Wayne Clark and Scott Ellis are contesting a by-election in the Town of Rimbey on July 9 to replace former Councillor Joe Anglin. Mr. Anglin became the Wildrose MLA for Sundre-Rocky Mountain House-Rimbey after defeating six-term Progressive Conservative MLA Ty Lund in the recent provincial election.
The Office of Speaker Ken Kowalskilaunched 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.