Ric McIver’s tantrum and return to the House explained: In Alberta, being a Tory means never having to say you’re sorry!

Posted on April 20, 2016, 1:06 am
10 mins

PHOTOS: Interim Tory Leader Ric McIver, mid tantrum, tells Alberta Speaker Bob Wanner he’s not sitting down until he gets his way! Below: Mr. Wanner, looking appropriately annoyed; the notorious Dr. Benjamin Spock; and an advertisement for Brylcreem, just one of the many terrible things North American liberals keep having to answer for. Bottom: My overused snapshot of departing Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger, who really ought to have allowed his caucus to replace him with someone else.

Being an Alberta Tory, apparently, still means never having to say you’re sorry!

Leastways, Ric McIver was allowed back into the Legislature yesterday by Speaker Bob Wanner, who had tossed him out of the House the day before after the interim Progressive Conservative leader indulged in a very public temper tantrum that included repeatedly refusing to sit down when the Speaker told him to.

WannerIn the same circumstances, I suspect, most of us would have glared at Mr. Wanner and done as instructed slowly enough to let him know we weren’t very happy about it, those being the rules of the Legislature and everything.

Not Mr. McIver. But by then he was in full flight, so he engaged in what the professional news reporters in attendance redundantly termed “yelling and shouting” and refused to sit down until the Speaker had the Sergeant at Arms give him the bum’s rush.

There was a real issue at the heart of this argument, by the way, although it’s been rather lost in the folderol. To wit, whether Mr. Wanner made a decision in favour of an NDP MLA who wanted to amend Mr. McIver’s controversial motion supporting public funds for private and charter schools before he had heard Opposition arguments against it.

This appears to me not to have been the case, but I have no doubt Mr. McIver sincerely believed it was so when his hissy fit began to gather steam.

Regardless, Mr. Wanner – who for lack of a better layperson’s explanation is the chairperson of the Assembly – has allowed Mr. McIver back, even though the Tory Party Leader has refused to apologize for his outburst as required by Parliamentary practice.

Instead, Mr. McIver conceded, barely, that he understands the Speaker has the authority to tell an MLA to sit down and be quiet while order is restored, but stated three times he is “not apologizing” about refusing to do so. I wasn’t there, so I can’t honestly tell you he mumbled and scuffed his shoes in the dust as he was saying this, but that sounds about right.

SpockMr. Wanner – who seems like a sensible enough fellow – presumably decided the harm to the Legislature would be more serious from allowing this foolishness to continue than from permitting Mr. McIver to bend the rules to save his pride.

Making legislators look like morons, after all, is a well-known part of the conservative vote-suppression playbook, although I very much doubt that was what motivated Mr. McIver, who has his flaws as well all do, but has never struck me as a sneak.

So what did make him so mad? There was a day which this would have been laid at the feet of Dr. