MLA’s actions lead to contempt of Legislature ruling
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