Brad Wall cites his ex-labour minister’s unconstitutional legislation as the reason why he’s a ‘great choice’ for Saskatoon
Saskatchewan’s establishment is lining up behind a Saskatoon mayoral candidate who was responsible for bringing in anti-worker legislation that was later struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Rob Norris is a former Saskatchewan Party Labour Minister and a trusted loyalist of former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
In fact, according to Wall, Norris’ track record pushing unconstitutional anti-worker legislation is the specific reason why he is the right man for the job.
During an interview on 650 CKOM last week, Wall singled out Norris’ experience rejigging laws in favour of business interests at the expense of working families as the main reason why he thinks he’d be a “great choice for mayor of Saskatoon”:
“When we formed government, we gave him a fairly significant portfolio including labour and if you remember, John, it was our promise in ‘07 to rebalance the labour legislative environment in Saskatchewan.
We thought there was an imbalance between employers and union leaders and we wanted to restore balance. We were the only province in Canada that didn’t have essential services legislation, we wanted to change that. We also wanted to bring something as common sense as we thought as secret ballot certification. So all these changes came in a very big bill, a challenging bill, and Rob lead our government really and the province through those changes very well and I think he’d be a great choice for the mayor of Saskatoon.”
Wall tweeted another endorsement following Norris’ June 25 campaign launch, although this time he left out the part about rewriting the province’s labour laws.
He instead claimed Norris is “always advocating for the interests and the people of Saskatoon” despite his record pushing unconstitutional anti-worker laws.
Rob was a hard working, responsive Saskatoon MLA and an effective cabinet minister. He was always advocating for the interests and the people of Saskatoon. Seems like a great choice for Mayor. https://t.co/OOgOE7WAkI
— Brad Wall (@BradWall306) June 25, 2020
After Wall appointed him as the Sask Party’s first Minister of Labour in 2007, Norris quickly introduced Bill 5 and Bill 6, the Public Services Essential Services Act and the Trade Union Amendment Act.
Bill 5, which took away the right to strike for over 65,000 workers, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada for interfering with workers’ rights to meaningfully associate.
Bill 6, which is still in effect, made it harder for workers to unionize by introducing a redundant “secret ballot vote” — a mechanism preferred by management since it gives them a second chance to scare workers out of unionizing.
Charles Smith, a University of Saskatchewan political studies professor who has co-authored a book on the history of labour law in Canada, described Norris and Wall’s Bill 5 as “one of the most draconian Essential Services bills seen ever, certainly in the province’s history, but also anywhere else in Canada.”
“This guy, as a potential mayor, would I think do something very similar,” Smith told PressProgress. “He’s not a bridge builder, he’s the opposite of that. This is a guy driven by ideology and he clearly has no interest in reaching out to workers, the poor, homeless people, nothing like that.”
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Lori Johb told PressProgress she has “no doubt” Norris would pick-up where he left off as mayor.
“I’m sure he would try to implement the same sort of regressive laws in Saskatoon that he did with the province,” Johb said.
“He really isn’t interested in the public and citizens in general, he’s interested in helping the corporations and his friends in business.”