Abraham Lincoln was credited with saying “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
As time passes and the landscape changes in the Alberta Legislature, my comprehension of Lincoln’s statement has become as clear as ever.
When United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney prepared to set a new standard for the official Opposition in the legislature, he did so with the intent of representing Albertans with dignity and respect.
“I and our caucus will raise the bar of civility and decorum in the legislature, and in the course of the next 16 months before the next election.” – Jason Kenney.
As members of the Opposition it is our civic and moral obligation to every taxpayer in Alberta to question the government on their policies and actions to ensure that Albertans get the most from their representation. In that pursuit there are rules of engagement, The standing orders of the legislative assembly of Alberta. The standing orders are intended to maintain decorum and civility in the legislature as well as direct the proceedings in an orderly fashion.
A good friend once told me that bullies present themselves in various ways, some are subtle, and others are not so subtle. We’ve all experienced some form of bullying throughout our lives both as children and as adults. there is no place for this behavior in your legislature.
The subject of bullying has justifiably been brought to the forefront in recent years in the political arena. As we’ve seen, there is a difference between respectfully presenting authority and condescendingly presenting authority in the course of debate.
Last week in the legislature during question period, the condescending presentation brought from the government towards the MLA from Chestermere Rocky View, Leela Aheer and Calgary Foothills MLA, Prasad Panda, reached a new and disappointing low. Government members heckled across the aisle, “are you dumb, are you stupid, did you come to work prepared?” The need for better decorum is certainly evident.
Our house standing orders, “A member will be called to order by the speaker if, in the speaker’s opinion, that member, (j) uses abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder;” explicitly outlines the kind of behavior to be avoided in the legislature, but the immaturity shown by some members of the government recently has brought the level of debate to a new low.
The point is, this NDP government has the responsibility and honour to represent all Albertans, and as do all members of the legislature. We owe it to the Albertans that we represent to raise the level of discussion and debate to a respectfully productive level. The UCP caucus is committed to delivering on that responsibility and to showing Albertans that we have the dignified character to represent you in a manner befitting the honour.