Question Period? Really?

How much longer do we have to put up with this nonsense?

The Alberta Legislature has been in session for eight days and the UCP is using Question Period to test-drive political slogans.

1504886984-300w_300h_kenney

Jason Kenney UCP leader

Ms Soapbox’s personal favourite is the UCP’s claim: “We lead, they follow”.

The UCP’s “lead” translates into something you’d hear from an unimaginative cheer leading squad: “Go Alberta, Fight! Fight! Fight!

Lead already!

The UCP wants the NDP to follow its “lead”, particularly with respect to pipelines.  It wants Premier Notley and her ministers to:

  • insult and threaten the federal government and other provinces. And this is effective, how?
  • punish Burnaby for delaying the Trans Mountain pipeline by convincing Telus to move to Alberta. Telus opened its global headquarters in Vancouver (not Burnaby) in 2015.  It’s a $750 million LEED platinum standard building.  Any CEO who sauntered into a board room and said: “Guys, let’s blow this pop stand and move to Alberta” would be fired on the spot.  But hey, Brad Wall tried it so it’s got to be a good idea, right?
  • retaliate against BC by putting tariffs on Alberta’s interprovincial exports. This would have the same impact as an unexpected tax hike, reducing expected returns for Alberta producers and creating unnecessary uncertainty.  It would also violate the New West Partnership Trade Agreement between BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba which created the largest, barrier-free interprovincial market in Canada.  Nice move UCP. 
  • sue the feds, sue BC, sue somebody, anybody over pipeline delays or cancellations. It’s unclear what the UCP wants to do other than hire a flotilla of lawyers to start a bunch of law suits that would cost a fortune and drag on for years, however this didn’t stop the UCP from trying to take the credit when Alberta intervened in support of Trans Mountain’s application asking the NEB for a constitutional ruling on whether Burnaby could delay construction at the Burnaby and Westridge Marine terminals.  The intervention involves the doctrines of interjurisdictional immunity and paramountcy.  It’s a little presumptuous to assume the government was not planning to intervene simply because it didn’t do so immediately.           
  • take an aggressive stance on renegotiating equalization when it expires in 2019. This is a tad ironic given that the GDP growth rate rule which was introduced under the Harper/Kenney “lead” in 2009 will give Ontario an additional $360 million and Quebec an additional $215 million than they would otherwise receive.*  Frankly, anything the Notley government does on this file will be an improvement.

Question Period

Ms Soapbox and about 10 other people across the province are keen Question Period observers.

We know QP is adversarial:  the Opposition will fly into high dudgeon and play “gotcha”, the government will spar with the Opposition, correct “misstatements” and make speeches.  We get that, but we do expect a bit more substance from the UCP than we’ve seen to date.

The expression “we lead, they follow” may be a cute political slogan, but as a UCP Opposition tactic it’s coming across as “we have a tantrum, they press on”.

*Hansard, Nov 8, 2017, p 1823

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53 Responses to Question Period? Really?

  1. Morbeau says:

    Like Trump, Kenney has huge potential.

  2. papajaxn says:

    Have recently returned from travel in Europe. The Schipol airport has developed some ingenious ways to keep the washrooms cleaner. Now that the U C P is wanting to leave their mark on the political scene in Alberta perhaps they could ask in question period to have the legislature washrooms fitted with similar targets so they can get their message straight. https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.reddit.com/r/mildlyinteresting/comments/4ssja4/this_urinal_in_netherlands_has_a_golf_flag_to_aim/&ved=0ahUKEwiM3POGv7rXAhVLw2MKHfVbDiMQFgh7MBA&usg=AOvVaw2ZDOLnR2v_9Yz8xBAD3cgl

    I suspect this is beyond “Good taste” but “little men” who want to be top dog have to put their mark along the political path. I don’t expect you to share this comment.

    Bruce Jackson

    • Bruce, yes, it’s a little crude, but apparently giving men something to aim at actually helps keep bathrooms clean. There are all sorts of analogies one can draw from this…for example giving the voters a target (eg outing kids who join GSAs) will deflect them from the real purpose (appeasing one’s far right base)

  3. Keith McClary says:

    They could nationalize (provincialize?) Telus facilities in Alberta and call it “Alberta Government Telephones”.

