A guide to the showdown between Jason Kenney and Rachel Notley
TORONTO -- A deep-seated battle between Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and NDP Leader Rachel Notley reached new heights Tuesday after Notley was kicked out of the legislature, in part for accusing Kenney’s party of obstruction of justice.
The showdown between Kenney and Notley has been festering for months thanks to a spreading scandal over Alberta’s 2017 United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race.
As tensions risein the province, here is a guide to the drama that’s capturing national interest.
What’s the controversy?
Notley was removed from the legislature Tuesday for refusing to apologize for comments she made about Bill 22, including accusing the provincial government of obstruction of justice.
The legislation was introduced by the UCP to eliminate the standalone elections commissioner’s office.
If passed, that legislation would include the termination of Alberta Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson’s contract.
For months, Gibson has been investigating allegations of illegal donations in the 2017 UCP leadership race, which saw Kenney take the helm of the party. The UCP would eventually go on to win a majority government during the April provincial election.
How did it start?
It’s been alleged that Jeff Callaway was a "puppet" candidate during the UCP leadership race, only in the contest to discredit and attack Kenney's rival Brian Jean. Kenney has denied all the allegations.
Leaked emails between the campaign co-manager for Callaway and a senior Kenney team member, sent in 2017, suggest the two men were part of a co-ordinated effort to undermine Jean’s campaign.
Callaway later dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Kenney.
Both the staffers involved, Callaway, and Kenney have denied the allegations.
Allegations have also been raised that email addresses were fraudulently attached to party memberships to cast ballots. More than $200,000 in fines have been laid against several people connected to the party for improper contributions connected to the leadership race.
Bill 22 passed its first reading on Monday. It would need to pass a second and third reading before being sent for royal assent and made into law.
Prior to question period Tuesday, the NDP announced that Notley had sent a letter to Alberta Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell asking her to refuse to give the bill royal assent if it passes in the legislature.
“That bill is in the legislature, it has been tabled. For the house leader to get up and say the bill doesn’t fire the commissioner is ridiculous. It shows the continued disrespect for the truth the house and democracy that is demonstrated every day by the UPC and particularly Jason Kenney and Jason Nixon,” Notley said speaking to reporters after being removed from the assembly.
“I’m deeply troubled by this. There has never been an abuse of power like this in Alberta or in the country.”
Notley also addressed the situation in an interview on CTV’s Power Play on Tuesday afternoon.
“Could you imagine if Justin Trudeau had fired the Ethics Commissioner in the middle of the SNC investigation? This is what this is akin to but somehow Jason Kenney thinks he is above the law.”
- With files from the Canadian Press and CTV Edmonton