With this in mind let's revisit the successful move to kill the Wildrose policy plank that called for "restor[ing] education as an essential service under the Labour Code ensuring no child's right to an education is denied by school strikes or lockouts."
During the 2001 British Columbia election campaign, the BC Liberals promised to restore education as an "essential service" in order to "prevent immediate and serious disruption to the provision of educational programs." On May 16 of that year Liberal candidates captured 77 out of 79 seats in the provincial legislature. The new Gordon Campbell government then acted on this promise and made other changes to the Labour Code to the applause of the province's business community.
During the 2007 Saskatchewan election campaign, Brad Wall's Sask Party promised to bring in "essential services" legislation. On November 7 of that year, Wall and his party won a clear majority of the seats and a majority of the popular vote. Moreover, a poll in early 2008 found that "two-thirds of Saskatchewan people support the government's proposed essential services legislation." While this legislation did not deal with teachers per se or ban strikes outright, it applied to "government, Crown Corporations, universities and SIAST, health employers and municipalities." The president of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) deplored what he considered to be “definitely the worst essential services legislation in Canada."
At the same time, the Wall government amended the Trade Union Act to require a "Mandatory secret ballot certification or decertification vote." The Wildrose policy platform similarly says that
a Wildrose government will extend to workers the democratic right to a secret ballot vote on labour organization certification under the Labour Code and ensure that the same rule apply for de-certification as for certificationHowever, at last month's Wildrose AGM, of the 450 votes counted at that meeting, just 56% of (presumably committed, since most of them traveled to Red Deer) card carrying Wildrosers supported keeping this plank. This while 67% of polled Saskatchewan citizens of all political affiliation supported the Sask Party's labour policy. Premier Brad Wall continues to bask in popular support.
What the Wildrose caucus, which led the charge on these union coddling moves, has managed to do is render labour policy that is government policy in both of Alberta's neighbours fringe policy in Alberta. Premier Ed calls quashing teachers' right to strike "draconian" and Wildrose agrees, never mind that Wildrose was polling ahead of the premier's party at the time he leveled the charge.
Given this, how is one to argue with Ted Morton, whose party has presided over the erosion of Alberta's competitiveness relative to its neighbours, when he claims that Wildrose is in basic agreement with his party as far as policy goes ("We all believe in the same thing and want the same results")?