Bill 45 deserved to die. Kudos to Prentice for killing it.

One year ago, the PC Party was on verge of meltdown as Alison Redford resigned as leader and Premier. Since then, the political landscape has shifted so dramatically that the only significant thing that remains the same is the PC Party is still in government and will almost certainly extend its 44 year reign in the upcoming spring election.

Alberta Legislature Building Alison Redford

Thousands of Albertans protested the Redford Government’s anti-labour laws in November 2013.

Jim Prentice is being praised as a saviour by conservatives for turning around his party’s electoral fortunes, but he is no magician. Like each of his predecessors over the past 44 years, Mr. Prentice’s goal is to ensure the PC Party remains in government. And also like these predecessors, he is succeeding.

Most of Mr. Prentice’s success has been based on his ability to reverse many of Ms. Redford’s most unpopular decisions. And this week, with an election expected to be called soon, he announced the government would repeal the unpopular Bill 45: Public Sector Services Continuation Act.

Dave Hancock MLA Edmonton-Whitemud

Dave Hancock

Introduced into the Assembly by former minister Dave Hancock, the unnecessary and probably unconstitutional Bill 45 was part of Ms. Redford’s attack on public sector workers. The bill was passed with the support of 33 PC MLAs and one Wildrose MLA in December 2013 but was never proclaimed into law (five Wildrose MLAs, two New Democrats and one Liberal voted against it). If made into law, it would have significantly increased the fines for public sector strikes and made it illegal for any person to publicly suggest that government employees take job action.

The bill also appeared to give significant powers to the Minister of Human Services to issue fines to government employees if there has even been a hint of discussion about an illegal strike or strike threat.

Robin Campbell Alberta Finance Yellowhead

Robin Campbell

When the bill was passed in December 2013, one constitutional law expert told the National Post it was “ripe for challenge” to the Supreme Court of Canada. Athabasca University professor Bob Barnetson suggested that because free speech is protected by Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is unlikely that these sections Bill 45 would survive a challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada (court challenges had already been launched by United Nurses of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees).

Killing Bill 45 is only one step in repairing the government’s damaged relationship with its front-line workers. Five months ago, Mr. Prentice said he found low morale and high turnover in the public service “shocking.” But with Finance Minister Robin Campbell warning of 9 percent across the board funding cuts in next week’s provincial budget, it is difficult to see how Mr. Prentice plans to change this situation.

It remains embarrassing that so many of our elected officials supported this bill, but today Mr. Prentice deserves some kudos for committing to repeal Bill 45.


Wildrose Leadership Candidates

Wildrose Party leadership candidates Brian Jean, Linda Osinchuk and Drew Barnes.

Wildrose Party leadership candidates Drew Barnes, Brian Jean and Linda Osinchuk will be guests on the next AbVote Google Hangout on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Tune in to abvote.ca at 7:00 p.m. and ask questions to the candidates using the #abvote hashtag on Twitter.

11 thoughts on “Bill 45 deserved to die. Kudos to Prentice for killing it.

  1. mel

    Prentice is showing the socialist that he really is in abolishing 45. We will see more illegal activities like wildcat strikes from the unions now.

    Our public service is bloated and overpaid. This is bankrupting this province. It’s hard to see how making illegal strikes easier is going to solve this. It’s time to Crack down on organized labour.

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  2. Jerrymacgp

    So he announced he will repeal it; big deal. Anyone can announce anything. I won’t believe it until the repeal legislation is introduced, debated on, voted on and passed in the Legislature, and given Royal Assent. And IMHO that is unlikely to happen before the election writ is dropped.

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  3. Dave Cournoyer Post author

    @jerrymacgp – thanks for the comment. Prentice said at the press conference yesterday that it would be repealed before the election. I guess we will see if it is repealed next week, which is expected to be the last time the legislative assembly will sit before the next election.

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  4. Darren

    Not a bad move. In the current economic climate there would absolutely no general support from the public for any strike action by public sector workers. Any union strike would be met by an angry public backlash. The government takes all the credit for killing the bill and faces none of the anger or blame when a strike happens.

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  5. Bob Jaworski

    Darren is right. Any strike by a union would backfire on them, which might not be a bad thing given how much they cost us. Highest expenses on public services in the country. We can do better!

    And Dave. Dictionary.com says “socialist” means “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” In abolishing Bill 45, Prentice is siding with the collectivist unions, a very socialist idea. Shame on him!

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  6. JP

    The premier in my opinion is not choosing sides in this matter, he is just employing some “common sense” as there would be a very slim chance of overturning a supreme court of Canada decision.

    Bob, you might want to do some research, as we in Alberta have just about the highest expenses on most items in our country save fuel costs at the service station.

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  7. Dave

    Yes, in this case Prentice is continuing to clean up the mess made by others. I do partly blame his predecessor for this, but as is pointed out many other PC’s happily went along with and defended this poorly written and ill conceived law. Some of these are still in the government. I hope they have learned from this fiasco, but I have doubts about that.

    I think Prentice is actually using good political judgement here. It really costs him nothing to repeal a badly written law that would likely get struck down if they tried to enforce it. It may also buy him a bit of good will with unions, which he will very soon need when he goes to them with his plan for layoffs or cut backs.

    There will be some people on the right wing fringe that will be unhappy with this and perhaps even consider this socialist, but I suspect most of them are already supporting the right wing fringe party instead. More centrist voters will see this as the sensible move it is.

    Only in Alberta can a PC be so popular by cleaning up previous PC messes.

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  8. Claire

    I disagree with Dave. I’m usually a Liberal voter and I disagree with repealing Bill 45. Why should taxpayers be paying for illegal strikes by rogue union bosses? They should play by the rules like the rest of us and not expect Martha and Henry’s children to pay for their scare tactics.

    Bring back 45.

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  9. Mike

    Seems a little Union education is called for here after viewing some of these comments!
    I don’t think you have to worry about illegal strikes, unions want a fair deal at the bargaining table, it’s only when a government or business decides to not honour a workers right to negotiate a strike may be reluctantly called for. Historically strikes have been ineffective since the 70’s and unions know that. Strikes are costly to us too!
    As for the “Union Bosses” comment, Union Members tell our elected representatives what do not the other way around. Did I mention unions are non profit as well? My “Union Boss” works hard and earns every penny.
    As for Jim Prentice pulling Bill 45, it was unconstitutional and unwinnable in the Supreme Court and condemned by the UN itself. I see pulling Bill 45 as cooling tactic to not give union members an excuse to smear the PC’s in the media over it.

    Reply

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