Who Defines What Constitutes the Public Interest?
— Peggy Morton —
The Court of Appeal of Alberta ruling effectively says the government has the right to declare what is in the public interest or not. It may be so. However, once this is done to deprive society of an aim which upholds individual and collective rights and instead blatant nation-wrecking is taken up, the cause of justice must prevail. The members of society must impose their own limitations on what governments can or cannot do. This is the fact of the matter seen in how governments use this argument of the public interest to attack the rights of workers, and engage in nation-wrecking. The public and national interest is defined by those in power and in control of government who serve narrow global private interests. It is not in accord with the concrete conditions, needs and rights of the working people.
The Kenney Alberta government declares it has a mandate from the election to renege on certain provisions of the existing collective agreements with public sector workers. This expresses the control the government has to define the public interest and impose its definition on working people. The true intent is to attack the wages, benefits and working conditions of the working class and trample on its rights.
This ruling and arguments of public interest and national interest put the issue of political control squarely on the agenda of Alberta’s and Canada’s workers. The issue boils down to who controls and who decides. On the anti-worker Bill 9 and in the current federal election, workers are responding to the appeal of the MLPC to speak out forcefully and defend their common interests on these important issues. This accords with the appeal of the MLPC: Empower Yourself Now!
Peggy Morton is the MLPC candidate in Edmonton Centre.