MLA’s ac­tions lead to con­tempt of Leg­is­la­ture rul­ing

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Olds, Dids­bury, Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper has taken the Al­berta Govern­ment to task over its ad­ver­tis­ing of the car­bon tax.

Wil­drose House Leader Cooper was suc­cess­ful in elic­it­ing an apol­ogy from the Govern­ment af­ter his ac­tion led to the govern­ment be­ing found in con­tempt of the leg­is­la­ture.

He explains that way back in June, he raised a Point of Priv­i­lege in the Leg­is­la­ture. At is­sue was the govern­ment’s spend­ing on car­bon tax ads be­fore MLAs voted on the bill. A day af­ter he raised the point, the spring sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture came to an end.

“Typ­i­cally speak­ing on Point of Priv­i­lege, the Speaker will take some time to re­view the facts, so rarely does the speaker im­me­di­ately re­view it,” he explains.

He said over the break, there had been some dis­cus­sion on the is­sue and some ad­di­tional sub­mis­sions made to the Leg­is­la­ture.

“I asked that all th­ese sub­mis­sions be made in front of the Assem­bly, so on the first day back, they were tabled in the Assem­bly and he made his rul­ing,” said Cooper.

Govern­ment Deputy House Leader Deron Bilous quickly apol­o­gized and Speaker Robert Wan­ner ac­cepted.

Cooper would have liked the speaker to take more ac­tion.

“Un­der the usual prac­tices of the Leg­is­la­ture, the mat­ter should have been re­ferred to the all-party Priv­i­leges and Elec­tions, Stand­ing Or­ders and Print­ing com­mit­tee for fur­ther dis­cus­sion and po­ten­tial sanc­tion,” he said.

Bill 20, the Cli­mate Lead­er­ship Im­ple­men­ta­tion Act passed on June 7, and was given Royal Assent on June 13.

“Once the piece of leg­is­la­tion was passed, they were able to start their cam­paign. The trou­ble is they mis­ap­pro­pri­ated the funds prior to that elec­tion pass­ing,” said Cooper. “They broke the rules by es­sen­tially pre­sup­pos­ing a de­ci­sion by the assem­bly.

He goes on to say that al­most ex­actly one year ago the Op­po­si­tion raised a sim­i­lar point of priv­i­lege re­lat­ing to a news re­lease sent out on the pro­posed bud­get, and were warned by the Speaker.

“Al­most a year to the day, he found them in con­tempt break­ing the same rule they had been warned about re-

spect­ing,” he said.

“One of my big­gest dis­ap­point­ment or frus­tra­tion is that this is the ex­act same thing that when the NDP was in op­po­si­tion, they would get very frustrated at the govern­ment from them not fol­low­ing the rules of the assem­bly, and in my opin­ion, think­ing they are more im­por­tant to the assem­bly, which trans­lated into think­ing you are more im­por­tant than Al­ber­tans.”

In the clouds of spin and pro­pa­gan­das fly­ing in the leg­is­la­ture, a pro­ce­dural mis­step al­most seems unglam­orous, but for Cooper, it is about re­spect.

“At the end of the day, the NDP promised that they would be more open, more trans­par­ent and more re­spect­ful of Al­ber­tans, and with this type of be­hav­iour, they are begin­ning a track record of not do­ing that,” said Cooper. “Even peo­ple that didn’t sup­port the NDP but were frustrated with the pre­vi­ous govern­ment were hop­ing the NDP would do things dif­fer­ently, and less than two years into their man­date they have been found in con­tempt.”

“This isn’t about politi­cians, it is about Al­ber­tans and the need for the rules to be fol­lowed and the govern­ment to be re­spect­ful of them,” he said.

Nathan Cooper… Olds, Dids­bury Three Hills MLA

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