Politics is a blood sport. But it’s also a team sport.
These are messages that now former NDP MLA Robyn Luff seems to have missed.
Luff, who was bounced from caucus late Monday after publicly stating she would refuse to sit in the house over a number of beefs, offered some more detail Tuesday about why she was bristling under the NDP banner.
She said bullying and abusive behaviour were stifling her.
She says that questions on issues important to her constituents were not allowed to be asked because they weren’t the priority.
She said that MLAs were forbidden from being seen with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh when he was in Edmonton, or talking with the media about floor-crosser Karen McPherson, who jumped from the Dippers to the Alberta Party.
There are some legitimate issues that Luff raised in her lengthy Facebook post.
Claims of abusive behaviour and bullying — which Luff says are more widespread but are kept hidden under a veil of fear — are troubling and should be addressed. As should the allegation that NDP MLAs were told to keep quiet about “information on opposition members who had behaved inappropriately towards women.”
But many of the items Luff talked about are part of our modern politics.
People may have assumed that the touchy-feely NDP were somehow going to be different than the uncaring PC dynasty. But they were delusional.
The NDP may be different than conservatives policy-wise, but they are just as much a partisan, win-at-all-costs political entity.
And that includes, for better or worse, things like message discipline, and caucus solidarity and whipped votes.
You don’t bring in a longtime political operative like Brian Topp to help sail the ship if the goal is to hang out and sing sea shanties.
MLAs, to a certain degree, are told to toe the line. Don’t like it? Too bad.
People have been watching the conservative parties for years for possible ‘bozo eruptions.’ It would have been naive to think parties on the left don’t employ similar pressure on candidates or MLAs
Should we be having a discussion about how the system operates and whether backbenchers have the power to properly represent their constituents?
Perhaps, and maybe the Luff kerfuffle gives us cause to do that.
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