Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley not ready to apologize for remarks that got her kicked out of legislature

Opposition leader Rachel Notley is still refusing to apologize for remarks that got her kicked out of the Alberta legislature Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday after addressing a rally of nurses on the legislature’s steps, Notley said she and her NDP colleagues are busy working on “other strategies” to stop the contentious Bill 22.

“Obviously I want to get back fairly soon — I’m the leader of the Official Opposition and I need to be in there,” Notley said.

“But we are really at this point looking at extra-legislative strategies right now to try and stop this bill from passing, which [the UCP government wants] to do on Thursday.”

Notley was ordered to leave the legislative assembly Tuesday after she refused to apologize for saying United Conservative Party House leader Jason Nixon was offering “misleading” statements about a bill to fire election commissioner Lorne Gibson.

On Wednesday morning, following a nurses rally at the Legislature, Notley accused Nixon of “lying.”

Gibson is investigating the 2017 race for the UCP, won by Premier Jason Kenney.

Bill 22 says the person holding the position of election commissioner will be terminated when the bill becomes law, though the chief electoral officer could hire them back.

Notley said no prime minister or premier has ever interfered with “a quasi-judicial investigation about matters that impact their interests” the way Kenney has with Bill 22.

“And as I say, it’s a historic abuse of power and a direct attack on the principles of our democracy, and a direct attack on anybody who would stand up and speak against this government, so we are going to work very hard to see what other things we can do,” Notley said.

She sent a letter on Tuesday to Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell urging her to take action on the bill Notley called a “misuse of the authority of the legislature” and “a threat to our democratic institutions” — particularly since the government has moved to limit time for debate.

The NDP is also looking at what legal steps can be taken to stop the government from firing Gibson.

NDP MLA Shannon Phillips, who chairs the legislature’s public accounts committee, said the committee won’t meet until it hears from Gibson about how he has spent public funds.

“Jason Kenney is doing everything he can to obstruct these investigations and we as Opposition will do everything we can to find out why, and to hear from Lorne Gibson directly,” Phillips told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

“I am comfortable using every legislative opposition tool that we have — this is the only committee that we chair — to get to the bottom of this, to scrutinize the work of the election commissioner, to find out why he is being fired, and to stop Jason Kenney’s obstruction of justice.”

Phillips said she wants to find out how the investigations would continue without Gibson in the job.

“The government has claimed that those investigations will continue,” she said. “I do not believe them, because I believe almost nothing that they say. I believe that this is an attempt to stop those investigations, to obstruct justice and to continue with corruption.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of nurses rallied at the legislature, voicing opposition to a range of government policies on bargaining rights, wage rollbacks and other issues.