The Mystery of the Disappearing Lawyer

EDMONTON-In ongoing revelations in the scandal regarding Bill 27 and the Labour Relations Board (LRB), the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) released documents today contradicting public statements made by Human Resources and Employment (HRE) and a lawyer with McLennan Ross regarding emails between an LRB Vice-Chair and the government about the drafting of Bill 27.

A letter from the FOIP Coordinator for HRE, released by the AFL today, suggests the department had hired no outside lawyer to offer legal services on Bill 27. This directly contradicts public statements made by the department and the lawyer in question.

"If the lawyer copied in the emails about Bill 27 was not working for HRE, who was he working for?" asks AFL President Gil McGowan.

Documents made public earlier this month show the Vice-Chair of the LRB emailing officials at HRE with a draft of Bill 27 regulations. In the email, a lawyer with McLennan Ross, Damon Bailey, was copied. McLennan Ross is a prominent employer-side labour law firm. At the time, the AFL raised alarm bells about this, saying it proved employers had played an active role in developing Bill 27, an openly anti-union labour law. But both HRE and Damon Bailey stated publicly that Bailey was working for HRE , not health care employers, at the time.

However, a letter from the FOIP Coordinator for HRE contradicts these statements. In January, 2005, the AFL's lawyer made a FOIP request for records "documenting the engagement of any outside (non-government) legal counsel and/or law firm by the Department, the Minister or Minister's staff" regarding Bill 27. In March, the FOIP Coordinator responded by saying: "I regret to inform you that a thorough search by Human Resources and Employment has failed to retrieve any records responsive to your request."

"We asked if HRE hired any outside lawyers to help with Bill 27 and were told there were no records," says McGowan. "No records usually suggests no contract. There would be an invoice or piece of paper of some kind."

In a letter to the editor published in the Edmonton Journal on December 7, Damon Bailey says: "My only involvement with Bill 27 was to provide technical assistance and expertise to the department of human resources and employment."

"If Bailey was working for HRE, then the Department deliberately withheld documents from a FOIP request," McGowan inquires. "If there were no documents, then Bailey was not working for the department, and this raises the question why he was copied on sensitive emails."

The AFL intends to ask the Privacy Commissioner to investigate this contradiction, and continues to press for all the documents related to Bill 27 to be released. "The only way to clear the air at the LRB is to let everyone see the documents and find out what happened." McGowan concludes.

Copies of the documents released today are available here. Look under the media release section.

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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell)  or  780.483-3021 (wk)


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