AFL Goes to Court to Defend Right to Documents

EDMONTON-There are a number of developments today in the scandal involving the Labour Relations Board's involvement in Bill 27. First, this afternoon, the Privacy Commissioner took the Alberta Federation of Labour to court to try to force the return of documents given to the AFL last week.

Earlier this morning, senior union leaders from across Alberta met to strategize what the labour movement should do about the breach of trust that has occurred. Third, the AFL received a letter from LRB Chair Mark Asbell attempting to explain their involvement, and the AFL responded by demanding the release of the rest of the documents related to Bill 27.

The Privacy Commissioner served notice late yesterday that they will be applying for an injunction to force the return of documents released to the AFL last week. "The Commissioner is asking us to return the documents we received, and to provide a list of to whom we have sent them," says AFL President Gil McGowan.

"Our reply continues to be 'no', and we will defend our right in court to these documents. Two years ago we applied to receive these and hundreds of other documents related to Bill 27, but have been stonewalled," notes McGowan. "The public's interest to know about inappropriate actions at the LRB override any possible privacy issues the LRB may raise."

"This is not about privacy. It is about the LRB hiding the truth from Albertans."

This morning, about 45 senior union leaders met to discuss what the labour movement should do about the revelations. They decided on a series of actions to put pressure on the Board, including:

  • Signing an Open Letter to Ralph Klein demanding the resignations of Mark Asbell, Les Wallace and Nancy Schlesinger, and for a full public inquiry into the scandal
  • Selecting a case to pursue a "reasonable apprehension of bias" claim in the courts, to achieve a ruling whether the Board is now compromised
  • Other actions to be announced next week

Also, late yesterday, the AFL received a letter from LRB Chair Mark Asbell, attempting to explain that their role was merely "technical". The AFL replied with their own letter today.

"We told Mr. Asbell that his explanation was inadequate, as the memos clearly indicate more than a technical involvement. They drafted the regulations," says McGowan. "We believe even so-called 'technical' involvement is a breach of the LRB's role."

"We have written Mr. Asbell demanding that he release the hundreds of documents in question in our FOIP request. It is the ONLY way for the full truth to be known."

"If the LRB is so certain of the propriety of their involvement, then why are they fighting so hard to keep the documents secret?" asks McGowan. "Release them and let Albertans see what the LRB's role was."

"This scandal has rocked the labour relations system in Alberta. Continuing to hide and whitewash will only make it worse. The time for full disclosure is upon us."

Note: All the relevant documents, including letters, are available here.

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For more information contact:

Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell)  or  780.483-3021 (wk)

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