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

Former Stettler resident helps to develop a potential prototype ventilator

Peter Brockley, who now lives in the West Kootenays, was a teacher at William E. Hay Secondary Campus

Non-profits that are helping people impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief funding

Red Deer and District FCSS can draw from a provincial pot of $30 million

No Alberta renter will be evicted for non-payment on April 1, promises the premier

No evictions during the entire Alberta public health emergency

COLUMN: Overcoming COVID-19 – Damien C. Kurek, M.P. (Battle River-Crowfoot)

‘A crisis is not a time for partisanship; however, a crisis does not mean there should not be accountability’

A Message From the Publisher – ‘We will do our best, but without local advertising revenue, The Stettler Independent cannot survive’

‘We will do our best, but without local advertising revenue, The Stettler Independent cannot survive’

Regions brace to fight rising flood waters and cases of COVID-19

Pontiac is one of dozens of flood-prone regions bracing for the possibility of rising waters

Feds working to get 248 Canadians stranded on COVID-19-infected cruise ship home

The federal government is working with the Panamanian government and Holland America

Trudeau says air, train travel to be denied for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms

Boarding of domestic flights and trains will be denied to those showing symptoms related to COVID-19

A message from Central Alberta Co-op

Please remember to practice social distancing at all our locations.

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

4 passengers dead aboard cruise ship anchored off Panama

4 passengers dead aboard cruise ship anchored off Panama

Drumheller Institution in Alberta locked down, two inmates tested for COVID-19

Drumheller Institution in Alberta locked down, two inmates tested for COVID-19

Alberta’s premier rejects call to fire health minister over abuse of citizens

Alberta’s premier rejects call to fire health minister over abuse of citizens

Most Read