Commentary – For Kenney, the key to Alberta’s success is to exploit Alberta workers

Tom Henihan

With every passing day, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney’s credibility issues become more apparent.

What is it about conservative politics in general that Kenney has been caught lying again, this time while trying to justify cutting overtime compensation for Alberta workers.

When asked about a point in the UCP platform at a news conference on April 1, again Kenney resorted to blatant falsehoods.

The question related to a UCP platform item that would allow employers to revert to a system of compensating employees on parity for the overtime hours they worked.

This would rescind the current system put in place by the NDP at the beginning of 2018, which obliges employers to compensate employees time-and-a-half in lieu of every hour of banked overtime.

“This does not affect overtime pay, I repeat it does not diminish or affect overtime pay, says Kenney. “This was brought forward at the request of primarily people who work in the hospitality industry.”

To say this does not diminish or affect overtime pay is pure semantics, as it affects overtime compensation, if not actually pay.

It is also misleading when Kenney says that people who work in the hospitality industry brought this platform item forward, as the people who “work in the hospitality industry” are not necessarily people who work in the hospitality industry.

Kenney also said his regressive policy on overtime compensation is still in place.

“I think, in virtually every other province,” when in fact seven provinces and three territories share Alberta’s current edict of time-and-a-half off for every hour of overtime worked.

If Kenney is not deliberately lying about issues, the only plausible answer is that he is woefully misinformed; even it appears as to how many provinces he thinks are in Canada.

After almost 20 years in Ottawa, Kenney appears to have little affinity for contemporary Alberta, setting a divisive agenda that pits young workers against older workers, seasonal employees against permanent employees, and Alberta against Canada.

We have seen this overly simplistic, blustery approach to solving problems before, and we know that it leads nowhere but to a negative, acrimonious mindset in politics and in public discourse.

Under Kenney, the UCP’s approach to governing Alberta is not a forward-looking vision: it is essentially nostalgia for a time when the political and business elite had carte blanche when deciding who will be the principal beneficiaries of Alberta’s resource wealth.

If Kenney has his way, the beneficiaries will not include ordinary working Albertans, as almost every proposal he makes suggests that business and industry in this province can only prosper by imposing regressive, exploitive measures on their employees.

In Kenney’s view, paying employees is a necessary evil, so every measure should be taken to frustrate their circumstances and diminish any expectations they might have of a decent living for themselves and their families.


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