Conflict has continued in the Alberta legislature over the UCP’s controversial Bill 22, which would eliminate the election commissioner’s office that is currently investigating potential fraud in the UCP leadership race.
Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson’s investigation has already issued more than $200,000 in penalties.
In a heated session on Tuesday evening during the second reading of the bill, Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips (NDP) and Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf (UCP) made it clear that the city’s two legislature members have opposing views on the bill.
Phillips took the floor, saying, “the NDP Opposition opposes this bill because the foundation of democracy is the rule of law, and the law applies to everyone.”
“We care because he has before him an active investigation,” said Phillips, who pointed out that the bill provides no obligation to continue open investigations.
Phillips took to Twitter to address the divide in Lethbridge representation, saying she would stand up for the city’s citizens, regardless of their riding.
On the opposing side, Neudorf expressed his support for the bill, adding that investigations may still continue and the primary intent is to streamline administration and save money.
Neudorf said: “On a trajectory to reach $100 billion of debt, that is a legacy I will not leave for my children, and I will support this bill.”
The first-year MLA said he sees the divide as an equal representation of two sides of the issues, and that the discourse will help to shape the bill in future readings.
“The bill isn’t finished yet. It still has its second reading committee of the whole and third reading,” he said.
“There may be changes and amendments to that to strengthen that language, but my trust is in the independence of that office, reviewing and investigating all subject matter that they deem necessary to do so.”
Phillips announced an investigation into the election commissioner’s spending and work through her role as chair of the public accounts committee.
“I am comfortable using every oppositional tool that we have,” said Phillips, with NDP Leader Rachel Notley echoing that sentiment on Wednesday afternoon.