    • Good one Keith! AGT was founded as a public utility in 1906. It became a crown corporation in 1990 when the PCs began to privatize it. They created Telus to facilitate the privatization and in 1998 Telus merged with BC Tel and moved its head office from Edmonton to Vancouver. It’s funny when you think about it because AGT operated in the height of the PC’s Alberta Advantage–low corporate taxes, no sales tax, and a tough attitude towards unions, and yet the company pulled up stakes and moved to BC where taxes were higher, PST was due and unions held considerable sway. (OK, I’m being sarcastic, it’s not funny at all, it’s another example of the Alberta Advantage not being the economic driver Kenney and the UCP say it is).

      • mike klein says:

        Speaking of AGT, interestingly I had occasion to compare from personal use experience AGT, then Telus to SaskTel technology. It took almost exactly 20 years for Telus service, even in suburban Calgary, to catch up to SaskTel technology in small town Saskatchewan.

        Not that that’s either here or there, but in this one instance, Alberta did not have a great advantage.

      • ronmac says:

        Better yet why not nationalize -or “albertaize”- all private liquor outlets and call it the ALCB

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Better Yet – why not get the real value for what we sell if we have to? This idea of spending millions of dollars under the Alberta Advantage tiring song and then give it away for peanuts so that the corporations can claim how many billions they are investing in Alberta is totally bogus. In fact no new technology has ever been developed in North America that was not started with our tax dollars and then become big cash cows for private interests.
        Furthermore stop this total absurd of not paying royalties until the investment is not paid – give that to the citizens as well. I would love to buy a house and not pay interests at all – NICE IS IT NOT?
        Finally there is a push for the Federal Government to release the true amount of subsidies given to the coal/ oil industry – they do not want to let us know – AMAZING – so much for the sunny ways. I would call it the Corp Ways.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Good for you Keith – what a novel idea – oh yes we forgot that is communism !!
      The other way around is GREAT business decisions. We really have to examine considering ourselves the smartest animals on Earth.

      • Mike, ronmac and Carlos: you’ve all raised many good points here which can be summarized as (1) sometimes a public utility should stay public, (2) if it makes sense to privatize a public utility, it’s critical (and good government) that the government gets full value for the utility and (3) when the government subsidizes start-up private corporations it should recoup its investment. I understand that sometimes a start-up needs to delay repaying a government loan/subsidy, however the cost of this delay (time-value of money) should be included in the amount that is to be repaid.
        All of this requires a government that is focused on looking out for the best interests of the people, not corporations.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Susan that is the MOST important point – the now almost foreign idea that Government is to represent the citizens NOT corporations.
        This idea that government should serve the rich and corporations was hammered into our heads in the last 30 years. Young people are often amazed with what Bernie Sanders is saying because they never heard it. Furthermore in Canada no one is saying anything despite the fact that we think we are more progressive then the US. I think we are on the surface.

  4. Ed Henderson says:

    Quote…””We know QP is adversarial””. Oh Oh..my mistake, I thought Question period was when many politicians had an opportunity to show how dumb and selfish they really are, especially when answering inquiries.

    • Ed, there have been many attempts to improve Question Period, notably a motion introduced by the conservative MP Michael Chong which called for (1) elevating decorum and strengthening the Speaker’s power to maintain discipline, (2) giving more time to answer questions, (3) forcing ministers to respond to the questions asked of them, (4) allocating half the questions each day to backbenchers, (5) dedicating Wednesdays to questions of the Prime Minister and (6) dedicating the rest of the week to questions to ministers other than the PM. The motion passed 235 to 44 but the committee appointed to study these changes did not finish its work before Harper called the election in May 2015 and the whole thing died…which is a real shame!

  5. J.E.Molnar says:

    Truth be known, QP became increasingly hostile once the disgruntled conservative factions in Alberta (Wildrose and PCs) failed to form government in 2015. It appears the right is suffering from bouts of SLS (sore loser syndrome).

    Another Jason Kenney promise has gone by the wayside when he promised that his band of angry conservative miscreants would reduce the amount of “argy-bargy” in chambers once he became leader of the UCP. So far, Albertans are still waiting for parliamentary decorum to return — I for one am not holding my breath.

    • J.E. I’ve also noticed the government gradually slipping into some less than productive behaviors. Last week Rachel Notley called out some opposition MLAs for “mansplaining” and “hespeak”. Having worked in a primarily male environment most of my life I completely understand why she did it, even if it went against the expected standards of decorum. As you said, the Legislature became a rougher place after the disgruntled conservatives found themselves on the “wrong” side of the aisle.

