EDMONTON - For 16-year-old Mitchell Tanner, last summer's full-time gig at Rona was the real deal.
"Mitchie had had jobs before, but this was his first actual job,'" said Marjorie Adams, the young man's aunt.
"He was really excited."
The Grade 10 student was working only his second shift as a foot soldier in the lumberyard when he hopped on a forklift driven by one of his friends and co-workers. The 2,300-kilogram machine, not meant to carry passengers, tipped over and crushed him.
By the time paramedics arrived , he was dead.
The teenager's death on June 7 was one of 23 workplace deaths this year, compared to 25 for this same time last year. The total number of deaths for all of 2007 was 47.
"He was just being a kid," Adams said softly, the pain evident in her voice.
Adams' husband, Kim, a longtime welder by trade, shook his head when he heard the news.
He had made his own mistakes early in his career. "He's 40-something years old; he's been doing it forever," said Adams, then paused.
"But when you're young and stupid, you just don't understand safety."
An advertising campaign launched this week is intended to drive that message home, reminding teenagers in the workforce that injuries and fatalities can be moments away.
Typically, autumn is a more hazardous time for workers, especially those in the oil and gas industry.
"Generally, activity increases when companies are trying to wrap up before winter sets in," Employment and Immigration spokesman Barrie Harrison.
"There's a lot of machinery being moved prior to frost."
The online safety campaign -- at www.bloodylucky.ca -- focuses particularly on workers between the ages of 15 and 19.
It has come under attack from critics who say the online spots, each one depicting a gory on-the-job accident that is seemingly the fault of a worker's carelessness, misses the mark.
"Accidents are not caused by one action," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said.
"Injuries are caused by a series of poor decisions by both the employer and worker.
"Lack of training, rushed pace of work, and cutting safety corners lead to injuries -- a point completely missed by these ads."
Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister Hector Goudreau said the campaign is meant to educate and protect teenagers on the job, whom he described as "the most vulnerable" segment of the workforce.
They're also growing fast, especially in Alberta's still thriving economy.
Between 1998 and 2007, the number of 15- to 19-year-olds employed in the province grew almost 23 per cent.
In the past five years, 11 in that age group died in workplace fatalities, a number which includes two deaths in 2008; a 19-year-old oil rig worker in Provost and Mitchell Tanner.
"We want to get to young workers when they're first entering the workforce so that they understand that they're not invincible, for starters," Harrison said.
"We also want to let them know they have the right -- some would say the responsibility and the obligation -- to refuse unsafe work.
"We want to instil a culture that will stay with them for their entire working life."
The construction and construction trades industry, where approximately 10 per cent of young workers are employed, remains the most dangerous, with most accidents caused by slips, trips and falls.
"Twenty years ago, when it was make as much money as you can and damn the consequences, Alberta's construction industry's lost-time claim rate was 20 times what it is today," Harrison said.
"Today, there's much more of a feeling of, yes make as much money as you can, but it's even more important that everyone stays safe and goes home at the end of the day.
"There's no point in having a big paycheque if you're not around to enjoy it."
Workplace accident numbers overall, which are compiled by the Workers' Compensation Board, have been declining in recent years.
So far this year, about 135,500 claims have been registered with the WCB, compared to 175,297 for all of 2007 and 181,159 for 2006.
Harrison said some of the credit for the decline goes to the Alberta Construction Safety Association, which was established 20 years ago to address the problem.
Since then, the association has devoted itself to improving workplace health and safety through education and training, both on-site and in the classroom.
In 1996, about 4,500 workers went through some form of training program with the association, it's closer to 100,000 today.
That number includes high school students who may be pondering a career in construction.
The association goes into schools to make presentations, talking to students -- particularly those in Grade 12 -- about things such as hazard assessments and proper tool usage.
"We want to talk to them before they finish school so they're prepared before they get to the job site," said Robin Kotyk, the association's chief operating officer .
"It's not just about how much money am I going to make, it's about what kind of protective equipment will I need, what kind of tools will I be operating and do I need any special training, those kinds of things."
This fall, the association broadened its scope, introducing a program aimed and owners and CEOs of companies.
"It's about letting them know that if something happens on your job site, you're going to be held responsible," Kotyk said.
"It's about developing the safety culture of the organization."
Marjorie Adams just wants to know that something positive ultimately can come from her nephew's death.
"We all miss him, you know," she said.
"He was such a wonderful kid."
Edmonton Journal, Sat Nov 1 2008
Byline: Jamie Hall
Jason Reid covered his face as he heard the bone cracking and saw the leg breaking at the ankle.
The worker-safety video may be a dramatization, but it was based on a forklift mishap that really happened to a lumber-yard worker, Reid and his classmates were told.
"It kind of made me cringe right up," the Grade 12 student at Bert Church High School in Airdrie said, after watching six graphic online ads in a multimedia campaign the province released online.
Other ads showed a teen slicing his fingers while carelessly chopping parsley, one getting scalded by a deep-fryer, and another slamming to the floor after climbing a shoe-store ladder in high heels.
"Blood's not so bad for me," Reid said. "Broken bones, I find painful to watch. It seemed really lifelike, and likely -- but definitely avoidable."
That's roughly the reaction Alberta Employment officials are hoping for: a dash of shock and a dollop of realization that preventable accidents happen when workers aren't careful. The ministry's Karen MacDonald told Reid's apprenticeship training class that on an average day, six young workers suffer an injury that keeps them from going to work the next day.
Nick Strong, also in the class, recalled seeing an industrial drill break a co-worker's jaw. The 17-year-old is grateful he's learning about safety in school, but said many colleagues don't understand workplace risks.
"A lot of people just show up there and they don't have a lot of common sense. They don't have experience," he said.
The $850,000 Bloodylucky.ca campaign was ready to launch a year ago, but Conservative MLAs opposed the graphic images, so it was shelved.
Since then, the government conducted focus-group research with teens, and slightly retooled the campaign without toning down the bloody content that gives the videos a 14-A rating, government spokesman Barrie Harrison said. Viewers aged 15 and 16 said they couldn't believe the scenarios were realistic -- and then were shocked when told they had actually happened, Harrison said.
Older teens, meanwhile, often have more job experience and understand how real the risks are, he said.
Governments from Australia to Ontario and Quebec have launched similar TV campaigns designed to grab viewers' attention.
Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour said the ads unfairly depict young workers as stupid, and pay little attention to the employer's responsibilities.
Calgary Herald, Thurs Oct 30 2008
Byline: Jason Markusoff
A labour group is giving Alberta's video campaign aimed at reducing injuries among young workers the thumbs down.
The $850,000 campaign features six graphic videos of young workers getting hurt on the job, including a grocery clerk cutting off his fingers in a slicing machine.
The Alberta Federation of Labour says the videos send the message that workers are solely responsible for such injuries. President Gil McGowan says the videos should also emphasize that managers must ensure employees are properly trained and supervised.
Edmonton Sun Online, Thurs Oct 30 2008
EDMONTON - A labour group is giving Alberta's gory video campaign aimed at reducing injuries among young workers the thumbs down.
The $850,000 government campaign features six graphic videos of young workers getting hurt on the job, including a grocery clerk cutting off his fingers in a slicing machine, complete with lots of fake blood.
The Alberta Federation of Labour said Wednesday that it supports using edgy videos to reach young people, but it is wrong to send the message that workers are solely responsible for such injuries.
The videos should also emphasize that managers must ensure that employees are properly trained and supervised, and that young people must understand that they have the legal right to refuse unsafe work.
"Injuries are caused by a series of poor decisions by both the employer and worker," federation president Gil McGowan said. "Lack of training, rushed pace of work and cutting safety corners lead to injuries - a point completely missed by these ads."
In Alberta, young people make up 17 per cent of the work force but account for almost one-quarter of disabled injury claims.
McGowan said Ontario has done a better job of reaching out to young workers because its ads highlight how employer decisions and worker decisions combine to cause accidents.
In one Ontario ad, a dead electrical worker rises from his coffin to proclaim "Accident? What are you talking about? Your company never fully trained me to work on high voltage wires." The corpse also regrets not using his safety equipment.
"The Ontario campaign is much more effective because it tries to convey a full message about how to prevent accidents. Alberta should have adopted their approach," he said.
The Ontario ads can be seen at www.prevent-it.ca.
The Institute for Work and Health has found that only about one in five employees in Canada receives safety training during the first year with a new employer.
More than 50,000 workers under the age of 24 lost time from work after being injured on the job in 2006, according to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada. Another 51 died at work.
The real injury numbers are higher because many mishaps go unreported, experts say.
