On Monday, March 17, 2008 the Sask. Party government changed their answers - again.
Pressed by the opposition and the media, Minister of Advanced Education Employment and Labour, Rob Norris admitted that he has been consulting with well known "management side" lawyer Kevin Wilson from the law firm of MacPherson, Leslie & Tyerman - on the "new" Essential Services Legislation (Bill 5), and on the proposed changes to the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act (Bill 6). There is absolutely no question that Wilson is a management side lawyer. In fact, he recently presented at the 13th Annual Labour Law Review in Regina on Nov 1 & 2, 2007. He is identified in the promotional material and agenda as "employer counsel".
Norris's comments today are quite a change from what he said just 3 day's ago (on Friday) at the CUPE Sask. Division Convention, when he denied any external consultation on the legislation.
The Minister's comments on Monday raise just as many questions as they answer. See the CBC's coverage here: NDP continues to grill government over labour legislation, minister.
I have linked 4 documents here that show there has been a deliberate campaign by the government to consult only with employer organizations, and to exclude the voice of workers, and unions. There are many, many more documents and examples that illustrate this further.
1. E-mail including "key messages" - dated December 6, 2007 - which shows that the government was preparing to answer questions as to "why they were not sharing the proposed legislation with Hubich?" - One can only conclude that because they didn't have a similar question and answer prepared for "why they weren't sharing the legislation with business" that they were sharing it with business.
2. E-mail - dated December 11, 2007 - which indicates Wilson was attending a briefing and consultation with the Minister on Dec. 12.
3. E-mail - dated December 13, 2007 - which indicates additional changes and outstanding items that where identified in the briefing and consultation meeting referred to in #2 above.
4. Letter from the Minister of Justice to me - dated March 13, 2008 (received March 17) wherein Justice Minister Morgan refuses to refer the two Bills (5 and 6) to the Courts for determination as to their constitutionality because: "It is not our practice to seek assistance .... in legislative drafting". This argument is diametrically opposed to what the Minister of Labour was saying Monday in the rotunda of the legislature - that he, his department, and the justice department needed the assistance of Wilson to draft the legislation.
Justice Minister Morgan is responding to the matter as reported earlier on this blog. See entries here: If you don't like working people - just say so! and here: What seems to be the problem.
I have a question: the Minister of Labour said at the CUPE Convention that the "Legislation was drafted by Justice" - who in Justice drafted Bills 5 and 6?
Okay, it's time for this Sask. Party government to come clean and to start telling the truth.
Larry Hubich wrote: "4. Letter from the Minister of Justice to me - dated March 13, 2008 (received March 17) wherein Justice Minister Morgan refuses to refer the two Bills (5 and 6) to the Courts for determination as to their constitutionality because: "It is not our practice to seek assistance .... in legislative drafting". This argument is diametrically opposed to what the Minister of Labour was saying Monday in the rotunda of the legislature - that he, his department, and the justice department needed the assistance of Wilson to draft the legislation."
Come on, Larry, even you can read the letter posted at the link you have provided, which clearly states "It is not our practice to seek assistance from the court in legislative drafting". It would appear you've carefully excised the key phrase "from the court" in order to imply Minister Morgan has contradicted himself or other members of the government. You certainly won't win points with this government, nor should you expect an 'open door', by playing such games.
FWIW, I would expect the government to consult legal advice when drafting legislation - which Mr. Kevin Wilson is obviously qualified to do.
Thank you for participating in this blog.
I didn't ask the Minister of Justice to "seek assistance from the courts in legislative drafting" - those are his words, not mine.
I asked the Premier in my letter of February 6, 2008 to refer the Bills to the Court of Appeal for a determination as to their constitutionality.
If they choose to answer my request by implying I am asking them to seek assistance from the courts in legislative drafting - then they shouldn't be surprised at my reply.
Remember about a year ago, they thought that TILMA was the best thing since sliced bread. We believed (and still do) that the TILMA was a flawed and dangerous agreement, and made a compelling argument in that regard. (Including a very solid legal analysis).
In fact, our arguments where so compelling that even they finally agreed that TILMA was not something that would benefit the province of Saskatchewan and stated that they would not sign on if they formed government.
We think Bills 5 and 6 are flawed and that the courts will strike them down. We asked the government to seek an independent judical opinion in that regard. Such an option is provided for in the Constitutional Questions Act, and other jurisdications have availed themselves of that process.
Apparently, the Sask. Party government are not interested in such an approach and are refusing.
Thanks again for your comments.
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