Back to the Future: Why Alberta needs more pioneer-style collective action and less American-style conservative ideology. Job loss; declining quality and accessibility of public services; environmental impact of development; and cut throat competition from abroad are the kinds of challenges Alberta faces as it moves into the second decade of the 21st century. Will we be able to maintain our prosperity and quality of life in the face of these challenges? Will we adapt, innovate and develop better ways to support each other and our communities? Or will we see more and more of our neighbours tossed to the curb as the newly “globalized” economy picks winners and losers? Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan will argue Alberta has the tools it needs to deal successfully with the challenges facing the province; all that’s missing is political vision and political will. McGowan believes that it’s time to reject American-inspired free-market conservatism that has dominated Alberta’s political and policy landscape since the beginning of the so-called Klein Revolution. Instead, Albertans should embrace an updated version of progressive and community based populism that helped our province’s earliest settlers build thriving communities in an often inhospitable landscape.
Speaker: Gil McGowan Gil McGowan is serving his third term as the elected president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta’s largest union advocacy organization representing more than 140,000 workers from 27 unions in both the public and private sectors. He also serves as a board member for Friends of Medicare and the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute.

Under McGowan’s leadership, the AFL has been successful in moving a number of work-related issues to the centre of public debate in Alberta, including: workplace health and safety; the use (and abuse) of temporary foreign workers; and the increasing loss of oil sands jobs as the result of raw bitumen exports. As well, McGowan played an important role in campaigns to increase the provincial minimum wage and to stop the introduction of former Premier Ralph Klein’s controversial Third Way plan for health care.

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