Alberta: Quebec ironworker fired for failing English test

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 10 14:56:39 UTC 2007

 March 9, 2007

Need better oilsands policy, Ed!

Premier Ed Stelmach was waxing poetic this week in the throne speech about
the "good use" Albertans have made with the resources that "nature has
bestowed on our province," and the "wise choices" we have made. Wise
choices by Albertans, maybe. But the same can't be said of the Alberta
Tories these days as their oilsands strategy becomes more confused and
controversial. The latest bizarre incident was the firing of Quebec
ironworker Carol Rioux by Suncor from its Fort McMurray site because he
failed the English language test.

This came days after Stelmach made a speech insisting that the Alberta
energy boom was a benefit for all Canadians, so federal Liberal Leader
Stephane Dion had better keep his hands off the oilsands. Clearly the
Alberta Advantage passed Rioux by. He lost his high-paying job for
speaking one of Canada's official languages and not the other. At the same
time that Rioux got the boot, Alberta International Affairs Minister Guy
Boutilier was in Mexico City signing a "declaration of co-operation" and
reportedly "exploring the potential of a large pool of labour" to work in
the oilsands.

That would be a pool of labour, we suspect, which would have a rather
tough time passing Suncor's English language test. The plot only thickens
when Alberta construction unions are reporting that thousands of
unemployed tradesmen are either on their hiring lists or working at other
jobs because of the Alberta Tories screwy oilsands policy. It's a policy
that allows energy companies to only pay a penny-on-the-dollar royalty
until these massive plants are paid out. This is an intolerable situation.

Premier Stelmach must immediately bring in a policy with teeth to it that
emphatically states when it comes to oilsands jobs, it's Albertans first
and Canadians second. And only under extreme circumstances should the
positions be filled with temporary foreign workers. And the premier should
initiate job site inspections to make doubly sure that the oilsands
developers and their contractors are living up to the deal. Because the
oil belongs to Albertans.

And we and other Canadians like Carol Rioux should be the first to benefit
from it.


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