      • J.E. Molnar says:

        Susan by your response, am I to take it then that when men who purposely condescend to female MLAs in the Legislature that they should never receive appropriate rebukes? Given the steady diet of misogyny by the right, I would argue otherwise. But I do appreciate your point that parliamentary decorum is lacking on both sides of the aisle.

      • J.E. I’ll admit I was of two minds on this one. “Mansplaining” is such a new term its meaning is not yet settled. Greg Clark objected to it because he thought Notley was accusing him of sexism. Ganley said the word applies when a man talks to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner. If Notley called Clark a sexist that would have crossed the decorum line, but if she meant his question was condescending she’d be free to call him on it. I’ve gone back and re-read Hansard (Nov 7, 1779). Clark’s question was definitely condescending. I don’t know Notley well but I don’t think she was calling Clark a sexist so upon reflection I accept your position–men who purposely condescend to female MLAs in the Leg should receive the appropriate rebukes.
        Okay, now I have to find the “hespeak” comment to see if I’ll reverse myself on that one too. 🙂

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan and J.E. For years, I have noticed Alberta Question Period get uglier and nastier. The Speaker needs to clamp down. I don’t know if anything will be done about this.

      • Dwayne, Alberta’s Speaker said he’d call out by name any MLA who acts inappropriately. This is a good start, but sometimes it’s not clear who the heckler is and other times the MLAs are making so much noise that the Speaker may as well name the entire caucus. Another suggestion is to ban clapping and standing ovations because these eat up valuable time which could be spent asking more questions or providing longer answers. Like I said, we all know QP is adversarial, but it shouldn’t be a blood sport.

  6. jerrymacgp says:

    Have no illusions… QP has never been sedate. The distance between the Government & Opposition benches has traditionally been “two sword lengths” for good reason. However, until the federal House of Commons, and then all of the provincial & territorial legislatures each in turn, began being televised in real time starting in 1977, few Canadians had ever seen it for themselves. There have been times when the questions were probing, intelligent and witty, and others when they have been asinine and condescending, but it has always been adversarial. That is its function: holding the Crown’s advisors (which was the historical role of the PM/Premier & Cabinet; hence the term “Privy Council”) to account. (As an aside, imagine how different things might be south of the border, if The Donald and his Cabinet had to sit in the House and be grilled by the Democrats…).

    I am entertained by some of the ideas spewing out of the mouths of Messrs Kenney et al., in terms of pipelines (“build them, or else, the objections of your local populace be damned!”), of equalization (as though they didn’t know that equalization has no affect at all on Alberta public finances), of “parental rights” (the rights of homophobic parents to throw their gay children out, or send them to deprogramming camps, or physically abuse them???), and (this is the funniest one) simply attacking the “socialist NDP”. Socialist? Really?

    A socialist government would have nationalized the electricity grid, ending the Klein-era’s disastrous experiment in electricity deregulation. Has the Notley government done that? A socialist government would have reversed the 1990s privatization of beverage alcohol retailing, and set up a parallel public system for legal cannabis retailing when it begins next year. Has the Notley government done that? A socialist government would have abolished private medical practices and services like diagnostic imaging, and made physicians employees of the State (or AHS,which is just the State at arms-length). Has the Notley government done that? These and many more are actions a truly socialist government would no doubt have taken. Has the Notley government done any of it? Of course not. They have in fact governed from a pragmatic, moderate, centrist and incrementalist perspective, with nary a hint of socialism.

    • Dwayne says:

      jerrymacgp & Susan: We cannot get rid of deregulation of utilities in Alberta. We are stuck with this very costly mistake by the Alberta PCs.

  7. Ernie S. says:

    I for one am privileged that we have a true leader and true conservative like Jason Kenney stepping forward. My only criticism is that he is a bit left wing on the economic issues. We should immediately bring in right to work legislation in Alberta and balance the budget the first year. It makes no sense putting debt like this onto future generations.

    Premier Kenney will take at least 70 of 87 seats, mark my words. It will be up to the province to ensure that he doesn’t drift to the left like past leaders did!

    • Ernie, I was originally going to respond to this comment by saying we will agree to disagree, however I just saw your response to another comment on a previous post and have blocked you; not because we disagree but because your comment was disrespectful.

    • Dwayne says:

      Ernie S. I can’t see that happening. Because of the makeup of the UCP. The politicians in it have a suspect history and articulate themselves in an inappropriate manner.