660News, Wed Oct 29 2008
An inquiry into the death of a man killed while working on a farm two years ago will open today -- a hearing labour officials hope will highlight the "deeply flawed" workplace safety legislation in the province.
The inquiry -- scheduled for two days in Okotoks -- will examine the events surrounding the death of Kevan Chandler, who was buried under grain on June 18, 2006, while working at Tongue Creek Feeders in High River.
At the time, Chandler's widow, Lorna, wrote an open letter to Premier Ralph Klein asking to change workplace legislation to include farms, saying safety rules would have saved her husband's life.
While the aim of fatality inquiries is for a judge to make recommendations to prevent similar incidents, the
Alberta Federation of Labour hopes it will bring about substantive changes to farm worker safety in Alberta.
"Alberta is still in the 19th century when it comes to workplace rights for farm workers," federation president Gil McGowan said Tuesday.
"We're hoping the inquiry will find that the system for ensuring workplace health and safety for farmers is deeply flawed."
According to the Alberta Farm Safety Centre, farmers are five times more likely to die from a work-related incident than workers in all other industries.
Last year 12 people died in such incidents -- eight fewer than in 2006, when Chandler was killed.
But under current provincial legislation, farming-related deaths and injuries do not fall under workplace health and safety legislation, following an exemption made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1977.
The farm safety co-ordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development said the legislation exempts any primary agriculture, such as raising livestock or crops.
However, value-added farm industries -- nurseries, greenhouses and mushroom farms, for example -- are included, Laurel Aitken said.
It's a difficult area for the safety act to cover because the farm is sometimes a combination of a workplace and a home.
"No one comes into your home and says, 'Why are you using the ladder you did to clean out the eavestroughs?' " she said. "It's a very grey area in terms of where does the home end and the farm start."
McGowan, however, said there is no excuse for why people like Chandler don't have the same rights and protections as workers in other industries.
"It's not clear that extending workplace safety to farm workers would have saved Kevan's life, but it may have," he said.
The fact that Chandler's death has led to a fatality inquiry is largely owed to work done by his widow, said McGowan.
"She refused to let the issue die," he said.
Still, said Liberal MLA David Swann, the inquiry is coming more than two years after Chandler died.
Swann, who has spoken out often about the discrepancy in workplace safety legislation when it comes to farm workers, said an inquiry should be held for every farming-related death.
In discussions with Albertans, he said, people ask if the province ensures healthy, equal working conditions for all workers in the province.
"We have to say no. There is a unique experience for farm workers in this province," he said.
Calgary Herald, Wed Oct 22 2008
Byline: Gwendolyn Richards
The return of a Tory minority government to Ottawa does not mean much of anything new for construction, say some industry officials.
"Things have not changed that much," said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).
"From a lobbying perspective, in a minority government, you do have to focus more on the opposition parties and committees are more important too."
The Conservatives are returning to the House of Commons with 143 MPs, but needed 155 seats to form a majority. The Liberals lost several seats while the NDP increased their seat count.
"They may have rearranged the deck chairs a little bit, but it is essentially more of the same," said Jeff Morrison, president and COO of the Association of Canadian Engineering Companies (ACEC).
Another Conservative minority is good news for some in the construction industry.
"We are quite excited about what the Conservatives announced during the campaign for completion incentives for apprentices to become journeymen," said Stephen Kushner, president of Merit Contractors Association Alberta.
"We think they were good providing support for apprentices and tool purchases in the last two years."
The Conservatives promised a $2,000 completion bonus for apprentices, who finish an apprenticeship program in a nationally recognized trade.
"From a western Canadian perspective there were concerns about the carbon tax and the oil patch as far as what impact it would have on jobs," he said.
"Today, we are not dealing with so much uncertainty."
However, the return of a Conservative government isn't music to the ears of everyone.
"Parties at the federal level will have to find a way to co-operate to keep the conservatives out," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"There is no way the Conservatives should be in power with only 30 per cent of the popular vote. It's perverse that the prime minister has been rejected by two-thirds of the voters." The Conservatives received 37.6 per cent of the popular vote, with the Liberals getting 26.2 per cent and the NDP 18.2 per cent.
A labour leader from B.C. agreed with McGowan that this election will fundamentally change voting patterns in Canada.
"In the absence of a proportional representation system, trading and strategic voting will become more important moving forward," said Wayne Peppard, executive director of the BC Yukon Territory Building Construction Trade Council.
