Former AB NDP MLA On Oppressiveness Of Party Influence & MLA Autonomy

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Mighty Middle
Former AB NDP MLA On Oppressiveness Of Party Influence & MLA Autonomy

A Calgary MLA who was recently ousted from the NDP caucus claims that Alberta New Democrats were told not to be photographed with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh or to go public if they knew about opposition politicians who had behaved inappropriately towards women.

Robyn Luff went public on Monday with complaints about bullying within the party, saying there is a “culture of fear and intimidation.” By Monday night, Luff was out of the party. In a statement — which misspelled Luff’s first name as “Robin,” not “Robyn” — the party said her fellow caucus members had “lost confidence in her ability to participate as a productive and trustworthy member of the government caucus.”

On Tuesday, the former Alberta NDP backbencher fired back with a lengthy statement posted to Facebook that detailed her concerns about the way Premier Rachel Notley is running the party and government.

“For some time now, I have been having increased anxiety and stress responses when I know I have to have meetings where my concerns will be belittled,” she said.

She added that NDP MLAs are often told what to do and say.

“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,” she wrote. “When Jagmeet Singh was in town we got a text message saying not to be photographed with him.”

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman told reporters Tuesday that sexual harassment and bullying are “never OK” and she was unaware of any directive about party members bringing up allegations about inappropriate behaviour, or about any current allegations.

“I want to be very clear that we in no way tolerate sexual harassment, assault, bullying, harassment, sexual improprieties in any way,” Hoffman said. “Of course, rumours are rumours, but certainly it is not our intention to ever stifle — we stand with survivors.”

Jason Kenney, the United Conservative Party leader, said he was unaware of any allegations of inappropriate behaviour. “With respect to our own MLAs, no, and I’m not aware of any with respect to MLAs in other parties either,” Kenney said.

As for the accusation that the party told members not to be photographed with Singh, Hoffman said the federal NDP leader “has not been a friend to Albertans.”

“I would be surprised if any of our MLAs wanted to take a picture with Jagmeet Singh, but I wouldn’t be shocked if people were reminded of his history on that and discouraged from doing so,” she said. “I certainly have no interest in standing for a photo with somebody who has a proven track record of attacking our oilsands.”

In her statement, Luff said that she wasn’t the only NDP MLA who felt unable to represent their constituents under Notley’s leadership.

“I have had staff members, party members, and caucus members tell me, all confidentially, that they have felt this too, but are too scared to come forward,” she said.

Luff also wrote that she had accused Notley to her face of “running the government no differently than Stephen Harper.” Asked in Question Period about the controversy, Notley said the NDP has a good team.

“I’m obviously very disappointed with the decision that was taken by the member from Calgary-East, but let me also just say how proud I am of the team that sits with me here on this side of the house,” Notley said. “They are doing extraordinary jobs.”

Graham Sucha, another NDP backbencher, told reporters that the allegations are “unfounded” and the decision to remove Luff from caucus was unanimous.

“We didn’t like the path that she took to try to address (her concerns),” Sucha said. “I have never seen bullying on my end and many of our members recognized and said that they never saw it on their end either.”

Calgary MLA Karen McPherson left the government caucus last October and backed up Luff’s assertions about information control, writing on Twitter: “I left last year and what Robyn said is accurate. Robyn’s methods aren’t the issue.”

The Post reached out to Luff for an interview, and was told she is “doing her best to respond to all interview requests in a timely fashion but there are a lot of them.”

Luff said she will not join another party and will no longer be sitting in the legislature. She had previously announced that she would not be running in the provincial election, which will be held in Spring 2019.

“My children have made it abundantly clear that they would prefer to have more of my attention,” she said. “And I intend to honour that.”

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/robyn-luff-fires-back-at-alberta-...

voice of the damned

“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,” she wrote.

I would think that another good reason for not going public with such information is that, unless the victim herself has already gone forward, you're not gonna have any evidence to back up what you're saying. It's just gonna be "I've heard that the MLA for Buttcrack West has sexually harassed women", and no one will have any reason to think that you're more credible than a UCP MLA getting up and saying the same thing about a New Democrat.

And if the victim has already gone  public, or is planning to do so soon, then there is no need for a New Democrat MLA to go public with the info.

