Alberta MLAs debate controversial labour bills

MLAs started debate on Bills 45 and 46, the labour laws that unions say are undemocratic.
NDP leader Brian Mason says he will resist the legislation if passed. (Alberta Legislature )

MLAs started debate on two controversial labour bills at the Alberta legislature on Monday night.

Bill 46 would impose a wage settlement with a two-year pay freeze if the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees fails to reach an agreement by the end of January.

Bill 45 would increase daily fines to $1 million a day for unions that strike illegally.

The legislation has been opposed by opposition parties -- even the right wing Wildrose Party, which sent a press release on Monday opposing Bill 46 and suggesting amendments to Bill 45 that would protect the rights of workers to speak out against the government. 

Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson said that Bill 45 was "complete legislative overkill" and said that legislation already exists to prohibiting illegal strikes. 

He also said the legislation goes too far by making it illegal for someone to threaten a strike. 

"You're not going to cause fewer illegal strikes with these two bills," Anderson said. "You're actually laying the groundwork for more."

NDP leader Brian Mason said the bills are the government’s attempt to intimidate working Albertans. If passed, he said bill 45 should be defeated or overturned by the courts.

“I am prepared to resist this bill in order to defend the rights of all Albertans to freedom of speech and freedom of association,” Mason told the legislature.

“Mr. Speaker, I will not be bound by the provisions of this bill if it is passed into law.”

The debate continued past 10:30 Monday night.

Earlier in the day, unions protested the bills for the third time in a week outside the Alberta legislature.

At least one person was removed during the debate after shouting broke out in the public gallery.


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