UPDATE to story: Late in the day a release from the NDP said Luff had been removed from caucus because her colleagues have lost confidence in her ability to participate as a productive and trustworthy member.
The decision to expel Luff followed a meeting of party members in Edmonton Monday evening.
Calgary NDP MLA Robyn Luff says she will boycott sitting the provincial legislature in protest of a “culture of fear and intimidation” by the government.
In a press release the came out over the lunch hour on Monday, Luff aired her grievances as a backbench MLA in Rachel Notley’s NDP government.
“Under Rachel Notley’s leadership, every power that MLAs are supposed to have to be able to represent their constituents in the legislature has been taken away or denied from the start,” read a statement from Luff.
She complained that MLAs must vote at the leader’s direction at all times, and that questions she and others in the backbench ask in the legislature are pre-written by ministries.
“If MLA’s should choose to go against any of these directives, there is a fear that they will lose privileges, such as their seat on a committee or opportunity to speak in the house. There is also a fear that they will be isolated, and that their political career will be finished, that their nomination papers will not be signed and opportunities never given.”
Luff said this tightly controlled message – which her release suggests also happens under the official opposition – results in hyper-partisan rhetoric, and stifles any real debate on bills.
According to Luff’s release, she was told by an unnamed cabinet minister that her own career was sidelined when she did not act quickly enough on the direction of a chief of staff.
Although they’re not outlined in her release, Luff says she has ideas to address the problems that she sees.
“I have several suggestions that I hope the Premier will consider in the legislature and start the conversation as an important public discussion and until she does, I will be protesting,” says Luff.
In a media scrum outside the legislature, House Leader Brian Mason said he didn’t think what Luff is doing is fair to her constiutents, who elected her to be in the legislature.
“I’m disappointed quite frankly,” said Mason. “I know the premier’s office had reached out to her in the past few days and they’re hoping to find some resolution to her concerns. It’s kind of a disappointing situation.”
Mason said there’s time for discussion, but decisions are made and the party moves forward as a whole.
“People have to realize that;’s the way government works,” he said.
Mason didn’t think Luff’s characterizations of bullying were fair, and he said MLAs are not simply handed questions to read out in the legislature.
When asked by reporters, he was unclear about her status in the party’s caucus at the moment.
“I don’t believe that she has resigned from caucus,” said the minister.
– with files from the Canadian Press