R.E.Wood

Mighty Middle wrote:

Luff said she will not join another party and will no longer be sitting in the legislature. She had previously announced that she would not be running in the provincial election, which will be held in Spring 2019.

“My children have made it abundantly clear that they would prefer to have more of my attention,” she said. “And I intend to honour that.”

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/robyn-luff-fires-back-at-alberta-...

Why doesn't she resign her seat and let a byelection happen so that the constituents in her riding can have representation? Sounds like she's just going to keep collecting her paycheque as an MLA while not actually showing up to work. 

Misfit Misfit's picture

Perhaps because an election is less than 6 months away.

R.E.Wood

Well then she should donate every cent of her pay (for the time she refuses to show up to work) to worthwhile charities in her riding and apologize the the citizens for her inability to do her job.

 

voice of the damned

Assuming a four-year term for the government, six months is a little over 12% of the total time. Make of that what you will.

WWWTT

R.E.Wood wrote:

Mighty Middle wrote:

Luff said she will not join another party and will no longer be sitting in the legislature. She had previously announced that she would not be running in the provincial election, which will be held in Spring 2019.

“My children have made it abundantly clear that they would prefer to have more of my attention,” she said. “And I intend to honour that.”

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/robyn-luff-fires-back-at-alberta-...

Why doesn't she resign her seat and let a byelection happen so that the constituents in her riding can have representation? Sounds like she's just going to keep collecting her paycheque as an MLA while not actually showing up to work. 

Sitting in legislature is not the only part of the job.

R.E.Wood

Has she given any indication that she plans to do anything other than spend time with her kids? No. She's abdicating her elected duties while whining about her "anxiety and stress" and making vague allegations. Sounds like she was never cut out for politics to begin with. She'd already announced she's not running again. Now she's announced she's not even going to show up for work for the last 6 months of her job, but given no indication she's relinquishing her pay. I have no respect for actions like that at all.

 

brookmere

She's done Notley a favour by not resigning. If she had, Notley would be facing demands from the UCP to call a by election that the NDP would almost certainly lose, shortly before the general election. I don't know whether Alberta law would actually require the by election to take place before the general, but any premier would put off such a by election if they could.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

It depends on whether or not she shows up for work in her constituency office. If she does that part of the job properly and dilegently then she deserves her salary because for most citizens that is the most important role of an MLA. Her statements seem to be saying I will not go into the House because my efforts to bring forward issues in that forum has been an utter waste of time.

I have seen the Sask NDP up close and personal during the early '90's and the BC NDP from the mid-'90's on. They both demonstrate the worst style of internal democracy. In the trade union movement many unions are rigidly controlled from the top and that is the model the NDP seems to follow.  Jack Muroe in BC taught Ken Georgetti well. Ken was an extremely autocratic head of the BC Fed and one of the major influences on how the BC NDP was run. Very much a shut your mouth and let your "leaders" speak attitude to even members of the BC Fed Executive Council and an iron fist in internal meetings. Having been to numerous meetings he Chaired I used to say he ran on time just like a good railway company.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

It's never a good sign when you can say a union leader "made the trains run on time".

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I wonder if Luff will spend the last few months sitting as an Alberta CCF MLA?

quizzical

no. maybe UCP though. 

btw not up for your mockery trolling of Erin Weir.

it's kinda ewey don't cha think.

Misfit Misfit's picture

And if the unions ran the railways and the engineers and conductors were allowed to do their jobs without management interference, the trains would run much better on schedule.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

quizzical wrote:

no. maybe UCP though. 

btw not up for your mockery trolling of Erin Weir.

it's kinda ewey don't cha think.

Not intended to mock Weir...simply wondering if, since he introduced the idea of sitting as a CCF'er for his own purposes, someone else might do so for another reason.  Not sure why you think the MLA we're discussing here would cross to the UCP...she is critiquing the ABNDP from the Left, from what I can see.

quizzical

lolol. ha!

"left critiquing".

i get so tired of this imposition of sides and divisions. they don't make sense to average people and they especially don't make sense in the context of AB.

 

 

Misfit Misfit's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

“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,” she wrote.

