Edmonton·Podcast

The Ledge: Muffling debate on a controversial labour bill

On Thursday morning, legislature press gallery journalists were combing through hours of video and audio tape from the overnight debate on the Alberta government's controversial labour legislation, the Public Sector Arbitration Deferral Act.

Premier gave earplugs to his caucus to drown out noise of debate

As MLAs were debating a controversial piece of legislation late Wednesday and into Thursday morning, Premier Jason Kenney distributed earplugs to members of his caucus. (Alberta Legislature/Edit:CBC)

On  Thursday morning, legislature press gallery journalists combed through hours of video and audio tape from the overnight debate on the Alberta government's controversial labour legislation, the Public Sector Arbitration Deferral Act.

Everyone, it seemed, was on the hunt for evidence that Premier Jason Kenney himself was distributing ear plugs to his caucus members in the wee hours of debate on a bill that would delay wage arbitration for more than 100,000 unionized public servants.

The intention, a spokesperson for Kenney later said in a written statement, was a "harmless and light-hearted attempt to boost government caucus morale after being forced to listen to the NDP's insults, lies and over-the-top rhetoric for hours on end."

By early afternoon on Thursday, news was out that the $595-million superlab project had been cancelled by the UCP government, and Alberta's court challenge against the federal carbon tax was being launched. The government said timing about the court challenge was a coincidence.

Regardless, attention shifted away from earplugs and toward breaking news.

Talking to the Speaker

This week on the Ledge, we look at the earplugs issue, and the optics of drowning out the opposition during a debate that unions claim will roll back their rights under the Constitution.

Kim Trynacity sorts through testimonials from the earplug incident. Then Michelle Bellefontaine sits down with Speaker Nathan Cooper about his foray into video and social media.

We look ahead to the upcoming Western Premiers' Conference in Edmonton next week, and ponder the question of when the session will (finally) end.

Oh yes — there's also the issue of that TMX pipeline.

The Ledge — the "back-on" edition.

Earplugs and the optics of drowning out the opposition during debate. 22:00