Party setting up as single choice on left, not the far left
If you're feeling a bit harried watching the Alberta election campaign, I invite you to take a deep breath and relax.
Focus on something placid and peaceful and as removed as possible from the daily election grind, something or rather someone like NDP Leader Brian Mason.
In a campaign that has so many parties frantically fighting for their political lives, Mason seems to be floating above the fray. It's as if the Natural Law party has re-turned to politics with promises of yogic flying but this time it actually works.
In the first week of the campaign, when other parties ex-changed mud and innuendoes, Mason said in an open letter, "I'm concerned about the negative personal tone that has developed in the first five days of this campaign."
A clever tactic. By sending the letter to reporters, Mason was hoping to get some media coverage. In that light, a letter that attacked the political gamesmanship and cynicism of the other leaders was itself something cynical - but in the nicest way possible.
"In a province that already has the lowest voter turn-out rates in Canada, where fewer than half of the electorate votes, we must strive to give Albertans a reason to vote," wrote Mason, expressing a sentiment nobody could argue. "Let's have a vigorous, but fair debate this election."
Mason, the peacemaker, received plaudits and headlines. He's also getting a big boost in support, according to the latest public opinion poll from Leger Marketing.
The NDP might be running in a distant third place at 8.5 per cent of decided voters across Alberta, but in Edmonton the NDP is in a competitive third place. In the capital city, the PCs are in front with 37 per cent, the Wildrose has 25 per cent and the NDP has 20 per cent, which puts them ahead of the Liberals at 12 per cent and the Alberta Party at four per cent. The margin of error for the city survey is 5.5 per cent, which means the numbers could be much higher or lower for the parties. But it also means because the NDP support is concentrated in Edmonton, the NDP could be in second place in the city. Toss in the unknown factor of vote splitting and the NDP contention that they're a player in ridings across the city doesn't seem as far-fetched as it did when the campaign started.
The PCs are frantic because they could lose government, the Liberals are frantic because they might lose official Opposition status, and the Wildrose is a bit frantic because it doesn't want to blow its lead.
Mason is the one leader who seems to be genuinely enjoying himself. He is arguably one of the best-performing MLAs in the legislature, if not the best, and he's the only current leader of a political party who has been through an election campaign at the helm. The NDP has been performing consistently well in public opinion polls the past year, and both Mason and fellow NDP MLA Rachel Not-ley are seen as virtually bullet-proof in their home ridings. The party has high hopes to win more seats in Edmonton, including Edmonton-Manning and Edmonton-Calder.
New Democrats are horning in on traditional Liberal territory by being less stridently political and more politically pragmatic. Mason wants the oilsands to be more environ-mentally responsible but he's not anti-oilsands. In fact, he's stopped calling them the "tar sands." He's not a fan of the Keystone pipeline or the Gate-way pipeline but only because he wants the bitumen from the oilsands upgraded here in Alberta rather than exported to the U.S. and China.
Among other things, Mason would freeze tuition fees for post-secondary students, cover basic dental costs for children under 18, cap seniors' drug costs at $25 a month and regulate electricity rates to lower people's power bills. Most of all, though, the NDP is setting itself up as the one true alternative on the left, but not the far left.
And that could pay off in a big way, depending on how the election plays out. And this election could play out in so many interesting ways. The Wildrose could walk away with it and crush the PCs, or the PCs could bounce back if voters get cold feet. But what happens if nobody wins a majority? What happens if we end up with a minority government? For the first time in decades, that is a real possibility. In that case, the third-place party could hold the balance of power. And, right now, the NDP is in third place, according to the Leger poll.
If the Liberal vote collapsed and the NDP got five or six seats, for example, and the PCs/Wildrose were in a tie with roughly 41 seats each, the NDP would hold the balance of power. Suddenly, Mason would be in a position to force the governing party to look at his ideas for dental care and a tuition freeze, if not his more lofty ambitions to stop the bitumen pipelines.
"I can't deny having had some thoughts with respect to it," Mason acknowledged on the campaign trail this week, "but I really want to concentrate on getting as many NDP MLAs elected as possible at this stage."
When pressed on the issue about possibly holding the balance of power, Mason suggested the NDP would be the party that ends up in a virtual tie with the Wildrose. "Maybe the Conservatives will hold the balance of power," he said with an impish grin.
Mason is not really expecting to win the election or finish a close second. But he is expecting his party to be a winner on election night by picking up more seats and maybe, just maybe, having some real influence over government policy, whether that government hap-pens to be PC or Wildrose.
That's why Mason is enjoying himself so much.
Edmonton Journal, Sat Apr 7 2012
Byline: Graham Thomson
During the ongoing provincial election campaign, I'm unlikely to agree very often with Liberal Leader Raj Sherman. But on the subject of third-party advertising, Sherman is one of the few party bosses who gets it.
After the 2008 campaign, the Tory government passed a law making it so difficult for third parties — unions, professional groups, taxpayers' organizations and industry associations — to take out ads, that the new rules amount to a ban on advertising by anyone other than registered parties and registered candidates.
That is downright anti-democratic. There is no more important time than a campaign to hear from anyone and everyone with a point of view. But the Tory bill has the effect of making elections a monopoly for politicians.
Under the law, third parties can still spend enough money to buy ads big enough to attract voters' attention. The catch is that the reporting requirements for who donated and how much, are so onerous that few organizations will have the time and resources to jump through all the hoops.
The Alberta law was a response to ads taken out by a union front-organization called Albertans for Change. During the 2008 campaign, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Health Services Association of Alberta, the United Nurses of Alberta and the Alberta Building Trades Council got together to spend an estimated $2 million of members' dues on ads aimed at unseating the Tory government.
Needless to say, the ads didn't have their intended impact. Nonetheless, the Tories didn't want to face such concerted opposition from unions again.
This time around, unions could still spend $2 million appealing to Albertans to end the Tories' 41-year reign, but to do so they would have to first prove the money came from freewill donations given by individual union members (rather than lump sums from the unions' general operating funds) and that each donation was knowingly given for the purposes of buying political ads. On top of that, the name and address of any member giving more than $375 would have to be made public.
These rules apply to all third parties, not just unions, but the likelihood of unions being able to solicit enough extra funds from individual members to repeat 2008's campaign is very remote.
Elections Alberta recently sent stern letters to groups such as the Alberta Medical Association, warning them that if they engage in third-party advertising without registering with the government first and complying with pages of regulations, they run the risk of incurring fines of up to $100,000.
Premier Alison Redford explained that she supported this ban because she doesn't want a situation where citizens' organizations "are driving a policy agenda independently from what political parties are doing."
Really? I would have thought in a democracy that is exactly what we would want — independent organizations speaking up with policy ideas when they don't think the political parties and their candidates are doing an adequate job. It is dangerous, in fact, to leave the policy agenda to the parties and their candidates alone.
There is no better time for third parties to speak up than during election campaigns, when the greatest number of citizens are paying attention. Sherman gets that.
He's in favour of transparency from third parties. They should declare who is sponsoring their ads and make the names of donors public. But he objects to rules that make it all but impossible for Albertans who aren't affiliated with parties to raise issues important to them. "This is a democratic country the last time I checked," he told reporters Sunday, "and there's something called freedom of speech."
Edmonton Sun, Thurs Apr 5 2012
Byline: Lorne Gunter
One could forgive the provincial Tories for indulging in political nostalgia this election campaign.
Gone are the days of elections past when supremacy was taken for granted — and pundits quipped that ballots were weighed instead of counted — in many Calgary and southern Alberta constituencies.
With the Redford government suffering a series of political headaches in the weeks leading up to today's election call, ridings where PC party candidates previously meandered to victory will instead see tight two or three party races.
"I remember just punching in a Klein sign and then going for beers," said one Tory volunteer on the campaign trail in Calgary. "This time, guys are having to work."
Mount Royal University political analyst David Taras said laid-back PC party riding associations that coasted even through the Stelmach years will have to start pounding the pavement, as the Wildrose will target high-profile Tories such as Ted Morton, Jonathan Denis and Ken Hughes, and winning margins could become thin.
"Calgary is the battleground," Taras said.
To claim success, "the Wildrose has to break through in Calgary. They have to break the Tory fortress."
The Liberals are struggling to compete with the long-governing Conservatives and the Wildrose in terms of both money and popular support, provincewide. The Grits will have to fight hard in what Taras calls the city's "red-zone" — those inner-city ridings such as Calgary-Mountain View, Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Buffalo and Calgary-Varsity — to keep their foot in Cowtown.
