ken kowalski’s institutional micro-management.

The Office of Speaker Ken Kowalski launched their latest institutional offensive in their ongoing campaign against Wildrose Alliance. A series of letters from Legislative Clerk David McNeil were sent to the tiny conservative caucus demanding that because their leader is not an MLA, that they immediately stop mentioning her name in their press releases. This kind level micro-management by the Speaker’s Office is unprecedented.

Legislative Financial Services Director Scott Ellis sent letters to Wildrose MLAs demanding that they and their staff avoid political party interests in their caucus activities, effectively asking them to be non-partisan partisans. The following letter and attachments from Mr. Ellis to Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson effectively demands the removal of any mention of the word “Wildrose” from his constituency website:

Memo to Rob Anderson As much as I disagree with their policy and political agenda, I am having a difficult time not having a little sympathy for the Wildrose caucus on this issue. When I worked for the Alberta Liberal Party, I remember the frustration of the communications staff at the Official Opposition caucus when the Speaker’s Office would refuse funding material that was arbitrarily deemed “too red” or that the Leader’s name was displayed “too prominently.”

While the Speaker’s Office has a duty to insure that caucuses are not using the public funds allocated to them in overtly partisan ways, it is painting this gray area black. Legislative politics is inherently partisan to a certain degree, and while I believe the Wildrose MLAs may be edging near the line of inappropriate usage, it is clear that Speaker Kowalski’s Office is continuing to target them for political and, ironically, partisan reasons.

UPDATE: Former Assembly Speakers David Carter and Stan Schumacher have spoken out, saying that they are alarmed by recent rulings from Speaker Kowalski and his office.

13 thoughts on “ken kowalski’s institutional micro-management.

  1. Neal

    Having these decisions made arbitrarily is insane. There should be some fixed guidelines for what is and what isn’t allowed and that should be the end of it. Unless the Speaker receives official and open complaints from other parties/MLAs, why is he even interjecting himself into this?

    Perhaps all parties caucus materials should be stamped accordingly, with something like “this publication was paid for with “X” party’s caucus funding, moneys provided to them by Alberta’s Legislature to spend however “X” sees fit”. Then the public would know a caucus document when they see it, and the voters could decide how appropriate or not a given publication was.

    Reply
  2. brian

    Seems like the speaker is evenly applying the rules to every party. There’s nothing partisan allowed in the house be it PC, Liberal, NDP, Alberta Party, Wildrose, Marxist-Leninist, anything. The Wildrose do not deserve any special treatment.

    Reply
  3. Sam

    The Legislative Assembly, i.e. the Speaker and his “tools” like McNeil and Ellis do NOT apply the rules evenly or fairly at all. Tory MLAs get away with murder while the Opposition is constantly kept under the microscope. I don’t think the Alliance deserves any special consideration. I do think however the Tories are the ones who need to be reined in.

    Reply
  4. CfSR

    Sam’s right.

    But it predates Kowalski as Speaker. I certainly remember Liberal MLAs and staff grumbling about Speaker Carter and his non-partisan staff.

    I have no sympathy for the Alliance as a party or potential government, but the use of rules-based non-partisanship to hinder what is essentially a political process – and to protect the government – suggests that the Tories are feeling some heat.

    Reply
  5. Wayne

    Nice to see thst Ken supports free speech as much as his backward party does. What the hell do they think they’re doing? Do they honestly think that Albertans will not notice that their acting like communists? Take a freakin pill Kowalski you moron, resign all of you, take that no account boss of yours with you as well, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out either.

    Reply
  6. Good 'Ol Reformer

    Remember when Kowalski himself sent out invitations to his own PC constituency association golf fundraiser using mailing lists available to him as Speaker?

    Remember when he listed his constituency office address as the place to which people should send their cheques?

    Reply
  7. Jerry Toews

    It is astounding what Ken Kowalski gets away with under the guise of so-called non-partisanship. This move is just the tip of the iceberg in a litany of decisions that have biased the Progressive Conservative cause. But because the goings-on of the Legislature are a mystery to most, his antics go largely unnoticed.

    I challenge folks to find a single ruling of the Speaker that isn’t favourable, or at least neutral, to the Conservative Party. Or time out the length of time given to the Premier in response to questions from Opposition Leaders in Question Period (rules say they’re supposed to be the same length of time).

    I was shocked during my time working at the Leg how he is able to abuse his power and with the blatant bias he operates under. Speakers in other jurisdictions take pains to explain their decisions based on the rules and precedent, while Kowalski seemingly flies by the seat of his pants, with a frustratingly paternalistic smirk on his face as he does the Conservative Party’s bidding.

    So frustrating to watch, but only possible to change if we as Albertans stop giving these jokers a whopping majority time after time.

    Something that this particular Speaker will do everything in his power to prevent.

    Reply
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