EDMONTON-The AFL responded today to comments from Clint Dunford regarding the released emails implicating key Labour Relations Board (LRB) in a scandal regarding the drafting of Bill 27.
"Either Minister Dunford doesn't get it, or he is continuing a game of whitewash," says AFL President Gil McGowan.
Late last week, the AFL received three documents as part of a privacy commissioner inquiry that prove that one of the LRB's Vice-Chairs, with the knowledge of the Chair and other Vice-Chair, prepared initial drafts of the controversial Bill 27 - which ripped up collective agreements and forced the merger of hundreds of bargaining units. These emails indicate that the LRB breached its role as the independent, neutral "court" for labour relations.
Dunford downplayed the emails yesterday - although admitting he had not seen them - saying the LRB was just providing "technical advice".
"Dunford's comments are absurd," retorts McGowan. "Anyone reading those emails can tell you more than 'technical advice' was being offered - Vice-Chair Les Wallace wrote the initial drafts of the regulations."
"The legislative counsel for Alberta Justice admitted he did not 'deviate' from Wallace's 'instructions' - this is far more than simple technical advice."
McGowan suggests Dunford is whitewashing the scandal. He notes that on September 3, 2003, Dunford was quoted in the Edmonton Sun as saying the LRB "weren't involved in the drafting of the legislation" (page 21).
"The emails prove Dunford was misleading the public in 2003, and I contend he continues to do so today."
McGowan also points out that even the offering of technical advice is a breach of the LRB's mandate. "They are the impartial court for labour relations - do we ask judges how to craft criminal law? No, because it is inappropriate to ask the person interpreting the law to also help create it. That is what happened here."
"Clearly Dunford doesn't understand the role of the LRB. He doesn't get it."
"The Premier doesn't get it either", adds McGowan. "His comments in the legislature yesterday equating a court hearing and a public inquiry are nonsense. The two processes are vastly different - and he knows it. Our court appeal is narrow and technical. What's needed is a broad review of the Board's impartiality that can only be accomplished with a public inquiry."
"This scandal has rocked the labour movement - we have long had doubts about the neutrality of the LRB, but these revelations prove to us that something is wrong at the Board," McGowan concludes.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell) or 780.483-3021 (wk)