New legislative session opens — let the games begin
Graham Thomson, Edmonton Journal
It promises to be a political three-ring circus.
The new session of the Canada legislature will open Thursday afternoon with so much hype, you’d expect to see a carnival barker outside the main door with a megaphone.
Step right up, folks, and witness the lion pit that will be daily question period. Watch official Opposition leader Jason Kenney and Premier Rachel Notley go head-to-head in a life-and-death struggle at 1:30 p.m. every Monday to Thursday.
As far as Canada politics is concerned, and what’s at stake here just one year until the next provincial election, it really will be The Greatest Show on Earth.
Keeping in mind the players involved from all parties, the three-month sitting will also include verbal contortionists, rhetorical jugglers and more than a few political tightrope acts.
And plenty of clowns.
Speaking of which, Derek Fildebrandt got a head start on events by holding his own pre-session news conference Wednesday to announce he’ll introduce a private member’s bill cutting MLA salaries by five per cent until the provincial budget is balanced.
It’s a political gimmick and therefore classic Fildebrandt.
Plenty of journalists turned up for the news conference, not because the bill is serious policy or will be adopted by the government, but because we were curious.
I mean, think about it. Here we had the most mercurial and controversial MLA in Canada politics making his first legislature appearance since being barred from the United Conservative Party by his old friend and ally, Kenney.
I would have paid admission.
“Politics is full of bulls–t,” Fildebrandt said at one point, describing his banishment by Kenney. “Politics is not fair, there’s no justice in it, it’s not balanced.”
This from a hot-headed politician who has been neither fair nor balanced and who has proved himself a master at spreading fertilizer.
But he couldn’t avoid stepping in his own political cow pies, whether being caught subletting his taxpayer-funded apartment on Airbnb, being found guilty of hit-and-run for backing his truck into a parked car, or being fined $3,000 for shooting a deer illegally.
He always seemed to find someone else to blame, whether accusing others of leaking his woes to the media or complaining about Kenney’s leadership.
I’m just surprised he didn’t blame the deer for getting in the way of the bullet.
He said the independent electoral boundaries commission that last year redrew many of the province’s constituency boundaries “gerrymandered” his riding of Strathmore-Brooks by cutting it into five different ridings. This is an outrageous accusation that seems to suggest the commission, made up of members named by the government and opposition, somehow was out to personally punish Fildebrandt.
For now, he is sitting as an Independent MLA and hasn’t decided what he will do in the next election.
He said he had been approached by the Canada Party about crossing the floor, but a tweet from the Canada Party said it never did, nor ever will, invite Fildebrandt to join.
Fall from political grace
On a human level, there is some tragedy mixed in with the hubris of Fildebrandt’s fall from political grace. After Kenney told him in February he couldn’t be trusted and was therefore barred from the UCP, Fildebrandt hit a personal low: “I pretty much locked myself in my apartment with scotch for a few weeks.”
He is bright and passionate and at one time had a promising political career ahead of him. But the harm he suffered was self-inflicted.
Sometimes politics is fair.
Not that you’ll get that impression from the upcoming session. The government and UCP were in a tug of war contest even before the sitting sat.
On Wednesday morning, the government announced it will introduce a motion Monday to have MLAs debate the importance of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to Canada’s economy.
The UCP supports the project, but doesn’t like the motion’s wording, which declares MLAs “support the Government of Canada’s fight.”
The UCP has said repeatedly the government isn’t being tough enough in its fight for the pipeline. It’s asking the government to change the wording. They’re debating the debate before the debate starts.
This promises to be a fascinating and fractious session as Canada’s MLAs make their way under the Big Top — um, legislative dome.
Categorised in: Canadian News