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Like Trump, Calgary MLA kicked out of NDP caucus proving there’s wisdom in sticking to professional politicians

Alberta Provincial Legislature Building. Photo: WinterE229 (WinterforceMedia)/Wikimedia Commons

Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff, kicked out of the provincial NDP caucus the night before for what was inevitably interpreted as flinging a spanner into the party works in the lead-up to an important election, expressed her shock and dismay at that entirely predictable outcome in a rambling Facebook post.

In it, Luff responded to her NDP party leader Rachel Notley's decision, which is surely the one any Canadian party leader regardless of location on the political spectrum would have made, by essentially throwing everything but the kitchen sink back at the premier. She also vowed to continue her irresponsible protest boycott of the legislature.

Among Luff's accusations -- far too entertaining to be ignored by mainstream media, especially the United Conservative Party auxiliary at Postmedia -- was the entirely believable claim that Alberta NDP caucus members had been asked not to appear in photographs with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Are we seriously expected to be shocked at this, given Singh's recent position on issues at variance with Notley's policies? Or, the tendency of the UCP troll farm to spin such pictures into damning and memorable memes?

Luff also complained of the NDP's treatment of her private member's bill, which proposed changes that she intended to increase renters' rights. Unsurprisingly, with a full legislative agenda and an election looming, party leaders were not enthusiastic. Luff, who is an honourable person and a genuine progressive, was said to be extremely unhappy. Luff was kicked out of caucus after announcing she would refuse to sit in the legislature to protest what she described as "a culture of fear and intimidation" in the government caucus.

Of course, if we had a nickel for every MP and MLA displeased with the treatment of their private member's bill, we could probably pay down the deficit!

That said, Alberta seems to be the home of over-the-top responses to this garden-variety parliamentary complaint.

Who can forget Edmonton-St. Albert member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber resigning from prime minister Stephen Harper's caucus in 2013 after melting down when his fellow Conservatives pushed changes to his private member's bill, which would have required public disclosure of any federal public employee's salary above $188,000?

Rathgeber is now back chasing St. Albert ambulances as a lawyer, with a sideline advising Edmonton city councillors on ethical issues.

Sad to say, human nature being what it is, this tactic is seldom likely to solve an unhappy office-holder's grievances.

Realistically, the breach between Luff and the NDP is now permanent, and complete. Luff will soon return to her teaching career, as she is said to have contemplated well before this blow-up.

Luff and U.S. President Donald Trump don't have a lot in common, obviously, but there is this: each in their own way, regardless of your political ideology or economic beliefs, is proof of the wisdom of sticking with professional politicians when picking candidates for public office.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Photo: WinterE229 (WinterforceMedia)/Wikimedia Commons

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