  8. Great points Jerry. The conservative MP Jay Hill blames the rowdiness of QP on the media, He says the Reform Party tried to improve decorum when they became the Third Party in 1993. They asked thoughtful questions and sat silently while the government responded but the media said they were ineffective and naive and their own supporters wondered why they didn’t see their Reform MPs on the nightly news. He concludes “We soon found out that in the House of Commons, like in many other places of work, it is inevitable that people bring themselves and their behaviour down to the lowest common denominator”. That comment about the “lowest common denominator’ is very telling isn’t it.
    I agree with everything you’ve said about the Notley government. The voters need to think for themselves instead of jumping on the Kenney red-scare bandwagon.

  9. NOTICE TO READERS: I’ve noticed an increase in comments attacking me or other readers who post comments on this blog. While I don’t expect us to agree on everything (we’re talking about politics after all), disrespectful or ad hominem comments will not be tolerated.

  10. mikegklein says:

    Remember Poilievre, Kenney et all when in government? They answered nothing, not HOC Question Period questions, journalists’ questions and as far as I am aware, citizens’ questions. Well, they did use words, but the words were simply meant to insult and intimidate. They’re still doing it but now from the opposition benches and asking questions with exactly the same attempt to insult and intimidate, never to engage in actual dialogue or conversation.

    Yet, somehow they attract a favourable audience and voter support. Are Canadians really that much attracted to pub-style loud-mouthed bullies?

    Does not speak well for the future of the country.

    • I agree Mike. This “insult and intimidate” tactic attracts hordes of supporters, but I take heart in the recent Calgary municipal election. The conservatives running in the municipal election were nowhere near as negative as the UCP but Calgarians were repelled by their attacks on the incumbents, so much so that every single incumbent was re-elected. In fact, the smart candidates in vacant wards made a huge effort to separate themselves from supporters who launched over-the-top attacks.
      Based on what I’ve seen from Kenney and the rest of the UCP I don’t think they’ve learned anything from the Calgary experience.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: This is not effective in any way, whatsoever. Trying to bash the federal government does not do anything good. Childish tantrums and no solutions from the UCP.

  12. John Roggeveen says:

    If any party can claim “we lead, they follow”, it’s the Alberta Liberals. See, e.g., GSAs and PACs. Yes, I’m biased. But thems the facts.

    • John, you may be biased but you’re absolutely correct.

      The Alberta Liberals have been working on GSAs since Kent Hehr sponsored Motion 503. The conservatives attacked it as being “anti-Christian” and “pro-gay”. Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman tried again with Bill 202 and Premier Prentice responded in a Harper-like fashion by curtailing debate and proffering his own bill, which was terribly flawed. That brings us to the NDP’s GSA legislation which the conservatives still oppose.

      I’d share your admiration of Alberta Liberal Party leader Dave Kahn who worked tirelessly to push the PAC issue on to the government’s agenda and succeeded.

      Before we leave the topic of the Liberal’s contribution to our democracy we must mention David Swann who has a huge job and yet is one of the few MLAs who asks respectful questions and makes thoughtful comments about any issue before the House.

  13. carlosbeca says:

    Question Period?
    The UCP does not have questions – PERIOD – they know it all and if you are not happy – well I am sorry just swallow it.

    In fact I totally disagree with question period. The legislature should be always question period and the back benches should have the same access as anybody else. Time for real democracy is more than overdue.

    Jason Kenney does not understand Question Period or any of that. He, like Klein, despises the legislature and considers it a big waste of time.

    To be honest I think that I have to agree with him this one time because in its present form the Legislature is useless – they might as well call the oil companies CEOS to run it directly rather than with messengers or money under the table or a more modern concept an account in the Bahamas.

    Seems like even our Federal Finance Minister is in the bandwagon – My goodness
    Soon we will be running the corrupt world partnership. We have certainly made great progress in terms of corruption and inequality the two very important indexes to join the club.

