Sometimes it is easy to feel sorry for Fast Eddie. I mean, he has plenty of self-inflicted wounds already, what with the alienation of the cities, campaign funding issues, shortage of hospitals, a boom that the government can't keep up with, yada, yada, yada.
But the rot is much deeper than incompetent Progressive Conservative legislators, past and present.
Take for instance the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. A couple of days ago the geniuses who sit on the Commission made the enlightened decision to change its policy so that bars and nightclubs could hire children between the ages of 12 and 17 to work in their kitchens, washrooms, loading facilities and any other place in the establishment that is not serving alcohol. The decision was made at the request of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association as a way of dealing with a pressing labour shortage.
So not only does the Progressive Conservative Government love any business group that comes a-calling asking for changes to make it easy to screw over the little guy in our society in order to increase their profits (e.g. capping the insurance awards for soft tissue damages, privatizing liquor outlets, selling hospitals to their pals for a song). So to does its Commissions such as the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
Of course this should come as no surprise. After all, the Commissions and Boards of the Provincial Government are merely extensions of the Premier and his Cabinet. The members selected are almost without exception of pure Progressive Conservative pedigree who owe their position to the laying on of hands of Progressive Conservative politicians.
In the case of the Gaming and Liquor Commission, the Board is made up of people who have been appointed between 2001 and 2005, by of course the Klein Government. None of them appear to have any experience with Liquor, except maybe drinking their share at Tory Conventions. A couple have sat on Lottery Boards. The Chairman himself has a background primarily in Lands and Forests and the Environment. One of the members - a former P.C. candidate - has been on the gravy train for a while having worked on Appeal panels of AISHE and the Health Professionals Act.
Fast Eddie found out about the changes after the Restaurant Association Emailed its member businesses telling them of the good news. According to Tom Olsen, Eddie's loyal and faithful man-servant communications officer going back to his days as a columnist with the Calgary Herald, neither Eddie, Employment Minister Iris Evans, nor Solicitor General Fred Lindsay (under whom the Commission operates) knew anything about it. It would have been interesting to observe any growth in the size of their noses as Olsen was making that statement.
Existing regulations prior to the Commission's end run for the Restaurant Association's new demands, allowed kids to work in restaurants only and not in Bars and nightclubs.
The whole issue was brought to the Premier's attention by the Alberta Federation of Labour, which is naturally on the warpath about the issue, since the policy changes obviously were designed to get cheap labour for the businesses, and in the process take employment away from adult Albertans who would be asking for more money than the kids.
As things stand now, the Government has suspended the changes for further discussion. Evans, the Employment Minister, seems to be adamant that they will not be implemented on her watch.
Quite apart from the issue of having kids do adult jobs for less money to screw higher priced adults, there is a Dickensian quality to the whole thing. Why would the Commission or the Government even think about putting kids into that kind of work environment? Unless it was for more money for their business pals, of course. Its always the money. And its always their pals.