No matter what their political allegiance, many city voters will be bewildered by an array of riding boundary changes, in course with a seat redistribution that takes effect this election.
Nearly every riding has had its boundaries altered in one way or another, and some have been renamed (Calgary-North Hill becomes Calgary-Klein, Calgary-Egmont becomes Calgary-Acadia, and Calgary-Montrose is gone, taken up in part with a much-metamorphosed Calgary-Greenway).
Calgary will house two additional ridings — Calgary South-East and Calgary-Hawkwood in the northwest — bringing the city's total number of seats to 25 out of a total of 87.
Some ridings are virtually unrecognizable from the past. For instance, Calgary-Hays is geographically a quarter the size it was.
A few of the boundary redistribution choices may have Calgarians scratching their heads. The outstanding example is Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, which begins in the city's northernmost reaches, but then moves down into the airport area, and juts into neighbourhoods such as Thorncliffe and Huntington Hills. The cluster of northern neighbourhoods including Panorama Hills, Coventry Hills and Harvest Hills is left as an island, in a riding called Calgary-Northern Hills.
Here are a few of the contests to watch with an emphasis on the south battlegrounds now in play before the April 23 vote:
It's the battle of the lawyers. Wildrose candidate Richard Jones began blasting Solicitor General Jonathan Denis since earlier this year. Jones has spearheaded the Wildrose campaign that has seen the distribution of thousands of coasters targeting the Tory government's impaired driving law. The Wildrose says Bill 26, which will enact a host of tougher penalties once it comes into effect, is heavy handed. The Tories say the law will save lives.
The boundary changes see this riding shift in a major way to the west. With incumbent Alberta party MLA Dave Taylor (formerly a Liberal) retiring from politics, this race is a highly competitive contest between the Wildrose's Corrie Adolph, PC candidate Christine Cusanelli, and Liberal Norval Horner. Even though his party is far behind in the polls, Alberta party candidate and lawyer Norm Kelly is said to be a contender.
The riding has been held by Heather Forsyth since 1993, but this is the first election the incumbent will face as a Wildrose party member — Forsyth crossed the floor alongside Rob Anderson in January 2010. PC candidate Wendelin Fraser is an associate professor and former dean at the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University. Liberal Nazir Rahemtulla is an accountant at the Alberta Securities Commission.
This altered riding will be carefully scrutinized as incumbent Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman fights to hang onto the seat he narrowly won during a byelection in 2009. But the Tories want back the constituency they held for almost four decades before placing third in the byelection three years ago. The PC party candidate is Linda Johnson, who worked as a constituency assistant for Jim Hawkes, the former MP for Calgary-West. Once considered fertile ground for the Alberta Liberals, the party has yet to nominate a candidate here.
Races in Calgary-McCall are never boring. This election will be no exception, with one-term incumbent Alberta Liberal MLA Darshan Kang, who won with a razor-thin margin 2008, facing off against former church minister and airport tunnel advocate Grant Galpin for the Wildrose, and PC party candidate Muhammad Rasheed.
This riding could be a major test of the health of the Alberta Liberal party, with union leader and former party leadership candidate Bruce Payne attempting to hold onto the Grit seat as incumbent Harry Chase retires. Lawyer, businesswoman and former Nexen vice-president Donna Kennedy-Glans holds the Tory banner.
The campaign here is already fully underway, with Wildrose candidate Andrew Constantinidis (who was once communications manager for MP Rob Anders) sending out news releases attacking former Alberta Health Services board chairman and Redford insider Ken Hughes. It's expected the Wildrose party will pour resources into this long-Tory blue riding to slay the high-profile Hughes. The big question is whether questions about the way the party handled the original, overturned riding nomination vote (which former MLA Shiraz Shariff won) and concerns about the province's health-care system stick to Hughes.
Incumbent Rob Anderson is a strong candidate in the riding directly north of Calgary but the one-term MLA has never been tested running under the Wildrose banner — he crossed the floor from the Tories in January 2010. PC candidate and longtime alderman Kelly Hegg is promising Anderson a competitive run.
Tory MLA and incumbent Ted Morton heads into this election contest in a vastly altered constituency — a change from the hegemony of farms and acreages to the west of the city he has represented in the past. The new horseshoe-shaped riding encircles three-quarters of the city and also takes in the region east of Calgary. Here the cabinet minister and twice-defeated PC party leadership candidate is running against Wildrose candidate and former TV host Bruce McAllister, who makes his home in Chestermere and is expected to attract strong support.
The riding just south of Calgary could be the most watched of the election campaign. Popular Tory incumbent George Groeneveld has departed, leaving an opening for Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, who badly needs win a seat in the legislature to truly take the helm of her party. In a display of how important the riding is, Premier Alison Redford appeared at a High River fundraiser for Tory candidate John Barlow, a popular longtime area resident and Okotoks publisher, last Friday before the election writ was dropped.
In a rare turn of events, incumbent Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Broyce Jacobs was beat handily by retired farmer Pat Shimbashi for the PC nomination last year. But that's no end to the drama in the riding against the U.S. border – it's by no means safe for the Tory party. The Wildrose lost in the 2008 election by just 49 votes. This time, the Wildrose party is represented by oil and gas businessman and Village of Stirling deputy mayor Gary Bikman.
Against all odds, the NDP is pouring resources into Lethbridge-West and candidate Shannon Phillips, a researcher and policy analyst for the Alberta Federation of Labour. Although it's been 23 years since a NDP MLA was elected anywhere south of Edmonton, the federal NDP party did surprisingly well in the area during last year's national election. But Phillips faces a formidable opponent in cabinet minister and incumbent Tory MLA Greg Weadick. The Liberal candidate is Bal Boora. Lethbridge-East could also yield some interesting voting results, with Liberal candidate Rob Miyashiro, executive director of the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization, the underdog against Liberal-turned-Redford Tory Bridget Pastoor.
This riding has gone back and forth between the Liberals and Tories over the past decade, and this time around PC party cabinet minister and incumbent Heather Klimchuk is being challenged by the area's former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller, who served between 2004 and 2008. But some say this is a true five-way contest with former school trustee and film director Sue Huff for the Alberta party, the NDP's former leader Ray Martin, and the Wildrose's Don Koziak — a former mayoral candidate — also in the running.
Besides Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, this is likely the most dangerous race for any of the major party leaders. Alberta Liberal Leader and one term MLA Raj Sherman faces his first election as a Grit (after being booted from the Tory caucus in 2010) and is being challenged by former high school principal and MLA Bob Maskell, who wants to return to provincial politics after losing his seat to a Liberal in 2004.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo
A former cabinet minister, Guy Boutilier's popularity in his riding has gone almost unquestioned since he was first elected into provincial politics in 1997. But Boutilier hasn't run in an election since being ejected from the Tory caucus and joining the Wildrose party. He is up against PC candidate, and regional councillor and deputy mayor, Mike Allen.
Calgary Herald, Mon Mar 26 2012
Byline: Kelly Cryderman
The Occupy Calgary Movement has been legally evicted by the city. Whether the justification of the verdict is the invalidity of the protesters' cause, the cleanliness and accessibility of Olympic Plaza, or the safety and health of the protesters, the majority of Calgarians are pleased with this outcome.
Perhaps that is the wrong perspective to take.
It is important to note that protests are not intended to win friends; they are intended to be inconvenient. People forget that out of everyone inconvenienced, it is the protesters that suffer this the most. This small group of people stood up for what they believed in, and they continued to stand in spite of public ridicule, police pressure, legal repercussions, and winter weather. How many people reading this have ever displayed that strength of will?
We forget - and many of us never knew - that these protesters were standing for something that is much bigger than Calgary. Due to the high standard of living and low unemployment rate, locally the Occupy Calgary cause was lost before it even started.
But this never had anything to do with Calgary.
The Occupy Movement is first and foremost a global movement, and every Canadian must recognize that we are damn lucky that we are not living elsewhere. If you've ever spent a substantial amount of time in South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, or Africa - basically the majority of the world - you know exactly what I'm referring to.
Most importantly, the occupiers of Olympic Plaza were protesting the corruption and inequality that currently plagues this world. Each day that the protest was set up was a day that Calgarians were forced to think about events happening outside of their borders. With how quickly the world forgot about Haiti, I would say reminders are important. It's easy to forget when we live in such a prosperous city, but this is a human issue that should be on everyone's radar.
