Jason Kenney may think he has vanquished unions, but he is about to “reap the whirlwind,” says AFL

Kenney’s arrogance and his radicalism is uniting Albertans in opposition to his dangerous agenda

These are the remarks made by Alberta Federation of Labour president, Gil McGowan, in response to the passage of Bill 32, the Kenney government’s anti-worker, anti-union labour bill.

“Jason Kenney has spent the past six weeks slandering and vilifying Alberta unions, in an effort to justify Bill 32.

Both his slander and his legislation are products of his fear.

Yes, Jason Kenney is afraid of me; but even more importantly, he’s afraid of what I represent: and that’s the power that ordinary working people can wield when they act collectively through their unions.

As Nobel-prize-winning economist Paul Krugman once said: unions are the only effective counterbalance to the power of corporations and the wealthy.

Jason Kenney understands this, and that’s why he’s attempting to neutralize us, both in the workplace and on the political stage.

You see, Premier Kenney has a plan; a plan to transform Alberta in the image of a backward Republican American state.

Tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy. Privatized health care. Under-funded schools. Minimal workplace rights. Minimal protections for consumers and the environment.

In other words, he wants to turn Alberta into Alabama North.

Kenney knows this is NOT what Albertans voted for. And he knows that unions will fight him.

That’s why he’s vilifying and demonizing us. And that’s why he passed Bill 32 to defund us and silence us.

But, you know what? He’s not going to get away with it.

Kenney clearly had hoped to use the pandemic, and the dog days of summer, as cover to ram his agenda through while people weren’t paying attention.

But, Albertans ARE paying attention. And they’re connecting the dots.

Bill 32 will end overtime as we know it in Alberta and, in the process, vaporize huge chunks of income for many Alberta families.

It will allow employers to essentially opt out of basic workplace protections, making a mockery of the whole notion of minimum workplace standards.

And it will deny working Albertans the bargaining power they need to stand up to bad bosses.

This Bill is bad for non-union workers because it robs them of basic workplace rights. It’s bad for unionized workers because it robs them of basic democratic rights. It’s bad for the economy because it will suppress both wages and consumer purchasing power. And it’s bad for society because it tips the balance of power in favour the UCP, corporations and the wealthy, at the expense of everyone else.

If this noxious, anti-worker piece of legislation was the only thing the UCP did in this session of the legislature, it would be bad enough.

But it wasn’t. It was only one portion of what can only be described as a tsunami of radical incompetence.

Just consider the list of damage that Kenney and his bully boys have been inflicting on our province.

They’re chasing doctors out of our province…during a pandemic.

They’re sending more than 750,000 of our kids back to school … without any new funding to ensure their safety.

They’re introducing an expensive and dangerous layer of for-profit corporations into our public health care system.

They’re rigging local elections in favour of their rich friends and donors.

They’re antagonizing rural municipalities by downloading costs on them.

They’re seizing workers’ pensions; they’re selling off parks to pave the way for coal mines; they’re criminalizing legitimate political dissent; AND, they’re demonizing anyone who dares to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should acknowledge that the world has started the process of moving away from fossil fuels and that, maybe, just maybe, we should start preparing our province to deal with that fact.

These guys are not conservatives; they’re radical extremists.

If there is any good news in all of this, it’s that Jason Kenney’s radical policies, his arrogant manner and his bullying tactics have been so offensive to so many Albertans that he’s united huge swaths of the province against him.

Whether it’s doctors or patients; teachers or students; parents or children; meat-packing workers or nurses; seniors or young people … Alberta is rising up.

Today, as the dust settles from one of the most destructive Legislative sessions in Alberta history, I’m going to make this commitment on behalf of Alberta unions: we know which side we’re on … and no matter what Jason Kenney does to silence us or tie us up in knots, we will stand with our fellow Albertans as they rise up and push back against Jason Kenney’s dangerous and irresponsible agenda for our province.

My final message today is for Jason Kenney himself, and it’s a quote from the Bible, Hosea 8:7

“You have sown the wind. Now you shall reap the whirlwind.”

Premier, you have sown dangerous seeds; seeds that many Albertans don’t want to take root. So, get ready for an unprecedented harvest of protest. You are about the reap the whirlwind.”

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL
rfranson@afl.org