickton and the Air India bombers);
* incompetent investigations that wrongly accuse innocent people (such as the wild horse case near Sundre and the Canmore daycare case);
* the unwarranted brutality by RCMP members against unarmed civilians (such as Robert Dziekanski, who was Tasered to death in Vancouver, and Buddy Tavares, a compliant, helpless brain-injured Kelowna man who was kicked in the face by RCMP officer Geoff Mantler); and
* the sexual harassment of female RCMP members by their colleagues and supervisors.
Better training and better recruitment criteria could help fix the first two problems; harsher penalties, including criminal charges and real time behind bars, might help the third; but perhaps the easiest problem to fix is the fourth — the sexual harassment and bullying of female officers, and sometimes even male officers, by Neanderthal supervisors and bully colleagues. In short, the solution to the toxic harassment issue within the RCMP can be summed up in one word: union.
Not being a big fan of unions, this solution is not an easy one to advocate for. But a high-ranking Calgary Police Service officer mentioned the solution to me many months ago, and as each case of harassment was revealed and I applied the union solution to it, the more it seemed to make sense.
Currently, RCMP officers being harassed on the job have no one to turn to without risking their own career rise, since case after case shows that it was often the officer's direct supervisor or someone even higher up the ranks who was the problem.
Consider Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the official spokesperson for the RCMP in B.C. during the Pickton investigation. She alleges that her bosses and superiors exposed themselves to her and extorted sex from her.
After Galliford, who suffers from post-traumatic stress, launched a lawsuit against the RCMP, a veritable flood of complaints and lawsuits followed.
O'Farrell is just one. More than 300 other former women RCMP officers are also suing the force in a class-action lawsuit. The lead plaintiff in that suit is Janet Merlo, who worked as an RCMP constable in Nanaimo, B.C., from 1991 to 2010. In her statement of claim, Merlo alleges she "was subject to persistent and ongoing gender-based discrimination and harassment by individual male members during the time she served as a constable."
For instance, the supervising corporal on Merlo's night shift watch commented to Wayne Merlo (who was then her boyfriend, but became her husband) "words to the effect 'Janet is perfect ... Janet is the right height because you can lay a six-pack of beer on her head while she gives you a blow job.'"
She had dildos placed in her work files and was berated for getting pregnant. Reached recently in Newfoundland, where she recently moved, Merlo says she believes a union would have solved many of her problems.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan, not surprisingly, agrees that a union for the RCMP would solve many of the force's issues with regard to sexual assaults and harassment.
"A union would help civilize the workplace, and over time, would eliminate the problem," said McGowan.
"When people think of unions, they think first about the wages and benefits that we've been able to negotiate for our members, and certainly we're proud of those achievements, but one of the most important benefits that unions provide is access to a grievance procedure," said McGowan.
He points out that the union rep cannot be fired or reprimanded for taking on a complaint. As he notes, the most dysfunctional police service in the country is the RCMP, and it is the only one — as far as he knows — that does not have a union.
As the next RCMP harassment scandal is revealed, and the next, and the next, imagine what a codified grievance procedure would do. It would, over time, help rub off some of the layers of tarnish on the country's most iconic but discredited and scandalized police force.
Licia Corbella is a columnist and the editorial page editor. email@example.com
The Calgary Herald, Saturday, May 25, 2013
Editorial byline: Licia Corbella
Ever wonder how the world's oil tycoons feel about the royalty they are charged by the Alberta government? Movie theatre-goers can find out this month.
A 30-second commercial, which pokes fun at what Alberta charges oil companies in royalties, is running in theatres across the province this month - and while the ad is supposed to be cheeky and fun, it also carries a serious message, says the creator.
The ad features an older gentleman in an opulent office (complete with gold bars on his desk), being served an ice cream topped with gold sprinkles.
"Hello Albertans! I would like to thank you personally for making me so incredibly wealthy," he begins.
"Charging me next to nothing in taxes and royalties to dig your oil really helped out.
"And your province's government's underfunding of health care and education, so I could make even more millions," he adds.
The ad concludes with the tag line: "Alberta shouldn't be running out of money for essential services."
The commercial was produced for the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) by Better Way Alberta - a coalition that includes the AFL and Public interest Alberta - as a response to recent cuts in the provincial budget.
AFL President Gil McGowan told the Edmonton Journal the organization wants to create discussion about Alberta's low tax and royalty rates.
"What we were hoping to do with the ad, and the campaign that it's a part of, is to start a conversation with Albertans and public policy-makers about how we pay for our public services," he said.
"In a province as wealthy as Alberta, why the heck do we have a deficit in the first place?" McGowan asked in an interview with CBC Calgary.
The character in the ad has a Transylvanian accent. This choice was made partly to not "pick on anyone," McGowan told CBC, but also because the AFL feels "these oil companies — no matter where they're from — are sucking the blood out of the Alberta economy."
The $185,000 campaign, which was produced by Calgary-based Scott Communications and filmed at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary, will also feature three radio spots. They have not yet aired, but you can listen to them below.