Notley kicked out of legislature for comment on election watchdog firing bill

When Speaker Nathan Cooper directed Notley to apologize, she refused

Alberta NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley has been kicked out of the legislature chamber after she refused to apologize for comments about the United Conservative government’s plan to fire the province’s election watchdog.

Notley told the house Tuesday that Government House Leader Jason Nixon was making misleading statements on proposed legislation that would end the contract of Lorne Gibson during Gibson’s investigation of UCP fundraising misdeeds.

Legislature members have wide latitude to debate in the house, but rules don’t allow for allegations that one member is deliberately misleading or lying.

When Speaker Nathan Cooper directed Notley to apologize, she refused, saying bigger issues are at stake with Bill 22.

“We see a corrupt act to interfere with an investigation in this house and we must be able to call it what it is,” Notley told Cooper.

“I’ve never seen a threat to this house like Bill 22, not in the province’s history.”

Cooper ejected Notley for the day. She picked up her books and papers and, escorted by the sergeant-at-arms, walked out as colleagues pounded their desks in support.

The desk-pounding itself was another backhanded thumbing of the nose toward Kenney’s government, which has banned this time-honoured noisemaking tradition, calling it undignified.

Notley was to learn later what Cooper will demand she do before being allowed to retake her seat in the house, but it usually involves making an apology.

“We will see. I will consider my options,” Notley said when asked later if she will apologize.

“At this point, I’m more interested in considering all the different ways in which we can do everything we can to stop this bill from passing.”

Gibson’s job as election commissioner was created as an independent office of the legislature by Notley’s NDP when they were in government in 2018. It was charged with focusing on fundraising and advertising violations while Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler remained in overall charge of elections.

Gibson has since levelled more than $200,000 in fines surrounding rule-breaking linked to the 2017 United Conservative leadership race, which Jason Kenney won before he became premier this year.

That future of that investigation was thrown into doubt Monday when Kenney’s government introduced Bill 22, which calls for ending Gibson’s contract and puts the next election commissioner back under the auspices of the chief electoral officer.

Nixon told the house Monday that this is a prudent consolidation measure.

“No one is firing anybody,” said Nixon.

“All investigations remain under the purview of an independent officer of this legislature — the chief electoral officer.”

Gibson, in a public letter issued Tuesday, said he learned of his pending dismissal from media reports after Bill 22 was introduced.

“My disappointment is not related to my personal role as commissioner, now or in the future,” Gibson said in the letter.

“I am concerned about the potential negative impacts on the independence of election administration and the real and perceived integrity of the election process.

“Citizens of Alberta must have confidence and trust in the integrity of all aspects of the provincial electoral process, not just the casting and counting of ballots on election day.”

Notley said her caucus has asked Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell to intervene on the grounds that Bill 22 is an abuse of privilege by Kenney’s government.

Mitchell’s signature is needed to proclaim the bill and make it law.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fracking the official cause of Sylvan Lake earthquake last spring

Alberta Energy Regulators declared their findings in a report released last month

ATM thefts down in Central Alberta in 2019

RCMP data also shows some aspects of property crime in the rural and municipal areas drop as well

Sylvan Lake veterinarian’s winter tips for four-legged friends

Dr. Sandy Jameson shares tips to help cats and dogs to stay safe and healthy during the winter

Sylvan Lake Wranglers soar over High River Flyers

The Sylvan Lake Wranglers came out of the Sunday night game with a 5-3 victory on home ice

Bantam West Central Tigers claw to victory over Medicine Hat

The West Central Tigers defeated the Medicine Hat Hounds 4-2 at the NexSource Centre on Jan. 18.

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Energy companies owe more than double the tax to Alberta municipalities

Survey says communities are owed $173 million — up 114% since last spring

No gondola from Banff to Mount Norquay, feds say

Parks Canada dismisses proposal for gondola, Grizzly Pavilion and boardwalks

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Nine times lucky? Alberta’s Northern Cree takes another shot at Grammy gold

The group originates from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in northern Alberta

Tax revolt? Unpaid taxes from energy companies to Alberta towns more than double

The association says they are owed a total of $173 million

New post-secondary funding model in Alberta tied to performance measures

By 2022, up to 40 per cent of post-secondary funding could be linked to performance

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read