PRESS RELEASE: AFL commits to act as “catalyst and convenor” to jump start campaign to keep Alberta in CPP

Campaign needs to be led by Albertans, not Trudeau, says McGowan

EDMONTON – Alberta needs a robust campaign to counter the dangerous and misleading efforts being made by the Smith government to pull the province out of the Canada Pension Plan.

But that campaign needs to be led by Albertans, not Prime Minister Trudeau, says the president of Alberta’s largest worker advocacy group.

“We need a ‘remain’ campaign – a campaign to keep Alberta in the Canada Pension Plan,” said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan to a crowd of 1,000 registered nurses gathered in Edmonton to attend the annual general meeting of the United Nurses of Alberta.

“But that campaign needs to come from Alberta, not Ottawa. It needs to be Albertans who lead the charge. It needs to be Albertans who debunk the myths and challenge the lies. It needs to be Albertans who push back and defend our own retirement security.”

McGowan delivered the AFL’s commitment to act as a “catalyst and convenor” for a provincewide campaign the day after Prime Minister Trudeau sent a letter to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith warning that he wouldn’t stand by “while anyone seeks to weaken the pensions and reduce the retirement income of Canadians, including Albertans.”

While McGowan welcomed the Prime Minister’s comments, he said Trudeau “cannot and should not” lead efforts within Alberta to keep the province in CPP.

“That would play right into Danielle Smith’s hands,” said McGowan. “She WANTS a fight with Justin Trudeau – and she’s willing to play politics with our pensions to get it. But just because Danielle Smith wants to frame this as a fight with Ottawa doesn’t mean we have to grant her wish.”

McGowan says the “remain” campaign will not be just a union effort. Instead, he says the AFL will act as a “catalyst and convenor” to bring together the thousands of Alberta groups and individuals who oppose the UCP government’s pension scheme.

“We can’t let the Smith government continue spreading misinformation, distortions and outright lies unopposed. Someone has to step up to the plate,” said McGowan. “We will organize the Remain campaign that Albertans have been waiting for! If not us, who? If not now, when?”

In the coming days, McGowan says Albertans can expect to see things like a campaign website and perhaps digital ads. Efforts will also be made to organize in-person town hall meetings, in contrast to the tightly controlled telephone town halls held by the government.

“At this point, I don’t know exactly what the campaign will look like,” said McGowan. “But the main point is that there will be a campaign. We’ll make sure of that. Our approach will be like the famous line out of the 1980s movie Field of Dreams: Build it and they will come. We will build it. And Albertans will come. We are confident of that.”

Media availability: McGowan will be available this morning to talk to reporters after his address to the UNA AGM, which is being held the Expo Centre in Edmonton. McGowan is slated to address delegates at 10 am.


Click here to read the full speech.

John Ashton
Director of Communications, AFL