Alberta union leaders launch protest website against Kenney government

EDMONTON — Labour-union leaders are urging Albertans to sign up to protest Premier Jason Kenney’s government through rallies and demonstrations and, if necessary, provincewide general strikes.

Gil McGowan, head of the Alberta Federation of Labour, says Kenney’s United Conservative government is attacking the province's parks, workers, and the public health system.

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"We have no choice but to fight Jason Kenney and we’re asking all Albertans to join us," McGowan said Wednesday at a news conference at an Edmonton hotel.

McGowan was flanked by other union leaders as they launched a website called standuptokenney.ca.

The site asks Albertans to promise to take part in protests.

"The premier wants to frame opposition to his government as a battle between the UCP and so-called union bosses and NDP surrogates. But the truth is the UCP has picked fights with an unprecedented number of Alberta groups and individual Albertans regardless of their political stripe."

Hundreds of health support staff walked out on Monday over the government's plans to cut jobs and privatize some services at hospitals.

The workers returned to their jobs on Tuesday after the Alberta Labour Relations Board deemed their action illegal, but some surgeries had to be cancelled and rescheduled.

McGowan says the one-day protest showed that mass action can be effective.

Government house leader Jason Nixon called the website the latest disruptive, regressive action by McGowan. Nixon noted that the union leader has previously called for a boycott of businesses that support the UCP.

Nixon urged Opposition Leader Rachel Notley to denounce McGowan's actions, given what Nixon said are the organizational ties between the NDP and the labour federation.

"They (the AFL) are now calling for illegal strikes," said Nixon. "The official Opposition needs to condemn these behaviours.

"They have not condemned the behaviour of Gil McGowan to date."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020.

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