The opposition benches have become a much quieter place since the start of the spring session of the Alberta legislature.
With the arrival of Jason Kenney in the house as not only United Conservative Party (UCP) leader but the MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, a new sense of decorum has graced the opposition benches. No more shouting, no more banging on desks; only the occasional “hear, hear” or “shame.”
But UCP house leader Jason Nixon has twice alleged the New Democrats aren’t being civil in their comments during question period.
On Thursday, Nixon accused NDP finance minister Joe Ceci of heckling Kenney, saying he was not a real Albertan.
“He has lived in this great province for 27 years,” Nixon said as he pleaded his case to House Speaker Bob Wanner. “The idea the NDP, led by a minister of the crown, would continue to question the honourable member from Calgary-Lougheed … status as a member of this province is insulting.”
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NDP house leader Brian Mason told Wanner that Ceci had said no such thing.
“The minister of finance denies saying what the house leader opposite is accusing him of,” Mason said. “Nobody around him – and I sit very close to him – heard him say any such thing.”
“It was amazing, Mr. Speaker, again, that on the other side of the house they hear these things.”
On Wednesday, Nixon accused Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt of heckling Nathan Cooper, saying Schmidt said Cooper hated disabled people.
“I obviously didn’t hear the comment, although I’m sitting right in front,” said deputy government house leader Kathleen Ganley. “I have had the opportunity to confer with the minister of advanced education and he indicates that that’s not what he said.”
“Clearly this is a tactic, a new tactic, of the official opposition under the leadership of the new leader they have, to attempt to suggest members of the government have said things that they have not said,” Mason said.
“Our honourable members and ministers here have said no such thing, and it is high time the official opposition stop playing games and get down to business.”
But the UCP wouldn’t back down, instead accusing the NDP of playing games.
“The tactics are on the government’s side,” said Calgary-Hays UCP MLA Ric McIver. “It’s disreputable to this house. It’s not becoming of a minister of the Crown.”
Speaker Wanner said he did not hear either Schmidt or Ceci say what the UCP accused them of; dismissing the point of order in the process.
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