Dispute over ruling gets PC leader Ric McIver kicked out of legislature
PC leader questioned why some MLAs had written copy of ruling before amendment debated
Interim PC leader Ric McIver was tossed out of the Alberta legislature Monday after a showdown with Speaker Bob Wanner over the questionable timing of a written ruling on an amendment.
McIver introduced a motion on Monday, and the government then introduced an amendment to his motion. McIver became upset after he received a printed ruling before any arguments were made on that NDP amendment to his motion.
After Wanner read back the ruling word for word, McIver began shouting.
Wanner, the NDP MLA for Medicine Hat, repeatedly demanded that McIver sit down. When McIver refused, he was removed from the legislature.
A visibly shaken McIver spoke to reporters later while clutching a printed copy of the ruling.
"The dignity of the house must be upheld," he said, as members of the PC caucus joined him on the steps outside the assembly chamber.
McIver said he didn't know when he would be allowed to return.
"I'm new at this. I just have no idea what happens next."
CBC was unable to reach Wanner for comment.
The confrontation started shortly after 5 p.m., when McIver introduced Motion 504, which called on the government to confirm its commitment to allow parents to choose to send their children to charter, private, francophone, public or separate schools, or to home school them.
Shortly afterwards, Calgary-East NDP MLA Robyn Luff introduced an amendment to that motion, which called for the government to confirm its commitment to private, charter and home-schooling, but only when there are no alternatives available in the public system.
Amendments to motions are not typical so Luff said that she had parliamentary counsel review hers to make sure it was in order. Wanner was asked to rule on the amendment. After finding Luff's amendment in order, all hell broke out.
'I did not receive this'
McIver protested because PC MLAs received copies of a written ruling on Luff's amendment before Wanner heard arguments on the matter.
"This was printed out before people stood up in this house and made their arguments. I know because I have it in my hand, it's in Hansard," McIver shouted. "This is not the way you run a legislature, Mr. Speaker.
"I'm sorry Mr. Speaker, I know you're unhappy with me. But I'm not happy with you."
McIver's microphone was then cut out but he continued to shout at Wanner.
"Honourable member, would you please sit down," Wanner said.
"No, I will not," McIver replied. "Not unless you reverse your ruling, Mr. Speaker."
Wanner said he had no prior knowledge of Luff's amendment and said the document was handed to him by one of the legislature pages at the same time McIver received it.
"Lest there be any suggestion that I had any notice of this coming to me, I did not," Wanner said.
"I did not receive this, and I am curious how this was received by me."
After refusing Wanner's repeated requests to sit down, McIver was escorted from the house by the sergeant-at-arms.
Wildrose House Leader Nathan Cooper said he has questions about what happened.
"We certainly have some concerns about decisions that may or may not have been pre-decided inside the chamber."
The last person to be kicked out of the legislature was Edmonton-Ellerslie Liberal MLA Bharat Agnihorti in April 2007. Agnihorti was removed after asking what "secret friends of the Tories" had received lottery grant money. At the time, Speaker Ken Kowalski said it was the first ejection in nine years.
In April 1990, Edmonton-Centre New Democrat MLA William Roberts was kicked out by Speaker David Carter after expressing anger that the legislature would not debate extending human rights to gay and lesbian Albertans.