Rachel Notley kicked out of legislative assembly
EDMONTON -- Alberta New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley was removed from the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday afternoon after she refused to apologize for comments she made about Bill 22.
The bill, which was announced Monday, includes a move to "merge and consolidate the Office of the Election Commissioner into the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer,” and the termination of Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson’s contract.
The move comes in the midst of an investigation by Gibson into allegations of illegal donations in the 2017 UCP leadership race.
Notley accused the United Conservative government of obstruction of justice, demanding to know what the government is hiding. Speaker of the House Nathan Cooper demanded an apology, and Notley refused.
"The house leader is misleading the house, but the premier is saying Albertans are subject to one set of rules but when it comes to himself, it’s a whole new world and he can rewrite them as any cover-up demands," she said.
"Why won’t the premier explain to Albertans what exactly he is trying so hard to hide?"
That prompted Cooper to remind Notley of house rules.
“The leader of the opposition knows full well that she can’t make a statement like ‘the government house leader is misleading the house.’ She can apologize and withdraw,” Cooper said.
“I will not apologize until we have fully canvassed the destructive nature of this bill in a historic bill to the people in this province and the members of this house,” responded Notley.
Notley was removed from the assembly for the remainder of the day for her refusal to apologize.
Notley addresses the media
After being removed from the assembly, Notley took questions from the media about the events of the afternoon.
“We absolutely must have a full and unrestricted debate where we are talking about the facts,” she said. “That bill is in the legislature, it has been tabled. For the house leader to get up and say the bill doesn’t fire the commissioner is ridiculous. It shows the continued disrespect for the truth the house and democracy that is demonstrated every day by the UCP and particularly Jason Kenney and Jason Nixon.”
“I’m deeply troubled by this. There has never been an abuse of power like this in Alberta or in the country,” Notley said.
Notley also addressed the situation in an interview on CTV’s Power Play on Tuesday afternoon.
“Could you imagine if Justin Trudeau had fired the Ethics Commissioner in the middle of the SNC investigation? This is what this is akin to but somehow Jason Kenney thinks he is above the law.”
Letter to the lieutenant governor
Prior to question period on Tuesday, the NDP announced that Notley had sent a letter to Alberta Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell asking her to refuse to give the bill royal assent if it passes in the legislature.
The letter was also released to the media.
Election Commissioner pens letter
Gibson also spoke out on Tuesday for the first time since his contract termination was announced. In a letter to the media, he said was disappointed by the decision.
"This disappointment stems from my firm belief that the citizens of Alberta must have confidence and trust in the integrity of all aspects of the provincial electoral process, not just the casting and counting of ballots on election day," he wrote. "This includes trust and confidence that the election laws established by the legislative assembly are being followed and that there are consequences for those who choose not to follow them."