Bully Politics Provincial Style

Posted: November 6, 2018 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ah the heckling for change from the Federal Level (discussed previously here) has continued its journey within our nation. This time coming out of the governing party of Alberta, the New Democratic Party with Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff’s recent announcements of a toxic culture within caucus due to leader control (here). Obviously the breaking of the thin caucus line led her caucus to “unanimously” boot her last night.

Image result for alberta NDP logoIt seems odd that an elected official would “strike” by not showing up for work as her statement said. Yet it has zeroed in attention that sitting as an independent or crossing to another party would. She has already declared she is not running again as her family wants her to spend more time with them. Yet in the parting shots she has opened up some intriguing things.

First- all political parties need to examine their toxic cultures. Yes one becomes members, and believes some (usually not all) of the party policies/ideologies. As the party is made up of smaller collectives different pockets can function differently due to the local make up. Yet, and this is a big yet, it is about power, and as such can bring out the worst in people. This was noted with why Sandra Jansen joined the NDP from the right, and now has Luff leaving the NDP. It is time for a gut check reflection of the party process, and a re-look at purpose. It is not power for powers sake, but rather serving citizens (that pesky first line of our Constitution Act, 1982: Peace, Order and Good Governance).

Second- Leaders are not be all and end alls. Within the Westminster System, as previous posts have exposed, Canada has done the reverse of other Commonwealth Nations. Wherein other countries Caucus health/direction/freedom is first; in Canada at Federal and Provincial it has become very top down. The advent in the 1970’s of the in-camera Question Period has led to more control and dramatics that do not actually support the first line of our Constitution.

This control extends further. With the UCP we saw it with the “bathroom runs” to avoid discussion on bills; and their leader tossing his grassroots guarantee. Now with the NDP in MLA Luff’s response to being removed from Caucus (Full statement here), she has two instances of control beyond the legislature:

For instance we were told that if we had any information on opposition members who had behaved inappropriately towards women that it was best not to go public with it because our party wasn’t completely without fault on the matter. This statement was never explained further, which is extremely problematic.

The thin caucus line of every political party that creates silence. Silence like we have seen within other power structures to protect (church, sport and entertainment to name but a few). Good Governance means opening up for full transparency. The challenge also illustrates why there possibly was not a full audit of financials of the government bureaucracy and MLA’s when the NDP took over after the 40+year PC dynasty (especially with the suspicious shredding by outgoing government). Could the same fear of loss be what drove the decision, not what was best for the people?

As well that this directive would come down:

When Jagmeet Singh was in town we got a text message saying not to be photographed with him.

Singh is the Federal NDP leader. Members are members of both parties, this is an outgrowth of the old social gospel-labour-human rights movements that founded the CCF which became the NDP. The provincial party has been trying to distance itself from the mess of the federal party recently, but to explicitly dictate that MLA’s could not be photographed with him, well…

I have always encouraged members of each party to call out the B.S. within their own party that harms. That takes away representation of citizens for leader control. It is hard enough to function for your constituents with the leader controls our system has moved to.

It is even harder when you are under constant duress and threat of loss of vocation. As with back benchers that have stepped up Federally to discuss and point out these concerns. It is now time to realize that these conversations cannot happen in isolation, and at a provincial level they need to happen. Members need to drive change within their parties. So do elected members, they need to speak up, and work if necessary against the cult of leader to produce the best service of citizen possible.

So thank you, Ms. Luff, for having the bravery to speak up and may your letter to the Speaker begin the process.

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