He said that infrastructure funding remains a priority.
"Major infrastructure projects got the economy off the ground in B.C., so the crucial concern for the construction industry is will funds be available for plans going forward," he said.
Journal of Commerce, Mon Oct 20 2008
Byline: Vince Versace
Lots Of Talk, Not A Lot Of Decisions: The annual Alberta Liberal convention revealed a party still reluctant to act boldly
It was a tale of two parties last weekend as supporters of both the Alberta Progressive Conservatives and Liberals gathered for their annual general meeting and conventions. As Ed Stelmach and his long-ruling Tories nestled themselves in the seclusion of the pristine Rocky Mountains while holding their convention in the posh Jasper Park Lodge, the less-financially-endowed Alberta Liberals opted for a more modest (and affordable) venue: a hotel on Stony Plain Road in west Edmonton.
The Alberta Liberals were only able to attract about 200 supporters (a notably small gathering for a major political party) from across the province to Edmonton in order to elect a new party executive and discuss the direction of their party over the Oct. 4 weekend. It was quite a contrast to conventions not too long ago where Liberal activists seriously talked about dislodging the 37-year old PC dynasty.
At the same time as the leadership race is moving forward, a larger and arguably more important discussion is happening about the Liberals' future, and it had a prominent spot at the "Turning Point" convention.
The first morning of the convention saw Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan make a plea for cooperation between the Liberals and New Democrats. McGowan's proposal was similar to the one recently voted down by New Democrats at their recent convention. Though McGowan's proposal did not go to a vote, it generated quite a bit of discussion throughout the weekend.
Later that day, Lougheed-era cabinet minister-turned-Liberal supporter David King moderated one of the weekend's more popular discussion sessions, during which he asked delegates to think about and discuss everything from changing the Liberal name to finding new ways of rebuilding constituency and party organizations, to even starting a new party altogether. There was little consensus, however, between the diehard Liberals supporters and more open-minded progressives, so it's too soon to tell whether the Liberal Party will move forward or continue its traditional approach to Alberta politics.
Opinion was also split among the leadership candidates on the future direction of the Alberta Liberals. Candidates Dave Taylor and Mo Elsalhy have positioned themselves as protectors of the Liberal brand, and Taylor has even gone so far as to position himself as the "unapologetic Liberal" of the race. On the opposite side of the discussion is Calgary MLA David Swann, who is unapologetic about admitting the toxicity of the Liberal brand in Alberta. Since the March provincial election, Swann has hosted a series of town hall meetings across Alberta and talked publicly about changing the party name and leading the party in a different direction.
I'm sympathetic to Swann's argument. With their party swimming in debt and receiving a 20-year low in popular support in the last election, Alberta Liberal supporters should not be afraid to embrace the discussions that occurred this past weekend. They should also remember that with the Tories approaching their 40th anniversary in government, Albertans who are serious about changing how this province is governed need to start thinking and acting outside the box. Many Alberta Liberals are proud of having served as a strong opposition in the past, but even with a popular leader like former Edmonton mayor Laurence Decore, they have never succeeded in overcoming the PC political machine. It is easy to rest on your ideological laurels, but it is just as important to remember that it's not impossible for a young, energetic thinker to come out of nowhere and sweep the traditional parties to the sidelines, much like Peter Lougheed did 37 years ago.
See Magazine, Thurs Oct 9 2008
Byline: Dave Cournoyer
Recent election promises by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper focusing on oilsands irritated two labour groups fighting for Canadian job, and energy, security.
Both the national Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) claim Harper continues to ignore Canadian national energy security, and the jobs pouring out of the country.
Prohibiting bitumen exports to countries without equivalent emission reduction targets, and continuing to promote the development of northern pipelines to bring oil and gas to markets in Canada and throughout the world were among election promises for a re-elected Tory leadership.
"Throughout Canada?" questioned Dave Coles, national CEP president. "(Harper) refuses to even enter a debate about having a pipeline from western Canada to (refineries) ... in Sarnia and Montreal."
AFL president Gil McGowan added "if Stephen Harper was really concerned about keeping oilsands jobs in Alberta, then he would have talked about restrictions of unrefined bitumen to the United States. This promise won't do that."
What the promise will do is result in jobs continuing to flow south to the American midwest and Gulf coast along what McGowan has called a "bitumen superhighway."
All Harper's statement does is "enshrine a continental energy system" with U.S, in the role of upgrader and refiner, and Alberta as "low value extractor."
Calling the promise a "shell game," he added Harper seems to be offering something to working people here in Alberta, but when you look deeper, there's really nothing there."
Acknowledging the lack of details, Greg Stringham, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers vice president, said when the new government starts taking its election platform into policy, "that will be when it's critical to get more detail of what they really mean by this."
He noted while Canada already upgrades two-thirds of the oil from Canadian oilsands, significant cost increases are a real concern for upgrader operations.
"You can see that with a number of proposals out there that are struggling with their costs. For us, that's the real focus right now," he explained. Four upgraders are currently operating including Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada with capacity of upwards of one million barrels a day. There are 13 proposals for upgrader expansions and stand-alones in various stages of construction or regulatory approval.
All tolled, that will give the province some 3.5 million barrels a day of upgrading capacity, however, some plans have been deferred due to costs.
Instead of protecting Canadian jobs and resources, Coles maintained Harper is demanding and encouraging more exports of raw bitumen. "I was in Louisiana (in April) when he talked to the world about improving American energy security. It's classic Orwellian double speak."
The day before Harper made his announcement, BA Energy shelved plans for an upgrader in Fort Saskatchewan, east of Edmonton. On the day of Harper's announcement, EnCana and ConocoPhillips announced an expansion of their join of a coker and refinery at their joint project in Illinois.
"I think this is a real push to expedite the bitumen to the U.S." said Coles, noting there continues to be no pipeline to eastern Canada.
The labour advocate is also questioning the National Energy Board, which approves pipeline applications. He even goes so far to believe there is a case for a mandamus application before the courts because the board isn't living up to its mandate.
"They're just rubber stamping the expansion of this (flow) of resources to the United States without any concern for public interest," he maintains.
A mandamus is a superior court writ ordering, in this case, a public body to perform a specified duty.
"We're beside ourselves. We've tried everything to get Harper to at least consider the public interest," Coles said.
With upgrading and refining continuing its southbound trend coupled with the world economy's downward spiral, Coles predicts that in the medium- to long- term, Alberta will end up the big loser because it won't have the upgrading jobs, but will have the pollution.
With jobs disappearing from Ontario's shrinking manufacturing sector, Coles points out if the refineries and upgraders were built in Ontario and Quebec instead of the U.S., "the Canadian job spin off in eastern Canada, including back to Alberta, are enormous."
McGowan also recognized the strengthening U.S. grip. By saying he will only allow bitumen exports to country with higher standards for greenhouse gas emissions, Harper is essentially saying only the U.S. will be eligible to receive bitumen.
"In a sense he's enshrining the status quo, which is not good enough when that status quo is exporting literally hundreds of thousands of barrels of bitumen to the American midwest and Gulf Coast every day," he said.
Fort McMurray Today, Wed Oct 8 2008
Byline: Carol Christian
Last November, The Alberta Federation of Labour released a report exposing the widespread abuse of foreign workers.
- job promised being radically different or disappearing upon arrival
- lower wages than promised
- demands to perform inappropriate personal services
- deportation and imprisonment threats
The majority of temporary workers are labourers and nannies. Visas for truck drivers, factory workers, cleaners and food services have risen significantly during the past two years. Yet, over the last few years, the plight of exotic dancers has been a focus in the House of Commons.
Until December 2004, Canada's exotic dancer visa program fast-tracked foreign women through the immigration process to fill a supposed stripper shortage.
This temporary working visa has since been linked to organized crime and sex trafficking.
Canadian immigration officers responded by dramatically cutting the visas granted to foreign exotic dancers. During the last sitting of Parliament, Bill C-17 (formerly known as Bill C-57) was brought forward to solidify the legal authority of immigration officers to deny working visas to foreign nationals deemed at risk for exploitation and abuse.
Already twice introduced in Parliament, the substance of the bill will likely receive a new life after the October 14 federal election.
Many sex worker and immigrant advocacy groups are not convinced the provisions of Bill C-17 can address exploitation.
"[O]nly a handful of work permits have been issued to exotic dancers in recent years. Parliamentary time would be better used to address the broader problem of the exploitation of non-citizens in Canada," states Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.
"Trafficking thrives in conditions where there are, one, barriers to workers' migration, and two, poor working conditions," says Dr. Leslie Ann Jeffrey of the University of New Brunswick. "This bill both increases the barriers and fails to address exploitative work conditions and becomes part of the problem rather than part of the solution."
