Comments on intimidation, Margaret Thatcher prompt separate apologies in Alberta Legislature
EDMONTON -- Two MLAs are facing backlash for separate comments made at a Wednesday night session in the Alberta Legislature, one for his handling of an allegation for harassment, and the other for making controversial remarks about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
During a fierce debate over a proposed health care bill, Bill 30, St. Albert NDP MLA Marie Renaud made a frustrated comment regarding perceived intimidation in the chamber.
"The non-verbal stuff that goes on, the intimidation stuff that goes on, I have never as an adult worked in a place where I had to deal with this stuff," said Renaud, not specifying who the comment was directed toward. "I think it is quite clear we've entered into an area of debate which I think is intended to cause disorder and is insulting in nature."
Calgary-Currie UCP MLA Nicholas Milliken, who is filling in as the speaker of the chamber, then demanded an apology from Renaud for her comment.
"With regards to your comments, I ask you to withdraw and apologize," he said.
Renaud initially refused to apologize, resulting in a standoff lasting several minutes. She eventually apologized for disrupting the chamber, but not for her complaint and was ejected from the legislature.
"It was humiliating actually," she said. "I was trying to do my job, and I got kicked out."
It prompted the NDP to introduce a motion calling for a new stand-in speaker. In order to pass, the motion needed unanimous support, which it did not receive.
The NDP maintains Millken did not maintain decorum in the house, while the UCP says its members acted with respect and professionalism.
The NDP said its female members in particular seem to be the target for harassment and intimidation.
MARGARET THATCHER'S DEATH 'PROBABLY 30 YEARS TOO LATE': NDP MLA
In another controversial exchange, Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP MLA Marlin Schmidt made remarks about Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister who died in 2013.
"If nothing else goes right for me in a day Madam Speaker, I can at least count on enjoying the fact that Margaret Thatcher is still dead," said Schmidt. "And the only thing that I regret about Margaret Thatcher's death is that it happened, probably 30 years too late."
The comments were quickly deemed as "totally inappropriate" by the speaker and Schmidt was asked to withdraw the comments and apologize, which he did.
Alberta Premier called out the MLA in a tweet, characterizing his comments as "vile."
"Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest leaders of the last century," Kenney wrote. "Regardless of one's politics, it's vile to celebrate her death."
The comments were made during debate over Bill 26, which proposes changes to the Constitutional Referendum Act.
The NDP has previously called Bill 26 a veiled "power grab" by Kenney's United Conservative Party, while the UCP maintains it will give Albertans a greater say in politics by broadening the use of referendums.
With a report from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg