The government's new adviser on upcoming public sector negotiations is in a conflict of interest because he was once a negotiator for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Wildrose party says.
Kevin Davediuk's appointment by Premier Rachel Notley was announced Tuesday through an order-in-council.
The Wildrose says Davediuk was still listed on the AUPE website as its number two negotiator on Wednesday morning.
Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt says this puts Davediuk in a conflict of interest. He says there are close ties between the NDP and AUPE, which he calls a "politically-charged union."
"This is little better than hiring the fox to guard the henhouse," Fildebrandt said. "There's no way for taxpayers to have any serious assurance that we're going to be getting proper value for money.
"What we want is the government's negotiator to be unquestionably on the side of taxpayers, the employer here."
The government is defending the appointment. Notley's spokeswoman Cheryl Oates said Davediuk has 25 years experience and has worked for private and public health care employers.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci said repeatedly that Davediuk was the best person for the job, because he is known as a solid negotiator who has the respect of unions and employers.
Davediuk stepped down from AUPE on Monday but Ceci said there is no conflict of interest.
"There's no real conflict," he told reporters."There's a perception of conflict."
However, Ceci said that Davediuk would have to recuse himself from certain issues he worked on with AUPE.
"We won't have him on those files but we will have him looking out for the best interests of taxpayers," Ceci said.
"There are parts of negotiations that he has done in the past that he can't be involved with.
"But there is a lot of work we need to do in many unions that are coming up over the next few years in particular that need to be settled, having the best person to make those things happen is in all of our best interest."
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, lauded the appointment.
"Upcoming negotiations will require a particularly experienced and deft touch given the need to balance revenue shortfalls with sustaining a strong public service to stabilize the economy," he said in a news release.
There was no open competition for the position. Davediuk was appointed by the premier.