Excitement is running high as union leaders and activists gather in Calgary before an election that could transform Alberta – AFL

Delegates to AFL convention wonder: will the power of working people finally trump the power of the wealthy and well-connected?

CALGARY – Leaders from most of Alberta’s major unions will gather in Calgary this week, in the midst of a provincial election campaign in which their main issues have suddenly become pivotal and their preferred candidates are set to make major gains.

We’ve been saying for nearly a decade that Alberta has a tax and royalty system that overwhelmingly favours big corporations and the wealthy,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said on the eve of the AFL’s biennial convention. “Suddenly our issues and proposals for reform are being talked about by thousands and thousands of voters and many of the party leaders. To say that we’re excited and hopeful would be an understatement.

The AFL’s 2015 convention – titled “Dream No Little Dreams” – starts Thursday morning, April 16, and wraps on Sunday, April 19. The event is being held at the Calgary Convention Centre (South Building- McLeod Hall).

Highlights of the Convention include:

  • AFL president Gil McGowan will address the convention about the AFL’s cheeky and much-discussed Better Way Alberta campaign, which many observers agree has “primed the pump” for the current debate that’s raging on corporate taxes.
    Thursday, April 16 – 10:40 a.m.
  • Dr. Alex Himelfarb, the former Clerk of the Privy Council (the top bureaucrat for the federal government), whose new book, “Tax is NOT a four-letter word”, makes the case for higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for quality public services.
    Thursday, April 16 – 2:30 p.m.
  • Childcare Resource and Research unit director Martha Friendly will make the case that Canada needs a national child care program.
    Friday, April 17 – 9:30 a.m.
  • Former director of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate Rolf Wiborg will present a case for a publicly-owned energy corporation to champion value-added development in the oil sands. Wiborg, a petroleum engineer with more than 40 years working in Norway’s oil industry, is a leading expert in managing petroleum wealth.
    On Friday, April 17 – 10:35 a.m.
  • Former Canadian ambassador to the UN Stephen Lewis will speak about the upcoming Federal election, and make the case for why Canadians need to rise up against Stephen Harper and take their country back.
    On Saturday, April 18 – 2:10 p.m.

Delegates will also debate plans for helping progressive candidates “get over the top” in the current provincial election campaign.

This is a crucial moment for working people. We think ordinary citizens in this province have finally reached the point where they’re ready to say: “enough is enough” McGowan said. This is shaping up to be the election we’ve all been waiting for: the election in which the power of working people finally trumps the power of the wealthy and the well-connected. At our convention, we’re going to make sure we do everything we can to take advantage of this historic opportunity.


Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail