"Democratic Renewal" comes with a free pair of jackboots

I've just finished reading probably one of the most offensive things you can find on the planet. I should enroll it in my contest below. Specificially its from Alvin Finkel about how the Wildrose Alliance's labour policies so massively offend the left-wing thugs who depend on union dues (taken, as we shall see below, against the will of some of its members) to support their coffers that no right-thinking individual with more than a pence to his name would ever sent their cash to.

But Premier Stelmach is certainly right in declaring that Wild Rose’s policy regarding teachers’ right to withhold their labour is “draconian.” It’s part of a draconian labour policy, and what follows is the verbatim labour platform included on their website.

  • allow individual workers the choice to determine their membership in labour organizations.
  • allow competition to the Workers Compensation Board.
  • extend to workers the democratic right to a secret ballot vote on labour organization certification under the Labour Code and ensure that the same rule apply for de-certification as for certification.
  • restore education as an essential service under the Labour Code ensuring that no childs right to an education is denied by school strikes or lockouts.
The first policy, which looks “democratic” at first blush, is an effort to revoke the Rand formula, which was devised by Justice Ivan Rand after World War 2 as the way to recognize that everyone in a unionized work place benefits from the collective agreement that the union negotiates and therefore no one should be able to get a free ride by not paying union dues. It also recognizes that if there is a union in place on a worksite that employers might put undue pressure on workers not to join if membership in the union is not compulsory.

In many Southern and Western United States states, “right to work” legislation of the kind supported by plank one in the Wild Rose labour platform has resulted in a complete collapse of unionization, with unsurprisingly devastating consequences for wages and working conditions. Unsurprisingly, while American and Canadian rates of unionization were similar in the 1960s before such legislation was introduced in the U.S.–no Canadian province has such legislation–, the American rate of unionization in 2008 was 12.6 per cent versus 29.4 per cent in Canada.
Oh no, not a "complete lapse of unionization"! If that happens to be the side effect of giving every single person in a company from the CEO to the janitor the exact same fundamental right to free associaton, then fine by me. It sounds like Alvin's big complaint is that this "democratization" comes with a big hit to his union buddies. That isn't and never should be the way to examine legislation. What should be looked at, and what I'm glad Wildrose is looking at, is who is currently at risk of being disenfranchised. Considerable numbers of workers I have formerly and currently work with would refuse utterly to join a union shop, and to present an ability for them to make a choice not to do so just because 2/3rds of their coworkers chose otherwise cannot be considered a bad thing. Unless, of course, your too concerned with union dues going to organizations that can then afford to pepper the airwaves with sob stories every time governments take the axe to departments.

Did he also oppose privatized liquor stores on the basis that the clerks on the government teet were being squeezed out of their cushy union jobs? I ask because such people were the only ones in the province opposed to retail liquor privatization.

Policy 2 above regarding the WCB reflects the Wild Rose’s view that governments can do nothing either efficiently or properly. Better then to privatize their functions. The WCB under the Tories is certainly a mess. Reflecting the Tories’ pro-business and anti-spending fetishes, it tries to prevent injured workers from getting what is supposed to be insurance rather than insuring that they are looked after. In many respects, it mimics how private insurance companies operate, placing corporate profit above the needs of the insured. Wild Rose wants to go the next logical step. Instead of making the WCB a provider of real insurance, and trying to limit necessary payouts by having tough and well-enforced workplace safety legislation, they have opted for simply gradually privatizing the WCB.
Now here we see that similarly, we have found the one person on this earth who thinks the current WCB environment is anything on this side of reason. I've written about WCB issues before, and what always strikes me is that its not privatized NOR is it government run. What happens instead is that any complaint you take to WCB is redirected to your MLA because its provincial legislation that gives carte blanche to WCB... but once you talk to your MLA you're assured that WCB is a totally independent agency outside the purview of government. Employees dislike WCB, employers dislike WCB... it seems the only people who enjoy the Workers Compensation Board are those who happen to cash a paycheque from them. This is not a matter simply helped by tweaking the rules a little in favour of one side of the other. The solution is to give everybody involved one of those grown-up choice. The employers choice of which injurer worker compensation company to go through is now another publicized perk, like which company administers the company supplied RRSP program.

And what about all those “accidents” that cause workers to end up on workers’ compensation? Accidents are in quotes because in almost every case, a so-called accident could be prevented if safety laws were adequate as well as adequately enforced. Well, their numbers will increase as will environmental disasters and dangers to the public of other kinds that might be prevented by proper law enforcement. Wild Rose promises to “cut red tape and the regulatory burden by 1/3.” The likely results are obvious: think Walkerton!
This is waxing poetically about how wonderful it is that some unionized bureaucrat who's never had a lick of practical business experience going around telling risk-taking entrepreneurs and highly trained managers how to dig a hole. There is however some maybe tiny possibility that this is completely unnecessary.

Policy number three above, dealing with secret ballots, has been demonstrated over time in the United States to give employers the ability to threaten workers with shutdowns, job cuts, and the like in order to keep out unions. In the U.S., the progressive wing of Democratic legislators, including President Obama, are committed to the Employee Free Choice Act, which has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, and which would allow unions the right to receive certification when they sign up a majority of potential members of a union local. Republican legislators, supporting the same reactionary business interests who oppose universal medical care insurance in their country, have lined up agains the EFCA, claiming that it is undemocratic. In Canada, right-wing business interests, and the Fraser Institute, one of the “think tanks” that business sponsors in an effort to disguise their own efforts to change public policy and public opinion, want the Canadian federal government and the provinces to imitate current American legislation that requires a secret vote no matter how many workers sign up to join a union. Wild Rose, funded by the big oil companies and the big oil companies alone, is part of this business lobby to destroy unions.
Wait, is this actually a complaint that the Wildrose Alliance isn't planning on setting up an Albertan version of the horribly drafted Employee "Free Choice" Act. Maybe next you can grumble how Danielle Smith isn't proposing to have a beefy Italian man stand next to you in the voting booth and ask "are you SURE?" if your pencil gravitates too far from the NDP name, its essentially the same policy. Now look who's in favour of it: Big Unions, in partnership with Big Government proponents like Finkel here who was to destroy businesses of all shapes and sizes.

But wait, there's more. It turns out that the Wildrose Alliance is daring to actually define administration as the act of administering something. Whoa, Nelly!
While Wild Rose claims that it will respect the principles of the Canada Health Act, including public administration, it has a narrow understanding of “administration.” For them, as for the Tories, public administration does not mean public delivery of health. Here are the code words for privatization of health delivery from the Wild Rose policy book: “provide health care funding that will follow the service to the health care provider and approved facility of choice.” So the rich will be able to get the same basic services from a private health care provider, and then supplement that service out of their own money. With what result for the publicly funded health care system? More code words: Wild Rose will “encourage and support innovations in the delivery of health care.”
"The rich"? Who, other than a dumbass college professor who hasn't heard that Marx's class warfare meme has been dumped on like one of the girls from 2 Girls 1 Cup, would bring up "the rich"? Should I care what "the rich" do or don't do with their health? Some of these rich are my friends. Do I want to watch them suffer?

As for "code words", since when has this been a coded phrase for private healthcare (not that, of course, it would be a bad thing!)? Is this also a code phrase? It says basically the exact same thing:
will improve heath care services while keeping costs down.
Guess where I got that? From the Alberta NDP's own healthcare platform. Maybe Brian Mason is actually going to fight for private healthcare. Maybe he's not such a moron after all...

And will Wild Rose deal with gaps in the current health care system and fund the costs associated with an aging population? No. Their fiscal policy is to “limit growth in spending to the rate of inflation and population growth in Alberta.” As we know, that is the Ed Stelmach policy as well. It ignores the fact that, as a recent Parkland Institute study has reiterated, Alberta’s supposed current $4.3 billion deficit could be erased in two seconds if Alberta taxed corporations and individuals at rates similar to what other provinces tax. Indeed, the province could be as much as $20 billion richer than it currently is while still having essentially a free enterprise economy if it properly taxed the energy companies, reintroduced progressive taxation to replace Ralph Klein’s flat tax that no other province has seen fit to emulate, and introduced a small sales tax.
Okay, we can say pretty quickly that this guy's degree isn't in anything remotely related to mathematics, or economics, or some sort of profession where you can learn what kind of bullshit this is. First things first, Alberta absolutely in no way shape or form underspends on anything, let alone on healthcare. Meanwhile, increasing spending on healthcare quite explicitly doesn't do anything. Those in the Alberta left who are so keen on "democratic renewal" should maybe try playing around in Excel for a while first. It can print some very pretty graphs for you while the adults handle facts.

And whats this shit about "the province could be much as $20 billion richer than it currently is while still having essentially a free enterprise economy if it properly taxed the energy companies, reintroduced progressive taxation to replace Ralph Klein’s flat tax that no other province has seen fit to emulate, and introduced a small sales tax"? Maybe "the province" defined as the Albeta Government could be $20 billion richer, though that itself is unlikely. The province as defined as the aggregate sum of the governments and companies and organizations and individuals that reside or operate within Alberta, on the other hand, certainly would not be $20 billion richer. For one, excepting government and those who would be unemployed without money from under the dome, Alberta would quite clearly be at least $20 billion poorer. This, of course, assumes that under this regressive scheme we will be blessed with the same amount of economic activity we already obtained. This, of course, is silly. Its a big planet, and people like Finkel are amazed to learn that if we do things that companies don't like, they don't invest in Alberta. I'm sure the unions and the universities and the other assorted assmunches who propose stuff like this would enjoy that prospect, but the people of Alberta certainly wouldn't.

Either labour gets very involved in Alberta politics, pursuing a DRP-like strategy, or it allows Alberta, already something of an anomaly among Canadian provinces, to become a full-out Alabama with no labour movement worth speaking of.
Well, if those are our options than lets go to the Alabama model. Of course, those aren't our options. We can do better than Alabama. We are Alberta. We can do Alberta, but even better. And that, as I've said many times before, would make Alberta into the best country in the world.

That's democratic renewal for you. Not more union thuggery.