June 25, 2019 6:16 pm
Updated: June 25, 2019 8:33 pm

Alberta legislature boss chides both UCP, NDP in earplug spat

Alberta legislature speaker Nathan Cooper said, while the NDP was right to take offense to the earplugs, ruling that someone deliberately misled the House is a high bar to meet - and rare. Tom Vernon reports.

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Alberta’s legislature boss is telling both the government and Opposition members to do better following an angry confrontation in the house over earplugs.

Speaker Nathan Cooper says the New Democrats were right to be upset last week when Premier Jason Kenney handed out the plugs so his caucus to tune out an overnight debate over a  contentious labour bill.

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READ MORE: Alberta premier under fire for handing out earplugs during legislative debate 

But Cooper has cautioned the NDP about taking the drastic step of asking him to find government house leader Jason Nixon in contempt of the legislature – which he has refused to do.

READ MORE: Alberta’s largest union files statement of claim against government over Bill 9

The NDP asked for the ruling after stating that Nixon put in the earplugs and later misled the house by saying nobody in government had done so.

READ MORE: UCP, NDP swap accusations, attacks in earplug debate

Cooper says that under the rules of the house he has to accept the word of members who are speaking about their own actions.

The NDP has criticized Kenney for handing out the earplugs and for his United Conservatives offering three different explanations as to why.

Watch below (June 20): During debate in the Alberta legislature Wednesday night, Premier Jason Kenney handed out earplugs. The move was not taken lightly, with NDP MLA David Eggen stopping debate to call out the caucus.

Kenney and his caucus say they were not being disrespectful and that Albertans are tuned in to more important issues.

Cooper says the onus falls on all members to make the legislature work even under difficult circumstances such as keeping long hours.

“It has not been my experience that there is a positive correlation between sitting late into the night and decorum in this assembly,” Cooper told the house Tuesday.

“We all must work together no matter what time of the day or night to ensure that order and decorum are maintained.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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