Saturday, December 09, 2006

Labour Liberal

Before the advent of Labour Parties in Canada, parties made up of trade unionists, labour rights MP's and MLA's ran for existing parties either Liberal or Conservative as hyphenated labour candidates. Thus you would have Labour Liberals or Labour Tories.

See my essay's;
Edmonton Labour Council in Municipal Politics 1903-1960 and Edmonton 1919

Today in Alberta we have such a MLA in Dan Backs who was kicked out of the Liberals and sits as and independent. Perhaps we can call him Independent Labour Liberal.

He was the outspoken voice of the Building Trades unions in the Liberal Caucus. The Building Trades like the Alberta Teachers Association are the labour backbone of the Alberta Liberals. They are the aristocracy of Labour, they are professionals with all the associational power of a union, and more, they are the creme de la creme of professional specialization. Thus they are able to become bosses as well as workers, and their politics reflects this petit-bourgoies class.

But as a political backbone of the Alberta Liberal Party they are expected to be supportive but silent. To gain power they must play the leadership game, make a leader or elect one. And they have done neither.

Business or other special interests get Liberal attention, indeed are given voice by the Liberals, where they remain silent is on Labour. Despite Labours support. Which is why the NDP exist, but for the old craft unions and their professional counterparts, the Liberals are their natural home.

Witness the support for Martin, no not by Johnny Come Lately Buzz Hargrove, nope the General Workers Union of Toronto. This construction union, one of the largest in the province of Ontario was the backbone of the Liberal campaign in T.O.

So when brash newly elected MLA Backs decided to shake things up and become the outspoken voice of Labour in the Liberals, he was unceremoniously turfed. Here was an MLA with ties to the Building Trades, and who actively supported them in the Legislature over issues like forgeign workers, minimum wages, working conditions, etc.

So it turns out turfing him was a mistake, bigger than the Federal Conservatives didwhen they turfed outspoken Garth Turner. Because Blacks was quoted in the press as a Labour critic and the "official opposition" Liberals weren't. They have lost their voice of labour.

Alberta labour laws blasted

Alberta's NDP blasted the Tory government over its antiquated labour laws yesterday, signalling the end of premier-designate Ed Stelmach's honeymoon.

Ray Martin took the government to task for its failure to introduce first-contract legislation after a series of prolonged and violent strikes.

Martin said the lack of a law requiring mandatory arbitration of new union contracts has created another "ugly" labour dispute at the Palace Casino.

Independent Liberal Dan Backs, who introduced a private members bill to address the issue last year, said that if it had passed there wouldn't be several hundred casino workers facing the prospect of Christmas on the picket line and a conflict in the "economic engine" of West Edmonton Mall.

"It's clear that if there would have been first contract legislation that I proposed last year that we wouldn't be having this sort of problem," he said.


Dumb Move

Kevin Taft




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