Calgary MLA plans return to Alberta legislature after being booted from NDP caucus
A Calgary MLA who has refused to take her seat in the Alberta legislature to protest what she has called a “toxic culture” in the building says she is now planning to return after speaking to her constituents.
Robyn Luff made the announcement in a news release on Monday, two weeks after the NDP kicked her out of its caucus over her boycott of the legislature.
“Nearly everyone I have spoken to has been supportive, and has asked that I return to the legislature to sit as an independent and to stand up for better representation and for issues that matter to them,” Luff said. “As such, I will be returning to the legislature this week.”
Luff said she consulted with her constituents since her exit from the NDP and held a town hall last Thursday.
“[My constituents] are also supportive of ensuring that there are clear and transparent processes to follow with regard to bullying and harassment in the legislature.”
Luff said she will meet with the Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly to request an “independent investigation into the bullying I experienced.”
“I have asked the premier’s office for the same thing, but my request has been ignored,” she said. “It is important for me to ensure there is a clear, transparent process in place for members of the legislature to follow if they feel they have been victims of bullying or harassment either from members of their caucus, another caucus, or political staff.
“Currently this is not the case.”
Watch below: (From Nov. 6, 2018) Calgary MLA Robyn Luff is not backing down after being booted from the NDP caucus. As Tom Vernon explains, she has levelled even more accusations against the party.
Luff said her return to the legislature on Wednesday is contingent on her receiving assurance that work will be done on the issue of bullying in the building.
Earlier this month, the Calgary-East MLA said she felt bullied by the NDP’s leadership and that she was unable to properly represent her constituents. Luff also said NDP MLAs were told by leaders it was best to stay silent about any information they may have about opposition members behaving inappropriately towards women “because our party wasn’t completely without fault on the matter.”
Soon after Luff announced her boycott of the legislature, Notley said she was “obviously very disappointed with the decision” made by Luff but that she was proud of her caucus and that its members “act with integrity.”
Watch below: (From Nov. 13, 2018) Premier Rachel Notley says her caucus won’t reveal the names of two MLAs accused of inappropriate behaviour because naming them could jeopardize the privacy of those who complained.
Since the spat between Luff and the NDP became public, the NDP has acknowledged two of its MLAs have been independently investigated for allegations of inappropriate behaviour. She said both cases have been addressed internally and that disclosing details and the names of the MLAs would put the privacy of those who complained at risk.
Criminal conduct was not alleged in either case.
Watch below: On Nov. 8, 2018, Tom Vernon filed this report about the NDP government admitting two of its members have been accused of inappropriate behaviour since taking office.
On Monday, Luff released a the contents of an email she said she sent to Notley on Nov. 10, in which she further discusses her concerns with the NDP’s caucus. You can read it in its entirety below.
A week before I went public, I specifically outlined that I felt bullied, with examples of when this occurred. You’ve put into the public record that my allegations had no foundation. This alludes to that there was some sort of investigation, or some sort of policy was enacted, which I wasn’t involved in, which makes no sense.
The Government of Alberta defines workplace harassment as “a single or repeated incident of objectionable conduct, bullying or action intended to intimidate or degrade a particular person or group.” And the LAO defines bullying as “a repeated pattern of negative behavior aimed at a specific person” and that negative behavior includes “abuse of authority that undermines someone’s performance or threatens his or her career”, “humiliation in front of others” and “belittling”. These are all things that I either mentioned in my letter or in my conversations with the Chief of Staff. At no time was I offered the official policy for dispute resolution or an investigation. All I was told was that I was using “strong” and “incendiary” language. In other words, I was saying I felt bullied, and the Premier’s office’s response was – “we don’t like your language.” Which amounts to being completely dismissive. If this was considered a serious issue, and clearly I was using language that indicated it was a serious issue, then why was the protocol to address it not enacted?
I would also like to note that since I have publicly discussed my experience, I have received sickening emails from other people who have worked as political staff or caucus staff, who say they have felt bullied, and express similar frustrations in a lack of a clear, independent process to deal with complaints of bullying or workplace harassment. Also, the most heartbreaking, emails from the spouses of MLAs who say they’ve felt their spouses are being bullied. This leads me to believe that a respectful workplace policy people trust is not in place within caucus, with political staff, or with MLAs. Because these emails were sent to me in confidence, I would have to consult a lawyer regarding how to proceed with releasing them to anyone. I need a response regarding the process that was followed to determine my allegations were without foundation, and also a response as to why a dispute resolution process was never offered in the week that I gave you, or in the meetings I had. I also have still not received a response from you regarding who is responsible for making the choice to take away member’s statements from people who chose to not run again. My final request is to ask for an answer regarding why Brian Mason said publicly that he “thinks people are able to speak their minds” when clearly what I wanted to say in a members statement was censored. I assume he was speaking for the NDP government when he said this, but it runs contrary to the experiences I have had.
If you choose to ignore me, I will have no other option but to escalate this further.
Thank you for your time,
–With files from The Canadian Press
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