Canada: a destination country for sex trafficking
- approximately 800 persons are trafficked to Canada each year
- an additional 1,500 to 2,000 are trafficked through Canada to the U.S.
- 80% of trafficked persons are women and girls; up to half are minors
- victims are primarily trafficked from Asia, and Eastern Europe, but also Africa and Latin America
Annie Temple of NakedTruth.ca told the Canadian Press, "If the Conservative government is truly concerned about exploitation of exotic dancers, then they should focus on ensuring health and safety standards exist in strip clubs."
STAR Report: Exotic Dancing in Ontario
The Sex Trade Advocacy and Research (STAR) report, Exotic Dancing in Ontario: Health and Safety, shows exotic dancers are denied the normal protections offered to workers outside of the sex industry.
One explanation is the majority of dancers work freelance, paying club owners for working space. Thus, they are not covered by federal and provincial labour legislation and do not benefit from unionization.
Dancers are frequently penalized through club expulsion, arrest and criminal charges if they take action against assault and harassment. This behaviour is treated as an expected "occupational hazard" explains the report, and is extremely high due to dancers' close proximity to intoxicated clients and the belief they are "sexually available."
The report recommends:
- clarification in legislation and by-laws to include exotic dancers and strip clubs
- improved health and safety standards in strip clubs
- police protection from harassment and assault
- education of police and government officials regarding the treatment of exotic dancers and their work conditions
- education of exotic dancers on their rights and available support services, available in many languages
- Human Resources and Social Development Canada and Immigration Canada must assure foreign dancers are not brought into Canada under false pretences and employers must meet public policy requirements
Section 15.ca, Wed Oct 8 2008
Byline: Jenna Owsianik
EDMONTON -- The Alberta Liberals staged a play Saturday morning at their annual convention. If that sounds like a strange thing to see at a political gathering, it's because the Liberals' informal theme this weekend is how to do things differently, how to break free of 87 years in opposition.
"I set a challenge to the organizers to court controversy. I said everything should be on the table -- the name, working with others. Whatever it takes," Leader Kevin Taft said.
"I think after the last election, more people than ever came to the conclusion that doing the same old thing again and again doesn't make sense. So I wanted to stretch the limits in a way that we haven't before. And this is the time to do it, right after the election."
This time last year, Taft and his party were boasting about being a government in waiting. Now they are 31/2 years away from the next election, facing a leadership contest and an emboldened PC party with a 72-seat majority. They are also hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
But the more than 150 people who attended the convention at the Best Western Inn on the west side were still upbeat, making self-deprecating jokes and talking about new ways of doing business.
One breakout session was called A New Way: brainstorming session including discussion of the name change, new party, new directions. Another was called Democracy Done Differently.
A morning panel featured rancher and writer Les Brost, and Alberta Federation of Labour president, Gil McGowan. McGowan recently positioned himself at the heart of the left-of-centre debate in Alberta by proposing a strategic merger between the Liberals and the NDP.
Brost predicted tough economic times for the province and said people will be more receptive to the party's message when the boom dies down a bit.
McGowan said he told the NDP convention last summer that their brand was damaged in Alberta.
"But your brand is just as damaged, if not more so," he told the Liberals.
McGowan outlined several options for the future, ranging from the status quo to blowing up all the parties and starting a new one.
The theatrical presentation featured a hapless party supporter being fought over by a status-quo Liberal in a red dress named "Catherine the Grit" and a woman in a green shirt and rainbow headband wanting to pull the party to the ideological left.
How far the party lets itself be pulled may rest on who they pick as party leader in December. All three candidates know the party needs to look at how they're doing things, but they vary in how far they are willing to go.
Since last election, Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann has been holding wide-ranging forums around the province that have drawn Greens, NDs and Liberals. Of the three, he is most open to the name change and about co-operating with the other parties.
Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor urges a bit more caution: "I think we've got some work to do on ourselves first in terms of organizational skills, in terms of some culture and attitude, in terms of the way we see ourselves."
Mo Elsalhy, the former MLA for Edmonton-McClung, has also expressed skepticism about the need for a party name change.
The three leadership candidates will hold their second debate this morning on the convention's last day.
Edmonton Journal, Sun Oct 5 2008
Byline: Archie McLean