I find it remarkable that Canadian Occupations popped up by choice, not by necessity. Those protesters were not starving. They had access to clean drinking water. They had access to shelter. Most had jobs. They were educated. So why protest? Considering the following facts - one in seven humans do not have enough food, one in four people live without electricity, one in two children live in poverty - and the choice between "that's just the way it is" and "that is unacceptable, this can't continue" is all too easy for many of us. It may not mean much to Calgarians, but having Occupy Movements sustained in Canada, regardless of size and local popularity, is inspirational to those people protesting in parts of the world where the cause is not lost, such as New York and Cairo.
Calgary has shut down a small but persistent thorn in its side. It didn't like that tiny, prickly reminder of the discord occurring in the global community. Now Calgary can return to its bubble, insulated by the oil and gas industry, and there is at least one Calgarian who is saddened by this.
November 2011: Canadian Wheat Board; Keystone XL decision; Occupy Movement; health and safety blitzes
Prairie labour groups defend Canadian Wheat Board
- The The Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba Federations of Labour united to defend the Canadian Wheat Board against attack from the Harper government. In a joint statement, the labour groups said the plan to dismantle the wheat board was illegal and undemocratic. AFL President Gil McGowan said: "The real truth is that the Harper government believes in a free market only when it's good for large corporations. It wants to destroy the ability of farmers to freely and collectively bargain to get the best price for their goods. It's the same ideological attack Harper has made on the rights of workers to collectively bargain to get a fair deal for their work in back-to-work legislation at Canada Post and Air Canada." For more ... and AFL Joint Statement on Canadian Wheat Board
AFL applauds U.S. decision to delay Keystone XL decision
- Albertans should see the Obama administration's decision to delay its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline as an opportunity to get more value out of our bitumen, rather than shipping our raw resources and jobs down the pipeline to the U.S. "It is an opportunity for us to move up the value chain and create a more prosperous and stable economic future for Albertans," says AFL president Gil McGowan. For more ... and news story on Keystone XL decision
Occupy movement a force for positive change in Alberta
- While protesters at Occupy Edmonton and Calgary faced moves to force them from their camps, they earned praise from the AFL for bringing important issues to the fore. "The Occupation sites were vibrant reminders of deeper issues of economic inequality in Alberta. What is truly unsightly is the presence of a government that favours its corporate friends over the interests of all Albertans," said AFL president Gil McGowan. He said their message and voices "will continue to inspire positive change in this province." For November 26th AFL press release; for November 9th AFL press release; and for October 14th AFL press release ...
Want to be safe at work? Join a union!
- A blitz of construction worksites by Occupational Health and Safety inspectors revealed the shocking level of unsafe practices faced by Alberta workers, with nearly 400 orders issued after 600 inspections of 387 employers. While the AFL welcomed a move to add evening and weekend inspections, it said much more must be done to keep workers safe. The best solution is to allow workers to join unions. "The evidence is clear from Alberta and across the country that the presence of unions at construction sites reduces the number of injuries and fatalities," says Gil McGowan, AFL president. Meanwhile, the AFL welcomed the Alberta Court of Appeal's decision to uphold a ruling that that Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Co. can be prosecuted for the deaths of two oilsands workers. "Today's ruling makes it clear that if international companies want to do business here, they have to not only respect our laws, but also be accountable when they violate them," says McGowan. For November 8th AFL press release and for November 23rd AFL press release ...
- Rally for striking workers at Peri Formwork Systems in Calgary - The workers at Peri Formwork Systems in Calgary have been on strike since July 4, 2011. They are seeking fair compensation and improved working conditions in their first collective agreement. The members of Carpenters Local 2010 members have not received a pay increase in three years. Join the rally in support of these workers.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm,
29 Industry Way S.E., Calgary
- Sign the Declaration of Support for Jordan's Principle - Jordan River Anderson of Norway House Cree Nation was ready to go home from hospital when he was two years old but spent over two years unnecessarily in hospital as the federal government and provincial governmentt could not agree on who should pay for his at home care. Jordan passed away at the age of five never having spent a day in a family home while governments continued to argue. Jordan's Principle seeks to ensure no other child becomes a victim of such jurisdictional disputes. Sign the petition here ...
