Many Albertans associate the provincial Legislature with the arguing they see on TV during Question Period.
The kind of debate that occurs during legislative sessions can get very heated, as most members are truly passionate about the values that matter to them and their constituents.
At the end of the day, however, there has typically been a fundamental respect between MLAs from all parties that allows them to work together, once the curtains of Question Period are drawn.
Sadly, that level of decorum is a thing of the past under the NDP who has developed an increasingly bad habit of cutting opposition members out of local announcements.
Take, for instance, a number of recent announcements that occurred in my riding of Cypress-Medicine Hat.
In one case, they announced a $350,000 business incubator, and the Premier even attended (two years after being elected, this was her first trip to Medicine Hat). I wasn’t notified or invited to this important announcement, but went anyway when I learned of it. I was then cut out of four other important announcements.
I pride myself on being a local representative above all else, and do my best to go to every event I possibly can and engage with my neighbours. So it’s apparent to most in my riding when the NDP is cutting me out for no reason other than crass politics.
This issue isn’t unique to Medicine Hat. All across the province, the NDP is swooping into local communities and making important announcements without involving local MLAs.
My colleague Angela Pitt recently incurred a similar situation when the NDP announced it would allow for a left-hand turning lane at a local restaurant whereas before locals were forced to take a dangerous detour. Angela has been a tireless advocate for this left-hand turning lane since even before she was elected, but she was entirely cut out of this positive announcement for her community.
This isn’t good politics. Local residents in my riding and others are usually confused at first by the lack of presence from their local MLA. That confusion often turns to anger when they realize the government is intentionally keeping local representatives in the dark, thereby politicizing public announcements that should be entirely nonpartisan.
The NDP has adopted many of the same bad practices it used to criticize, like ignoring local MLAs, campaigning with public dollars and politicizing the bureaucracy. The Alberta NDP, and NDP parties everywhere, are motivated by a strict ideology that breeds a sense of self-righteousness so strong, they become indifferent to what is truly right and wrong.
We’ve seen the NDP’s disdain for the opposition take shape in many other ways recently as well. The abuse and politicization we’re currently seeing in Alberta’s freedom of information system is nothing short of disturbing. The Information and Privacy Commissioner just released a report blasting the government for this bad behaviour. And recently, it was reported that freedom of information officers are collecting all requests made by opposition parties, and handing that information over to NDP political staff for strategic use.
All this adds up to an erosion of democracy and accountability that Albertans do not accept.
MLAs should work together for the good of the province when the theatrics of Question Period come to a close.
The NDP is doing wrong by the province by treating the opposition so poorly.
Drew Barnes is the Wildrose Shadow Energy Minister and MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat