March 15, 2016 2:51 pm
Updated: March 15, 2016 5:42 pm

Alberta MLA admits to ‘flipping the bird’ in house

The Alberta Legislature on Feb. 26, 2016.

Wes Rosa, Global News

EDMONTON – A backbench NDP member has apologized to the Alberta legislature for making an obscene gesture at an opposition member and then misleading the house when he was caught.

“I made an inappropriate gesture to members opposite, which I regret and for which I apologize,” Michael Connolly, the member for Calgary Hawkwood, said Tuesday morning in the chamber.

“My actions were not befitting of this chamber and the dignity herein.”

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It was last Thursday during heated debate over the government’s jobs policy that the Wildrose Opposition said Connolly “flipped the bird” in their direction.

Connolly initially denied it at the time, saying he was just waving his hand.

But he admitted to it Tuesday after a table officer in the house later reported he saw Connolly make the gesture.

“When this matter was raised at the time I sought to minimize the matter instead of taking full responsibility,” Connolly told the house Tuesday.

“To be clear, my actions were not acceptable, and my apology and explanation were not good enough.”

Outside the house, Connolly told reporters he made the gesture out of frustration because he felt the Wildrose was refusing to answer questions on social policy.

“I leaned back and I threw up a gesture out of frustration and immediately regretted it because I had realized what I had done,” he said.

However he told reporters he did not intentionally mislead the house.

“I was not thinking clearly at the moment,” he said.

Deliberately misleading the house is considered a serious breach as it affects the ability of the legislature to carry out its work effectively.

Connolly is one of the many newcomers voted in when Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP defeated the Progressive Conservatives in the May 2015 general election.

The 22-year-old Connolly has some previous political experience.

He studied history and political science at the University of Ottawa before interning in the office of Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton.

It’s the second apology from the NDP side of the house in less than week in the new session of the legislature.

Last Wednesday, Government House Leader Brian Mason apologized after he and other NDP members broke the rules to enter the chamber, barging past the pages, to vote for a new deputy chair of committees.

House rules dictate that once such a vote begins, no absent members may enter the chamber.

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