AFL says UCP will soon add a “worker gag law” to its growing list of anti-democratic actions

Legislation will be designed to silence workers and undermine union advocacy campaigns

EDMONTON, Alberta, Nov. 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First the UCP demonized environmentalists with the war room and the House Un-Albertan activities inquiry.

Then they fired the independent election commissioner who was investigating them.

This morning we’ve learned they’re asking the courts to drop cases against their political allies, saying what they did won’t be illegal for long.

And, now the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour says he has information suggesting that the UCP will soon introduce legislation to hamper the work of unions who are standing up against the government’s cuts; their corporate tax giveaways; and their attempts to expropriate the retirement savings of hundreds of thousands of Albertans.

“Separately, each of these things would be cause for alarm.  Together, they suggest that the new brand of right-wing authoritarianism that has been sweeping the world has now come to Canada, courtesy of Jason Kenney and the UCP.  Albertans need to fight back before irreparable damage is done to our democracy,” says AFL president Gil McGowan.

Quotes from Gil McGowan at today’s news conference:

“They will also say that they are doing this to protect the rights and freedoms of individual Alberta workers.  But let’s be serious.  The UCP is the boss’s party, not the workers’ party.  The law they’re about to introduce isn’t motivated by concern for ordinary working Albertans.  And it’s not motivated by concerns about freedom, rights or democracy.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite of all of those things.  Despite the Orwellian rationales that will be provided by the UCP, what this is really about is undermining the bargaining power of working Albertans so that employers can more easily reduce wages, benefits and workplace protections.  It’s also about silencing the UCP’s critics and weakening groups that Premier Kenney knows will stand up to him and push back against his agenda.”

“And if there was ever a time that ordinary working Albertans needed someone to push back against the provincial government’s agenda, it’s now.  That’s what unions do.  We stand up for the powerless and push back against the powerful.  That is why we’re being targeted.”

“The American middle class is on life-support because of laws aimed at weakening worker power in the workplace and on the political stage.  Premier Kenney clearly wants to use Alberta as a beachhead to bring these destructive policies to Canada.  Today, we in the Alberta labour movement are issuing a warning and making a commitment.  Our warning to Albertans is that these policies won’t just undermine unions; they will undermine all Alberta workers and the entire Alberta middle class.  Our commitment to our members and to all working Albertans is that we will fight Jason Kenney’s attempt to bring American-style anti-worker laws to our province with everything we’ve got.  We will fight them in the courts; will fight them at the ballot box; and we will fight them in the streets if necessary.”

“Right-wing authoritarianism is on the rise across the world: from Hungary and Turkey to Brazil and even the United States.  The UCP’s worker gag law represents more than a faint echo of this kind of dangerous and corrosive politics.  For the sake of our democracy and the sake of our middle-class society we can’t and won’t let these kinds of bad seeds take root here in Alberta.”

Gil McGowan
President, AFL
(780) 218-9888 or