Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Deceit in Alberta. Redford drops Steve Young from cabinet.

Edmonton Riverview MLA Steve Young was dropped from a cabinet spot by Alison Redford last week because of an incident which had occurred years ago while he was a constable with the Edmonton Police Service.

The parallels between the actions of Alison Redford and Steve Young are amazingly similar but one is much worse off than other is today. One is seeing the underside of the PC bus after they lost their job which was  publicly promised to them just a week ago while the other is driving that bus with no consequences (yet); even though both parties have done pretty much the same thing.

Young was accused of deceit under the Police Act for lying to his supervisors about his role in an incident when he denied that he had used a taser on a suspect.

Redford as Minister of Justice makes the decision on which legal firm to retain for Alberta's planned tobacco lawsuit but denied that she had made the decision.

When confronted with evidence ( Young's own incident report) He initially obfuscates ( 'This is crazy, that's brutal, that's absolutely brutal. Like talk about full disclosure. This is, this is ... unbelievable in my mind. That is dirty hands, I just can't believe that.') but to his credit, acknowledges the evidence and accepts that he did use the taser.

When confronted with evidence (memo) Redford for the better part of a year continues to deny her direct involvement (  'That doesn't change the fact that I did not personally make that decision.') but eventually reality takes hold and she not only acknowledges making the decision but has the arrogance to boast about doing so. ("It outlines that I did everything that a Minister would be expected to do in serving the public interest, and did so in a forthright, objective and unbiased manner.")

Young is subsequently cleared.

Redford is subsequently cleared.*

*Yes and no. Young was cleared of 'deceit', Redford was not.

While Redford was cleared of any violations of the conflict of interest act (which is the right the call as ex-spouses are not listed in the Act & it would be impossible to find anyone guilty of something which was not against the rules!) she has not been 'cleared' of other issues related to her actions on this file. In fact the Ethics Commissioners report makes a very good prima facie case that Alison Redford misled the Alberta Legislature, and the people of Alberta.

To put it simply; what the Premier said was not true. She did make the decision. This is now established fact.

Here is part of the Ethics Commissioners ruling on Redford's role: "I find it is entirely appropriate that a Minister, charged with the authority and responsibility for a final decision on a matter, exercise that authority to render a decision."  

It doesn't get any clearer than that.


To be continued...

Monday, December 02, 2013

Alberta Government found in contempt of the Legislature, but did the speaker overstep his authority after making the ruling?

A short time ago the Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, Gene Zwodesky, found a prima facie case of breach of privilege against the Government of Alberta for a mail-out it sent to all Albertans which made the following statement:

"Public sector employees,including teachers,doctors and government managers - as well as MLAs - are leading by example with multi-year wage freezes because it's the responsible thing to do for our province."

The offending parts of the statement, the words "as well as MLAs" + "multi-year wage freezes" as the mail-out occurred before the legislature, and in particular the Member Services Committee, had made any such decision on the pay of MLAs, and it is disrespectful to any parliament/legislature to ever assume that any decision will be made before it actually has been made.

Without going into the details on whether this was or was not disrespectful (it was/is) what happened following his ruling has me wondering if the speaker overstepped his authority and may himself be disrespecting the Alberta Legislature.

( Will fill the following with actual quotes when Hansard is available) Following his ruling the Speaker offered a chance for the Government to speak on the matter. The Deputy Premier rose to speak and was quickly shut down by the Speaker saying that he and the legislature were expecting an apology and not excuses or questions. The Deputy Premier then made an apology, the Speaker accepted it and declared that the matter was "concluded".

By convention in parliaments all around the world, including our federal parliament in Ottawa, the speaker's role in matters such as this is to decide if there is a 'prima facie case' that privilege was indeed breached, as Zwozdesky did, but once this has been determined their role in the matter ends. Look no farther than Ottawa for recent findings of contempt and the process following the ruling of the Speaker.

The Speaker does not decide any penalties, punishments or try to predict what actions the legislature may or may not take on the breach and certainly it is not up to him/her to decide for themselves that a simple apology is enough to conclude the matter. .

To do so is just as disrespectful to the legislature, by making assumptions on what the legislature will decide/not decide, as the original mail-out did.

I am not an expert on parliamentary procedure so if you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment.

Here are some comments from someone much more knowledgeable on the subject than myself:

Please read the Alberta Legislature Standing Orders: http://t.co/AsPjciC579  and the relevant rules used in Ottawa here.


A touch of irony. If the rules end up being followed and this matter does get before a legislative committee, that committee would be none other than the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing. More famously known as the "no-meet committee."  A history of Premier Redford and the No-meet committee.