When it comes to Premier Kenney, many conservatives around the province are suffering a severe case of buyer’s remorse. It’s easy to see why. On a variety of issues, he has not performed as advertised.
The latest example is a real head scratcher.
Back during the 2019 election, UCP candidates including myself campaigned on a promise to, “Protect workers from being forced to fund political parties and causes without explicit opt-in approval.”
For far too long, union members have been forced to fund political advertising for candidates and causes they personally oppose. We argued that this is fundamentally unfair, and the majority of Albertans agreed with us.
Following the election, the government brought in Bill 32, the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act. This bill, in part, required labour organization to offer their members the opportunity to opt in or out of spending on political activities.
The bill was debated and passed by the Legislature, with third reading being approved more than a year ago, way back on July 28, 2020. The government was more than happy to take a victory lap on its passage.
There’s just one problem: the opt-in provision of the legislation was never enacted.
As a direct result many union members may find themselves unwilling donors to various campaigns in the lead up to this fall’s equalization referendum, municipal elections, senate elections, and daylight saving time referendum.
As broken campaign promises go, this is a big one. In Alberta, there are more than 300,000 unionized workers. Proceeds from their union dues are already active in the run up to the municipal elections.
It didn’t have to be this way. At the stroke of a pen, at any point over the past year, the Premier could have complied with both the will of the legislature and the public. He chose not to.
The time for stalling, or hiding behind the fine print, is over. The Premier needs to take a day off from his political rehabilitation tour and take immediate steps to ensure Bill 32 is fully implemented. The horse may be out of the barn for the October campaign, but the government has a duty to respect the will of the Legislature and ensure this never happens again.
A promise is a promise.
Drew Barnes, Independent MLA