I would think that another good reason for not going public with such information is that, unless the victim herself has already gone forward, you're not gonna have any evidence to back up what you're saying. It's just gonna be "I've heard that the MLA for Buttcrack West has sexually harassed women", and no one will have any reason to think that you're more credible than a UCP MLA getting up and saying the same thing about a New Democrat.

And if the victim has already gone  public, or is planning to do so soon, then there is no need for a New Democrat MLA to go public with the info.

Agreed.

voice of the damned

quizzical wrote:

lolol. ha!

"left critiquing".

i get so tired of this imposition of sides and divisions. they don't make sense to average people and they especially don't make sense in the context of AB.

 

 

FWIW, she has gone on record as saying that the NDP has provided Alberta with its best government in thirty years, by which I assume she means since Lougheed retired. Going by that, she'd probably be a closer fit with the Alberta Party, though my understanding is she wants to leave politics entirely.  

WWWTT

kropotkin1951 wrote:

It depends on whether or not she shows up for work in her constituency office. If she does that part of the job properly and dilegently then she deserves her salary because for most citizens that is the most important role of an MLA. Her statements seem to be saying I will not go into the House because my efforts to bring forward issues in that forum has been an utter waste of time.

Yep sounds right!

I have approached 3 different MP's offices where I reside with issues. 2 liberal and 1 conservative. And ONLY the conservative MP actually got involved and got the best result to resolve my issues!!!!

From my experience, there's no substitute for hard work! And I hate lazy ass dog fuckers! Also from my experience, liberal MP's are laziest bunch of them all!

Sean in Ottawa

I am responding to the issue of not going public with sexual scandals. In many cases I think going public may not ALWAYS be the best thing. I think when it is within your own party, by all means great  to come up with a solution and bring it to the public provided the victim wants this. But make sure it is open and fair with authorities.

When it is an opposition party, it is best to seek out what the victim is looking for. There are other ways of supporting someone than making it a political football. If you want genuine change rather than political points contacting the other party and working with them might be a great start. The other party may be willing to consider a process that does what the victim is looking for -- taking it seriously, an impartial investigation, with the correct authorities and consequences. This might be easier to achieve at times with more than one party involved where all sides are aware that it will go public only if the result is not satisfactory.

The imediate politicization is not constructive as one party pretends that it is always clean and the other tries to defend the indefensible as a political problem.

Understanding that this problem cross all boundaries - political, social and economic is a first step.

It is tragic for any party to lose a great spokesperson to a scandal and a lot more tragic to cover up this kind of behaviour. Parties need to be willing to always respond to this properly and to not make it a partisan issue if the other party is responding appropriately. The public has to accept that it cannot protect those who do this and cannot presume that those on their side (however that is defined) are immune or worthy of protection. Only with this can a difference be made.

Sean in Ottawa

WWWTT wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

It depends on whether or not she shows up for work in her constituency office. If she does that part of the job properly and dilegently then she deserves her salary because for most citizens that is the most important role of an MLA. Her statements seem to be saying I will not go into the House because my efforts to bring forward issues in that forum has been an utter waste of time.

Yep sounds right!

I have approached 3 different MP's offices where I reside with issues. 2 liberal and 1 conservative. And ONLY the conservative MP actually got involved and got the best result to resolve my issues!!!!

From my experience, there's no substitute for hard work! And I hate lazy ass dog fuckers! Also from my experience, liberal MP's are laziest bunch of them all!

This is not my experience.

It is also true that people often call their own party and it is hard to know the workload of an MP. MPs get calls from outside their riding frequently. Some ridings have a lot more problems and calls than others.

One issue is that the immigration system is so dysfunctional that the bulk of its work goes through MP's offices. wherever there is a riding with a high number of immigrants, the MPs will end up losing a staff member just for immigration. (You cannot call or go into an office without an appointment so the only think you can do is call an MP.) To make matters worse, the Conservatives destroyed their reputation in a number of areas during the Harper years such that many of the people in those ridings would call NDP and Liberal offices swamping them with these calls as they woudl not trust the Conservatives.

There are other areas that also are directed to MPs but immigration seems to be the top one in the ridings I am familiar with.

