Union group pushes against Wildrose

With polls predicting a Wildrose government, several groups went public this week pleading with Albertans for anything but.

The Alberta Federation of Labour called every Albertan with a landline phone over three days earlier this week, conducting a poll or leaving a message on answering machines suggesting that both the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties are wrong on health care.

"Many of you are justifiably angry with the Conservatives, They have brought us bed shortages, doctor intimidation, creeping privatization and a broken long-term care system, but if you care about medicare Wildrose is not the answer," said AFL president Gil McGowan in the message.

The message states the Wildrose intends to create a two-tiered system.

"They are committed to using public funds as seed money to facilitate the growth of corporate for-profit care."

The AFL has been a sharp critic of the ruling Conservatives, but in the recorded message McGowan argued the Wildrose are no better.

"On election day don't forget how badly the Conservatives have handled health care, but please don't support a party that would destroy medicare as we know it."

McGowan said the recorded message was left only when their calls didn't connect with a person. When a person answered the phone they were given a poll on issues around health care and the Wildrose platform.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith countered the attack and said the party doesn't believe Albertans are concerned about how they receive health care, only how they pay for it.

"We believe that as long as a person doesn't have to pull out their credit card or their chequebook to pay for care that it doesn't matter to them if they go to a hospital or a private clinic to get their treatment."

She said their plan is not privatization and will actually improve the public system.

"Anyone who will go on our website, look at our platform and our wait time guarantee, knows that we are committed to the principles of the Canada Health Act."

McGowan said the recorded message is not a reluctant endorsement of the Conservatives over the Wildrose, but is a rebuke of both right wing parties. He said he wants medicare protected and both parties have worrying records.

"I have no confidence that the Conservatives will do that, based on their track record and based on the roster of people in the party."

He said he is pleased to see Albertans are prepared to change the government, but he doesn't think the Wildrose are offering real change.

"They have finally got up the courage to vote out the Conservative party, but they are putting their hopes on a party that will make a bad situation even worse."

The AFL's move comes as other groups are also calling for an "anybody but Wildrose" movement. A video entitled "I never thought I would vote PC" was posted online and calls for left-wing voters to hold their nose and vote Tory to prevent the Wildrose from forming government.

Smith said voters should look for themselves at her party's platform and decide if it represents them.

"I hope that they will look at our policies and will look at our platform and vote for the party that best represents their views on where Alberta has to go."

She said regardless of the outcome, she expects Monday's vote to create a better legislature that isn't dominated by one party.

Alberta has legislation that requires third party groups to register if they conduct political advertising, but McGowan argued the AFL campaign is in fact a poll and not an advertisement.

"It is a poll and we left a message for those who didn't get the live call."

St. Albert Gazette, Sat Apr 21 2012
Byline: Ryan Tumilty

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