Edmonton

MLAs bicker over Derek Fildebrandt decision to end service with Telus

MLAs exchanged barbs on social media Wednesday after Wildrose member Derek Fildebrandt said he cut his ties with Telus over its support for the new federal carbon plan.

Telus has apologized for the tweet, is contacting customers who expressed anger

"I'm disappointed in your decision to back a carbon tax," Fildebrandt said in a message to Telus posted on his Twitter account. (CBC)

MLAs exchanged barbs on social media Wednesday after Wildrose member Derek Fildebrandt said he cut his ties with Telus over its support for the new federal carbon plan.

"I'm disappointed in your decision to back a carbon tax," Fildebrandt said in a message to Telus posted on his Twitter account. "I am cancelling Telus services for myself and all of my offices."

On Tuesday, the telecommunications giant issued a tweet supporting Justin Trudeau's decision to implement a national price on carbon. The price is proposed to start at $10 a tonne in 2018, Increasing to $50 by 2022.

NDP MLAs Shaye Anderson and Thomas Dang called Fildebrandt out on his message by posting tweets of their own.

"Are you saying that you're going to use public money in the constit. office for partisan boycotts on Alberta companies?" Dang asked.

"Are you going to boycott all of the other companies that support carbon pricing? Shell? Suncor? Etc," Anderson tweeted.

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative MP for Calgary-Nose Hill, criticized Telus in her members' statement in the House of Commons.

"The reality is Telus likely isn't going to be the one to pay for the increased cost to operate  their business," she said. "Their customers likely are by paying more for their products and services and Telus's employees will likely experience a pay cut when this tax on everything hits them."

'We're very sorry'

The original tweet from Telus sparked a flurry of angry social media postings from people vowing to cancel their accounts. The company apologized, saying the tweet was not intended to be partisan or political.

"Our tweet was inappropriate and we're very sorry," Richard Gilhooley, a senior media relations manager with Telus, said in a written statement.  

"We are now in the process of reaching out directly to those customers who shared their upset and disappointment with us to ensure they know that we heard them.

"We are also sharing every piece of feedback internally so that we can inform our sustainability policies and initiatives going forward."

Despite the apology, the tweet remained on the company's Twitter account. 

Telus, established in Alberta in 1990, is now based in Vancouver.

The corporation has 14,000 current and retired employees in Alberta.

CBC News asked for a comment from Fildebrandt about the optics of cancelling business with a company that employs thousands of Albertans.

He declined through Wildrose deputy communications director Samantha Johnston.

"Derek is going to let his tweet stand for itself, and won't be commenting further," Johnston wrote in an email.