Monday, November 20, 2006
No Longer a Happy Family: Backs (bottom right, wearing hat) with former Liberal colleagues endorsing federal Lib Gerard Kennedy
EDMONTON - Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft will hold a news conference today to announce his new caucus of 15 members - one short of yesterday's total.
Edmonton Manning MLA Dan Backs has been removed from caucus effective immediately.
Speculation is rampant that Backs riled party brass with a series of news releases that didn't jibe with Liberal policy at best, and was in direct contradiction at worst.
A release earlier this month from Backs on housing and homelessness called for the Government to immediately raise the minimum wage rather than institute land-banking, fund affordable housing or institute rent guidelines, as the Alberta NDP have been demanding for months.
The release is very different from the Liberal caucus version of the housing strategy, finally released last week, as it actually argues against affordable housing spending.
Backs' full release is below.
Any and all reference to this particular Dan Backs release has been removed from the Alberta Liberal Caucus website, along with many others. Interestingly enough however, many materials remain.
Backs was first elected in Edmonton Manning in 2004.
Original Dan Backs News Release - November 9, 2006
Alberta Liberal HRE Critic Dan Backs Calls for Action on Alberta Minimum Wage
Edmonton - Alberta Liberal Human Resources and Employment Critic Dan Backs released the following statement today urging the provincial government to increase the minimum wage to assist the working poor in Alberta::
"The Alberta Tories are fiddling while Albertans freeze. We need a living wage for Albertans so that they can actually pay rent and damage deposits, to have a home and pull themselves up. In the meantime we should at least have a minimum wage increase.
The last raise was 14 months ago, there has been only one raise in this new millennium and we are in the midst of a boom where rents are rising through the roof. I participated in the homeless count in Edmonton last month. The new phenomenon of the working homeless has at least part of its cause in a too low minimum wage.
Numerous U.S. States just passed initiatives to raise their minimum wage a couple of days ago. The Canadian federal government just came out with a report calling to raise the federal minimum wage. HR Minister Mike Cardinal said in the August sitting of the Legislature that his department would move on the minimum wage. There are far too many reasons for action - why is the province waiting?
I would hope that the department is not going to wait through the winter just because the Tories are picking a new leader. It's cold outside. If Alberta has to suffer that sort of arrogance from the Conservatives, they should all be thrown out in the next election.
Why are we still among the lowest in Canada when we are obviously the most prosperous part of this country?
We just saw Ralph Klein throw $16 million of taxpayers money into subsidized housing to help with homelessness and it is overdue. But decent wages are the best solution.
It also makes sense, if we are not going to scare away the unskilled from coming here from other parts of Canada, to give them some comfort that they might be able to pay their bills with a decent minimum wage when they arrive.
Alberta should raise the minimum wage quickly, and there should be a mandatory annual review and increase. It's there for MLA's and Ministers. It's only fair and Alberta Liberals have been calling for this for years.
Alberta is a high cost jurisdiction that shouldn't be compared to cheap rent areas in other parts of Canada."
For more information contact:
Dan Backs, HRE Critic