Photo: Government of Alberta/flickr

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Being an Alberta Tory, apparently, still means never having to say you’re sorry!

Leastways, Ric McIver was allowed back into the Legislature yesterday by Speaker Bob Wanner, who had tossed him out of the House the day before after the interim Progressive Conservative leader indulged in a very public temper tantrum that included repeatedly refusing to sit down when the Speaker told him to.

In the same circumstances, I suspect, most of us would have glared at Wanner and done as instructed slowly enough to let him know we weren’t very happy about it, those being the rules of the Legislature and everything.

Not McIver. But by then he was in full flight, so he engaged in what the professional news reporters in attendance redundantly termed “yelling and shouting” and refused to sit down until the Speaker had the Sergeant at Arms give him the bum’s rush.

There was a real issue at the heart of this argument, by the way, although it’s been rather lost in the folderol. To wit, whether Wanner made a decision in favour of an NDP MLA who wanted to amend McIver’s controversial motion supporting public funds for private and charter schools before he had heard Opposition arguments against it.

This appears to me not to have been the case, but I have no doubt McIver sincerely believed it was so when his hissy fit began to gather steam.

Regardless, Wanner — who for lack of a better layperson’s explanation is the chairperson of the Assembly — has allowed McIver back, even though the Tory Party Leader has refused to apologize for his outburst as required by Parliamentary practice.

Instead, McIver conceded, barely, that he understands the Speaker has the authority to tell an MLA to sit down and be quiet while order is restored, but stated three times he is “not apologizing” about refusing to do so. I wasn’t there, so I can’t honestly tell you he mumbled and scuffed his shoes in the dust as he was saying this, but that sounds about right.

Wanner — who seems like a sensible enough fellow — presumably decided the harm to the Legislature would be more serious from allowing this foolishness to continue than from permitting McIver to bend the rules to save his pride.

Making legislators look like morons, after all, is a well-known part of the conservative vote-suppression playbook, although I very much doubt that was what motivated McIver, who has his flaws as well all do, but has never struck me as a sneak.

So what did make him so mad? There was a day which this would have been laid at the feet of Dr. Spock — Dr. Benjamin Spock for those of you too young to remember when a significant number of people sincerely believed the author of the Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care was leading the Baby Boom generation down the garden path to destruction.

McIver, after all, was born right in the middle of that particular handbasket-trip to Hell, on Aug. 28, 1958, so even now it’s tempting to imagine there might be something to that theory, which went like this: Instead of teaching their kiddies to respect authority and sit quietly when they were told to, backed up with a good spanking as required, indulgent post-war parents took the notorious liberal doctor’s advice and taught their children they were the centre of the universe.

This way, all of society’s ills — including ducktails and Brylcreem™, which I admit are really bad — could be blamed on liberals, something North American conservatives continue to do to this very day.

Now that the Boomers have been around for quite a long time — too long, I am sure some would say — this is a very tempting explanation for an old white man having a televised tantrum in a public place.

However, myself being a Boomer raised on Dr. Spock’s indulgent theories, I have a different, I believe more credible, explanation. Quite simply, it’s that after nigh on 80 years in which they got to run this particular Legislature according to their whims, Alberta conservatives are having a lot of trouble adjusting to the reality they’re not in charge just now and the rules apparently apply to everyone, not just people who disagree with them.

That’s got to be a rough transition. It may explain why McIver told the Speaker on Monday: “I will not sit down unless you reverse the ruling that you made!” To his credit, I suppose, McIver didn’t threaten to hold his breath until he turned Tory blue.

Self-centredly Boomerish though it may seem, it’s from that uniquely Albertan conservative perspective that refusing to recognize the chairman of a meeting is the boss of you until adjournment may seem like rational behaviour to a grownup, as it apparently still does to McIver.

Other conservatives of various stripes are rumbling about how “concerning” they find this imbroglio. They are forgetting that PC speakers have been tossing Opposition MLAs out of the House since time immemorial.

Final conclusions? Only two:

  1. We must thank God in Her infinite mercy the rules don’t yet allow open carry in the Alberta Legislature! Our various unevolved species of conservative are undoubtedly working on changing that, however.
  2. Speaking of the Deity, all of us, but conservatives in particular, need to remember the words of the Good Book: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,” which, you can take it from me, is OK to abbreviate to, “Pride goeth before a fall.”

Thus endeth the lesson.

PCs decisively defeat Manitoba’s long-in-the-tooth New Democrats

I understand we have a result in the Manitoba election and that, after a good run of 16 years, that province’s NDP has been decisively defeated by that province’s Progressive Conservatives.

Congratulations to the PCs’ Brian Pallister for what seems from this distance to have been a good campaign, and so long to NDP Premier Greg Selinger, who by the sound of it was the author of many of his own and his party’s difficulties.

I cannot claim to know much about Manitoba politics, so I will refrain from drawing too many conclusions about this result. Those of us who support the Alberta NDP will now have to endure a few hours of our Facebook buddies on the right crowing about how this means our local Dippers are certainly doomed come 2019.

This is, of course, a conclusion that can’t be supported based on the vote in Manitoba, but we should allow them their enjoyment with good grace. After all, we will be spouting exactly the same kind of nonsense on May 9 next year, when John Horgan’s New Democrats replace Christy Clark’s conservative Liberals in British Columbia. Just sayin’.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog,

Photo: Government of Alberta/flickr

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David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...