By Jason Nixon
MLA, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre Official Opposition Whip, Democracy and Accountability Advocate
Well, that didn’t take long.
Less than a year after taking office, the NDP government has abandoned any pretense of cleaning up government, and fully adopted the former PC government’s unethical political playbook. The Notley administration’s most recent attempt to rig the system in the NDP’s favour came earlier this month, with the Minister of Education hosting a funding announcement clearly designed to influence the Calgary-Greenway by-election.
The practice of vote buying during by-elections was a staple of the former PC government, and perfected under former Education Minister Gordon Dirks. Of course, while in opposition, the NDP vehemently opposed the practice.
Former NDP leader and current minister Brian Mason lambasted the Redford PCs of “misusing resources for partisan purposes, while Notley called for amendments to the Elections Act to, “prohibit MLAs from using government resources during elections or by-elections.”
Yet, last fall when my friend and colleague Rick Strankman proposed legislation to ban government vote-buying announcements during campaign periods, Notley and company scrapped the bill by sending it to committee. I guess now we know why.
These old-style political party tactics came on the heels of yet another NDP scandal, which saw the Premier serve as a guest of honour at an Ontario NDP fundraiser, Feb. 19, at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Invitations to the $9,975 per ticket event were directed to companies that have substantial commercial interests in Alberta. As our Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Democracy and Accountability, I personally wrote to Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner about this highly suspect and secret event, which was not included on the Premier’s public itinerary. Whether or not this violates Alberta’s law banning corporate and union donations, it certainly smacks of the kind of influence peddling that plagued the former PC government. It also breaks the NDP’s own ethical standards, as expressed by Notley in 2012, when she said, “We, in fact, have a principle and a rule in our party that we don’t accept corporate donations. Not withstanding that the law allows it, we don’t accept them.”
It seems clear to me the NDP’s has fully adopted the kind of old-style politics that is holding our province back.
Albertans deserve better.
Our Official Opposition remains dedicated to doing democracy differently. We believe that a MLA’s first responsibility is to these citizens, so we recognize that MLAs must have the freedom to vote accordingly.
In addition, we recognize that our province is stronger when we give citizens more power. For this reason we have launched a petition to support new recall legislation. If you are interested in learning more, go to: www.supportrecall.ca
As Alberta’s recession continues, the government’s preoccupation with old-style politics is failing our families, our communities, and our economy. As the spring session of the Legislature continues, I will be providing my full support to democratic reform initiatives designed to put Albertans first.