  14. Carlos, with respect to your comment about corporations running government from the shadows, I just started reading Nancy MacLean’s book Democracy in Chains. She’s a historian who sets out how people like the Koch brothers used the theories of libertarian economists like F.A. Hayek to damage the institutions of democracy.
    I just started the book. It’s fascinating and depressing and underlines why we have to do everything we can to (1) stop the incursion of US style attacks on democracy (things like PACs and laws that say corporations have the right to bankroll politicians) and (2) support political parties that protect the public interest, not make it subservient to corporate interests.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Well first of all I am going to read that book so thank you for letting me know. I had not heard of it.
      Secondly I think that what you said about the parties is absolutely right but we have to create those parties. I do not see at provincial or Federal levels any party ready to take the tsunami of insults and open war that the extreme right wing is going to do to destroy them. I do not think any of the parties is morally ready to accept that including the NDP. I truly believe there is an attack on democracy and I do not care the calls of paranoid I have been labeled with. I think that is part of the strategy. The fact of the matter is that democracy is failing in most of the Western world and we seem to be in the frog syndrome. Interestingly enough I noticed that in the US Elizabeth Warren seems to have joined forces with Bernie Sanders. Something is happening there. She made an absolute horrible mistake joining Hillary Clinton and I was appalled she actually chose that route. A person as smart as Elizabeth Warren should have understood how important the Bernie Sanders politics is to the US. She was politically way closer to him than Hillary Clinton who was nothing but the very rich democratic representative with very similar objectives except less crazy in terms of behavior..

  15. midgelambert says:

    Thanks Susan Spot on, as always.
    2 comments:
    1.Some friends of mine, who have never been to #ableg before, were introduced the other day before QP, a few days after the break where Jason Kenney was elected leader of UCP. Being curious, they decided to stay for a few questions and left in disgust after the first couple, because “they were being such A*****S, from BOTH SIDES OF THE HOUSE”.
    2. Seems to me (I’m a QP nerd) that since Kenney took charge of that caucus, the outrage has ramped up out of sight. I almost think that UCP caucus holds a little “outrage rally” every morning before session, much like Walmart employees do their little employee motivation rallies at staff meetings. Prizes to the loudest outrage for the week.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      You got that right Midge. The UCP is not in the business of democratically running the province. Their objective is to destroy the opposition and turn the province into of a sub-state of Corporations even deeper than already is.
      I am sure there are great payoffs for doing that. The fact is that if one strongly believes, like they do, that government is an obstacle on the way to their promised land, then its destruction is inevitable. Of course they never mention this because they know that the brain washing for total destruction of government is not completed yet, but they are certainly very successfully progressing towards it. Of course citizens inebriated in beer, hockey and smartphones do not even know what is happening until they realize they have a dictatorship on their backs, which of course for people of the UCP kind it is just the only way that there is. Their way or you are suffocated.
      The biggest issue here is that Canadians never lived under a true democratic system and so they think that having a free voting system is all you need to keep freedom. Well that is not the case. We are already a compassionate dictatorship if you think of the powers our prime minister.

    • “A QP nerd”, I love it Midge.
      You make an interesting point when you talked about your friends attending QP. It’s pretty undisciplined when you watch it online but it’s even worse when you see it in person.
      An NDP MLA told me the worst thing she’d witnessed was when a member of the UCP asked a number of questions about the investigation into the death of Serenity and after he finished he turned around to face his caucus and smirked because he thought he’d scored some points. QP should be about holding the Government accountable, not scoring points for your side.

  16. Dave says:

    UCP talk about the Alberta Advantage. Their cousins and in particular Ralf Klein gave Alberta an infrastructure deficit for infrastructure that was badly needed over 20 years ago. He didn’t complete highway 63 that was needed over 20 years ago, didn’t build any schools which 15 new schools are budgeted for now, didn’t build a cancer hospital in Calgary that was badly needed which is being built now, didn’t build a hospital in SW Edmonton that is badly needed or a bridge that is badly needed at Fort Saskatchewan that budgeted for now. These projects where deferred just so Ralf could say he balanced the budget. Will be interesting to see how Jason Kenney proposes to balance the budget. Will he cut out all these projects. He should speak out now.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      The only thing we know about what Jason Kenney wants to do is that he wants to be Premier and cut taxes. So in order to do that he will have to cut out way more than those projects. Knowing that UCP members hate anything public I am sure that his plans have to reach into some of our major programs like health or Education.
      He, of course, will not tell us his plans because he knows that he will not win the election if he touches any of those programs. So the strategy is to convince people that somehow he understands reality better than the rest of us.
      He does not really care as long as he becomes premier. It is all about power and that is why he does not have a platform. He will be a bully towards the other provinces and of course the Federal Government. A lot of Albertans like that attitude as it has been proven before and he is counting on that support. Jason Kenney thrives on being a bully, that is the only thing about him I have no doubt he is.

      • Horacem@hotmail.ca says:

        Government services in Alberta cost 20-30% more than anywhere else in the country. We need major cuts, and we need cuts now, despite what the greedy unions and their fatcat bosses have to say.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Horacem – that is peanuts compared to what the deficit is – we are talking 10 billion and that is not going to be done with 20% reduction in salaries. I agree we should examine why that is and if it is a problem you can thank 43 years of mismanagement by the same party that is now crying wolf. They have been talking about these issues for 44 years and they were never able to fix it. Then they reduced taxes to everyone especially corporations (to get re-elected) and relied more and more on oil revenues and as soon as the boom was over we sunk to a black hole of 10 billion dollars. Of course this should have been expected. Even a primary school child knows that if you rely on one revenue disaster happens when that dries up.

        If you are concerned with the unions fat cat bosses you should also mention the corporation ultra fat cat Ceos and the tax loop holes and tax evasion they seem to be using so effectively. Finally include the sweet deals they managed to get from Ralph Klein and which we are paying for.

        Furthermore we also have the lowest taxes in the country as well as no sales tax.
        Lets be fair and mention everything not just always blaming the unions and their greed.

        I would also suggest finally that Albertans stop asking for high quality social programs and tax cuts at the same time – that is pie in the sky and it is promoted by the Jason Kenney’s types.

      • Dave and Carlos: All we know about Kenney’s plan to balance the budget is that there will be deep cuts to all public services. But it’s hard to get a real sense of what this would look like because Kenney refuses to produce a “shadow budget”. So we’re left with picking up bits and pieces of information in Question Period and other publications that Kenney’s supporters won’t read.
        Sarah Hoffman responded to a question from the UCP about the “job-killing NDP” by pointing out Kenney’s plan to cut taxes will give the 1% a $680 million tax break. She also said if he implemented his plan to cut 20% out of every department in AHS in order to save $4.3 billion that would mean the loss of 28,400 nurses and 5,000 doctors. Interestingly, the UCP has not denied these allegations,
        Even the tiny Alberta Party produced a “shadow budget”. It’s utterly irresponsible for the UCP not to follow suit…certainly not a shining example of “we lead, they follow”.

  17. Terry says:

    No, the people at the top of the corporations pay their taxes and employ others, all of whom deserve our thanks. The unions are a makeshift kind of faux “business” who exploit others, most notably the taxpayers. It’s time to take back our government for the people and not just the greedy union bosses.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Terry no one is blameless in this game we call Life, but suggesting – ‘It’s time to take back our government for the people and not just the greedy union bosses’ is not recognizing facts at all.

      Not a surprise in a time where it seems FACTS are useless, only beliefs count.

      I thank the Unions for paid vacation, for better working conditions, for weekends for workers rights …etc. You should as well.

      • Horacem@hotmail.ca says:

        I “thank” the unions for our high taxes, high costs of government services, and $10 billion annual deficit. You should as well.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        OK Horacem that is fine Just blame the Unions for everything that is your right. I have a different view where we are all responsible and the Unions certainly are not more than anybody else.

  18. Horacem, I’m with Carlos on this one. Some corporations and unions are well run, others are not. The important difference between corporations and unions is who they are legally beholden to.

    A corporation’s directors and their officers (CEOs, CFOs, etc) are legally obligated to act in the best interests of the corporation (see Business Corporations Act s 122(1)(a)). The clearest indicator of whether an action is in the best interests of a corporation is whether it pushes up the share price, not in whether it creates more jobs. For example, Nexen was sold to CNOCC, the Chinese state owned company, due to pressure from Nexen’s shareholders. Share price went up when the sale was announced. CNOCC promised to keep most of the staff but laid them off instead. The only people who came out on top as a result of this decision were the shareholders (and some executives) who made bags of money.

    Unions are supposed to act in the best interests of workers. A workforce can’t be unionized unless a majority of the workers agree to be unionized, conversely if a unionized work force decides it no longer wants to be represented by a union, it can apply for a revocation of bargaining rights (s 51 Labour Relations Code). I would imagine they would do so if the union leadership was corrupt or failed to represent their interests properly.

    The big difference here is who holds the power over the workforce. In the case of corporations the power is held by the shareholders. In the case of unions the power is held by the workers, even if they choose not to use it.

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