- December 1: World AIDS Day
- December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- December 4: Commemorative Brunch
- December 6-7: AFL Executive Council
- December 6: AFL Open House
- December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women
- December 9: Deadline for registration for AFL 2012 School
- December 18: International Migrants Day
- December 20: Deadline for registration for January 27-29 2012 Equinox Weekend
Did you know ...
If four new upgraders were built in Alberta, we'd gain:
- 52,000 person years of direct construction employment
- 10,960 person years of engineering work
- 4,000 permanent operations jobs
- An additional 12,000 supply, service and maintenance jobs
- $400 million per year in provincial corporate taxes (based on Alberta estimates)
- $780 million per year in federal corporate income taxes
(Source: Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association, "Refine it where we mine it – Job creation,")
EDMONTON – The Alberta Federation of Labour congratulates Albertans involved in the growing Occupy movements for bringing issues of inequality in our wealthy province to greater public attention.
"Calls for fairness that started in New York very quickly took root in Alberta," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers. "The work of occupiers in Calgary and Edmonton are a sign that things are changing. These Albertans used peaceful and participatory democratic action to highlight issues that those in power would rather conveniently sweep under the rug."
McGowan contends that while a handful of conservative-minded elites have tried to pass of the occupation sites as unsightly, they were unsuccessful in asking Albertans to turn a blind eye to occupy protests.
"The occupation sites were vibrant reminders of deeper issues of economic inequality in Alberta. What is truly unsightly is the presence of a government that favours its corporate friends over the interests of all Albertans," adds McGowan.
McGowan sited income inequality, increasing child poverty rates, and generous corporate tax cuts amidst funding insecurity faced by the province's education system as indicators of skewed government priorities.
The AFL has continued to call attention to irresponsible provincial programs and earlier this year, demanded provincial accountability for its failed Drilling Stimulus programming. The stimulus gave away $2.9 billion of taxpayer money to pad private profits of oil and gas companies, while depleting our treasury of funds that could have been used to support health care and education.
"Albertans have witnessed great generosity for corporations, and yet working families are being asked to accept austerity. We sit amidst immense wealth, and the labour movement is working hard to make sure that wealth benefits all Albertans."
The AFL has issued ongoing solidarity statements with Albertans participating in the Occupy movement. Deep concern over issues such as income inequality, corporate influence over Alberta's democratic processes, and funding of public services are common ground between supporters of the Occupy movement and Alberta's labour unions.
"These kinds of issues could more easily fly under the radar of mainstream media. As we move forward, they are top-of-mind, thanks to Occupy protesters who braved the elements to get their message of democratic renewal heard. For that, we owe a debt of gratitude to Occupiers not only here in Alberta, but around the world."
"Occupiers' message and voices will continue inspire positive change in this province."-30-
Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888 (cell)
Prime Minister Harper has stated that he intends to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board by Christmas, 2011. It's time to tell him to Stop the Steamroller.
- Prime Minister Harper has not adequately consulted, as he is required to do, the relevant Canadian wheat and barley farmers on the matter.
- In a plebiscite, 62% of relevant farmers stated that they want the CWB to remain in place.
- This decision could be the beginning of the end for many family farms that form the backbone of Canadian agriculture, and it is unconscionable that a Canadian way of life should be put at risk without the opinions of those families being heard.
Sign this petition and tell the Prime Minister, Cabinet and the House of Commons you are standing up for farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board.
28,292 people have signed on and sent messages. Let's add to that.
Occupy Calgary got a boost from local labour leaders this weekend.
Dozens of union supporters and demonstrators joined the the Olympic Plaza group Saturday and rallied for labour solidarity outside Calgary's City Hall.
The Alberta Federation of Labour's Terry Inigo-Jones said joining the Occupy movement was a natural fit.
"They're fighting for some of the same issues that we've been fighting for for nearly 100 years, so we've issued statements of support for them," he said.
Inigo-Jones said that some key issues the two groups share are fair wages for workers and reliable funding for public services such as health care and education.
Anti-Occupy Calgary demonstrators gathered at Occupy Calgary's Labour Solidarity Rally on Saturday. The Chicken is wearing a Mayor Naheed Nenshi nametag that also says "Chicken Mayor." Meghan Grant/CBCAlexander Chevaler, the president of the Calgary and District Labour Council, said he was at the rally to highlight the overlap between the Occupy and labour movements.
Chevaler petitioned Calgary city council to allow Occupy Calgary to stay in Olympic Plaza.
"Our democratic institutions that are designed to protect us have failed to do so," he said.
Occupy Calgary protesters said they're ready to wait out winter at Olympic Plaza.
This week, the Occupy Edmonton group received a $7,500 donation from Occupy Wall Street for winterized tents.
Edmonton had its first snowfall of the year early Saturday morning, and demonstrators there vow they will wait out the winter.
cbc.ca, Sat Nov 12 2011
Occupy Calgary smoker slapped with $500 fine for littering: ‘We’re getting new tickets every minute,’ fellow protester complains
out in Olympic Plaza has landed one Occupy Calgary protester a $500 fine.
While stamping out a cigarette on Saturday morning, James Bullock was approached by two police officers and reprimanded.
"I think this is complete bull----," Bullock said. "The government needs to take this and shove it up their a-- and have a nice day.
"I can't afford this, man," he continued. "I only get $1,180 a month. You think I can afford a $500 ticket when I need to pay rent, my groceries and medical bills?"
Earlier this week, the city said it would eventually ticket, warn and then confiscate Occupy Calgary's gear, which has been set up in Olympic Plaza for more than three weeks.
However, mayor Naheed Nenshi has offered no timeline for the eviction. Meanwhile, occupiers claim they're being fined for petty infractions more frequently.
Protester Christopher Beggs feels the group is being unfairly targeted.
"We're getting new tickets every minute," said Beggs, who claims he was fined $50 for playing music in a park space. "Especially since they realized they're not going to be able to evict us under their normal avenues and channels."
"They just used the opportunity to take advantage of the bylaw," he said of the ticket. "It's discrimination."
Beggs said the group has been consulting lawyers daily and will be appealing the fines.
Bill Bruce, director of animal and bylaw services, said the city is continuing to enforce all normal bylaws, with the exception of the one that bars the protesters from camping in the park.
"This is exactly what we said (we'd do) and we've kept that up," he said.
Police and bylaw officers are continuing to monitor the situation.
City negotiators are still hoping for a peaceful and orderly solution, said Tom Sampson, the head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.
"We're on to dealing with the eighth person representing the squatting group at Olympic Plaza. There have been a few changeovers there," he said.
Protester Brent Talbot, who received a summon earlier in the week, estimated over 30 tickets have been given out over the last three days.
Despite the ticketing, Talbot said the group hasn't been deterred.
"It makes us stronger," he said. "It makes us more cohesive. It makes us more creative. It brings us together for more powerful conversations."
Meanwhile, Saturday also saw labour organizations join occupiers in a rally held outside City Hall.
Members of the Calgary & District Labour Council, Alberta Federation of Labour, and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference spoke to a group over 60 people.
CDLC president Alex Shevalier said the groups share common ground.
"(The) Occupy Calgary movement is very much a grassroots movement that sprang up to try to reduce some of the inequities in our society," Shevalier said.
"It started a conversation off in this country that really wasn't happening," he added. "We hope that conversation will continue."
Calgary Herald, Sat Nov 12 2011
Unions from across the city and Occupy Calgary rallied Saturday afternoon in front of City Hall.
A number of Unions were in attendance:
-CUPE Local 40: support for striking school board workers
-CUPE 37: outside workers of Calgary
-Calgary and District Labour Council
-Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Division 355
-Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1374
-Alberta Federation of Labour
During the rally, Amanda West from the ATU Local 1374 said she is concerned with the lack of full-time jobs.
"The fact that there are so many more part time jobs now than there ever have been full-time jobs is scary," West says.
Bob Anderson from CUPE Local 40 says cuts to education must stop and students should be able to learn in a safe environment.
"I was in a classroom the other day where the air handling system was rattling so much it had to be shut off so you can communicate," Anderson says.
President of the Calgary and District Labour Council Alexander Shevalier says the labour movement and Occupy Calgary both believe institutions aren't working for Canadians.
For example, Shevalier says there's only 102 occupational health and safety inspectors for 140,000 employers in Alberta and employment insurance is a maze of vague law that makes the worker obligations difficult to understand.
A representative from Alberta Federation of Labour spoke during the rally and they feel Occupy Calgary has every right to camp out at Olympic Plaza.
Union leaders also thanked Occupy Calgary for all their hard work.
660News, Sat Nov 12 2011