I am quite familiar with the work of several MPs offices from three different parties (NDP, Liberal and Conservative). I think all three are more partisan than people would like (in part due to presumptions of callers and in part the offices themselves). The Conservatives are in some cases openly hostile to some people. None of the MPs I have had contact with were lazy. The Conservatives directed more of their help to business while the others did not. As a result both the Liberals and NDP received way more calls for help.

I have never been a Liberal but the Liberal MPs I have known, I saw were extremely hard-working as were the NDP MPs. I did not know the Conservatives well enough to say the same but my impression from a greater distance is the same although with different priorities. Many of the MPs I have seen to be hard working are people I did not support and whose positions I oppose.

WWWTT

LOL!

ok this is thread drift but I just can’t resist 

When an MP is too busy to help their constituents, then who are they representing ?

JKR

WWWTT wrote:

LOL!

ok this is thread drift but I just can’t resist 

When an MP is too busy to help their constituents, then who are they representing ?

Steven Harper could easily answer that question, "they're representing Justin's circus freak show!!!"

Sean in Ottawa

WWWTT wrote:

LOL!

ok this is thread drift but I just can’t resist 

When an MP is too busy to help their constituents, then who are they representing ?

huh -- your point?

cco

kropotkin1951 wrote:

It depends on whether or not she shows up for work in her constituency office. If she does that part of the job properly and dilegently then she deserves her salary because for most citizens that is the most important role of an MLA. Her statements seem to be saying I will not go into the House because my efforts to bring forward issues in that forum has been an utter waste of time.

Having worked in an MP's office -- and as someone who believes firmly in the constituent service aspect of that job -- the actual handling of the overwhelming majority of cases is done by staff. An MP/MLA's prestige can get a lot of stuff done at the local level, but they're neither social workers nor warlords. That elected official's power, in turn, is determined by legislative work.

A cabinet minister of the party in power has a lot of clout; an opposition backbencher has less, but still has whatever clout the party provides, if s/he's in good standing or on an important committee. An independent's power comes entirely from Chuck Cadman scenarios, which can't happen if she refuses to attend the legislature, and the very occasional bit of moral suasion.

Let me be clear: I'm neither in favour of strict whipping and muzzling nor the American system where every member's up for independent auction. I'm just saying that an independent who boycotts the legislature can only serve her constituents by solemnly telling them she feels their pain.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So do you believe that Independent MP's are a waste of time and do not deliver the proper level of service to their constituents? Should they be allowed?

JKR

We'd have many more independents elected if we had PR-STV.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Should they be allowed?

Are you referring to, as cco said, "an independent who boycotts the legislature", or an independent who sits in the legislature?

cco

kropotkin1951 wrote:

So do you believe that Independent MP's are a waste of time and do not deliver the proper level of service to their constituents?

No. Independent MPs also hire staff for constituent service.

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Should they be allowed?

Yes. However, if they refuse to sit in the legislature, they're not doing their jobs. That's ultimately up to the voters to decide, of course (Sinn Féin MPs boycott the British House, and the residents of West Belfast seem fine with this), but saying "I can do so much more for my voters if I never show up to work" is a pretty lame excuse for not resigning. At that point, the only way you're representing anyone is if you grandstand in the media (hold press conferences, write open letters, that sort of thing).

WWWTT

Ok cco fair enough then. Sounds logical  I going to take the position that I disagree with where our elected officials put their focus on  

Thanks for that

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

CCO You have a good point although you know that most days there are a minimum of MLA's in attendance in the House.

After reading your post I was reminded of the Profs at the U of S who tried to get their salary paid for doing research at home while their fellow facility were walking a picket line.

jerrym

[quote=cco]

[kropotkin wrote]

Should they be allowed?

 

Yes. However, if they refuse to sit in the legislature, they're not doing their jobs. That's ultimately up to the voters to decide, of course (Sinn Féin MPs boycott the British House, and the residents of West Belfast seem fine with this), but saying "I can do so much more for my voters if I never show up to work" is a pretty lame excuse for not resigning. At that point, the only way you're representing anyone is if you grandstand in the media (hold press conferences, write open letters, that sort of thing).

The Sinn Fein exception is important IMO because if the voters feel the Parliament is illegitimate I consider it their right to vote for and support a MP who refuses to enter the Parliament for this reason.