Allow me to divert your attention briefly away from Alberta politics and shift it over to Ottawa, where decorum is reaching an all-time low.
Earlier this week, BC MP James Moore was accused by Irene Mathyssen of the NDP of looking at "scantily-clad women" on his laptop in the House of Commons. Further investigation has completely absolved James and made an embarrassment of Ms. Mathyssen (rightly so).
I have known James Moore for at least 5 years now. If ever there was a young parliamentarian who understands and respects the sanctity of a legislative chamber, it is he. Irene Mathyssen attempted to grandstand a misunderstanding that could have been cleared up in 2 minutes if she had done what any other reasonable human being would have done... she should be rightly ashamed.
Watching James respond to this allegation was troubling. Troubling because he was quite clearly hurt by these allegations. No matter how untrue they are, victims will still feel like victims.
It reminds me of a similar episode from a few years earlier in the Alberta Legislature, courtesy of this man.
For those who don't remember, a summary thanks to the archives of the Canadian Parliamentary Journal:
On April 28th, Hugh MacDonald (Liberal, Edmonton-Gold Bar), raised a purported question of privilege relating to a document found in the Assembly which he considered to be hate literature. He stated that he had seen the document earlier in April and had notified the Speaker, who conducted an investigation. Mr. MacDonald indicated that he and other Members of his caucus had seen it in the possession of Drew Hutton (PC, Edmonton-Glenora), on April 24th. Mr. MacDonald submitted that this constituted a contempt of the Assembly. Mr. Hutton indicated that he had received the document but found it repugnant and offensive and threw it in the trash.
In his ruling, Speaker Kowalski acknowledged the exchange of documents with Mr. MacDonald, indicating that after an investigation by the Sergeant-at-Arms it could not be determined who placed the documents in the precincts on April 15th. The Speaker indicated that Members receive “countless” documents with which they do not agree. He ruled that there was no question of privilege. The next day, Mr. Hutton raised a purported question of privilege based on the allegations contained in Mr. MacDonald's question of privilege the previous day. The Speaker ruled that “there are few allegations that can be more detrimental than one of promoting or condoning discrimination.” He found that the remarks constituted an improper obstruction to Mr. Hutton performing his parliamentary work.
I remember how angry I was when this took place. Watching Drew Hutton, whose wife and children are Jewish, being forced to explain that he is the LAST person who would be spreading hateful literature was beyond unfortunate.
Elected officials, particularily those who tend to think more in terms of headlines and sound bites, need to remember that our legislatures are still made of real people who have feelings. The odd jab is to be expected, but false character attacks are usually way over the top AND usually backfire.
It certainly backfired for Irene Mathyssen, who has now been throughly embarrassed in the national media.
Hugh MacDonald, on the other hand, is one of Kevin Taft's star "Shadow Ministers".
Way to pick 'em, Kev.