Alvin Mackling (born December 31, 1927 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for most of the period between 1969 and 1988, and was a cabinet minister in the New Democratic Party governments of Edward Schreyer and Howard Pawley.
Mackling was educated at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba Law School, and worked as a lawyer before entering public life.
Mackling was involved with the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (predecessor to the New Democratic Party) in the 1950s, and ran for the party on a number of occasions. In the 1953 provincial election, he ran for the Manitoba CCF in the west-end Winnipeg riding of Assiniboia, and came within 300 votes of defeating Liberal-Progressive candidate Reginald Wrightman. He also ran for the party in by_elections in 1956 and 1957, without success. He ran in the riding of St. James in the provincial elections of 1958 and 1959, respectively finishing third and second. He also ran for the federal CCF 1957 federal election, finishing a distant third in Winnipeg South Centre.
In the late 1950s, Mackling and Howard Pawley were regarded as rebels against the CCF establishment in Manitoba. Both opposed the party's decision to dissolve itself into the New Democratic Party, and supported Hazen Argue's decision to sit as federal House Leader in 1960. Notwithstanding his opposition to the change, Mackling ran for the Manitoba NDP in Assiniboia in the 1962 election, this time finishing a weak third.
He considered running to replace Russell Paulley as leader of the provincial NDP in 1968. Although nothing came of these speculations, Sidney Green later claimed that he challenged Paulley's leadership the following year in part because he did not want to see Mackling take the position.
Mackling was finally elected to the Manitoba assembly in the 1969 election, in which the party formed a minority government under the leadership of Edward Schreyer; again running in St. James, he defeated incumbent Progressive Conservative Douglas Stanes by almost 1,000 votes. He was named as the province's Attorney General on July 15, 1969, and held the position for the Schreyer government's first term in office. He also served as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs from December 18, 1969 to August 20, 1970.
Mackling's tenure as Attorney-General was controversial. He was regarded as unnecessarily dogmatic by others in the NDP caucus, and was criticized by civil libertarians for shutting down a theatre which was screening the film Last Tango In Paris without consulting other government ministers. He was also criticized by some in the St. James riding for supporting amalgamation with the city of Winnipeg, which brought about an increase in local taxation. In the 1973 election, he lost his seat to Tory George Minaker by 374 votes.
He returned to provincial politics after his friend Howard Pawley won the provincial NDP leadership in 1979. In the 1981 provincial election, he defeated Minaker by almost 800 votes to reclaim the riding of St. James. On February 12, 1982, he was named Minister of Natural Resources, a position he retained until 1985. He also held responsibility for the Manitoba Housing Act and the Renewal Corporation Act from February 12 to August 30, 1982.
On January 30, 1985, Mackling was named Minister of Labour with responsibility for the Manitoba Telephone System Act, the Civil Service Act, the Civil Service Superannuation Act, the Civil Service Special Supplementary Severance Benefit Act and the Public Servants Insurance Act. He was narrowly re-elected in the 1986 election against a challenge from Tory Eldon Ross.
At one stage in Mackling's tenure as Labour Minister, there was a significant dispute in Manitoba between the Eaton's company and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Mackling publicly cut up his Eaton's credit card in an attempt to show support for the union.
On April 17, 1986, he was retained in the Labour portfolio, but relieved of all other ministerial responsibilities except for the Telephone System Act and named Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs for a second time. On February 4, 1987, he was relieved of the TSA responsibility.
On September 21, 1987, he was removed as Minister of Labour and named Minister of Business Development and Tourism, also retaining the Consumer and Corporate Affairs portfolio.
The NDP were unexpectedly defeated in the legislature in early 1988, at a time when the party was performing poorly in public opinion polls. Mackling decided not to contest the 1988 election, and has not returned to political life since this time.
Mackling now serves on the Executive of the Manitoba Forestry Association, and is President of the Winnipeg Game and Fish Association.