Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff has been removed from the government caucus, Alberta’s New Democratic Party announced Monday night after an MLA meeting in Edmonton.
“Owing to Ms. Luff’s actions, NDP MLAs have lost confidence in her ability to participate as a productive and trustworthy member of the government caucus,” read an Alberta NDP news release.
“The NDP caucus strives to work collaboratively and respectfully to advance an agenda that works for Albertans.”
Earlier in the day, Luff said she planned to protest the “toxic culture” in the party caucus, saying she wouldn’t take her seat in the legislature. Luff said strict controls placed on her by officials in Premier Rachel Notley’s government mean she can’t do her job representing her constituents.
WATCH: Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff says she couldn’t properly represent her constituents as a result of strict controls placed on her by party leadership.
“I have felt bullied by the NDP leadership for over three-and-a-half years and it must stop,” Luff said in a letter.
“Under Rachel Notley’s leadership, every power that MLAs are supposed to have to be able to represent their constituents in the legislature has been taken away or denied from the start.”
WATCH: A backbencher with the Alberta NDP says her party’s leadership uses a culture of fear and intimidation to keep members from properly representing the people who voted them in. Robyn Luff says she won’t take her seat in the legislature in protest. Tom Vernon reports.
An NDP spokesperson confirmed Luff’s removal from caucus would be “permanent.”
“Clearly, [Luff] no longer has confidence in the party or its leadership and so her presence in that party is not something that really can be sustainable,” said Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University.
“Given her own communication, it’s not a surprise at all,” Williams added. “She said she was leaving so, of course, her leaving caucus is almost a forgone conclusion. This is, potentially, a significant blow to Rachel Notley, her leadership and her government.”
Going into an election year, political parties need to portray a unified front, Williams said, adding the Luff dispute will raise concerns over Notley’s ability to listen.
“I’d be very curious to know what issue or issues have given rise to this, whether [Luff] had some sort of idealistic impression as to what an MLA might be able to do,” Williams said. “She wouldn’t be the first member of a party to express frustration at not being able to have more to say about the direction of the party.
“But realistically, parties have to try to pursue agendas that take into account all of their members, all of Albertans in this case, and what they consider to be best going forward. So I think it looks like the NDP party is just trying to do the best they can in terms of damage control.”
Earlier on Monday, government house leader Brian Mason said the party was trying to work out Luff’s concerns. He rejected Luff’s assertion that she can’t speak her mind and represent her constituents, adding that governing demands working together. In response, after she was kicked out, Luff tweeted, “At worst it sounds like Brian Mason is calling me a liar. At best, he’s saying I should grow a thicker skin and that I don’t understand how government works.”
– With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich and The Canadian Press
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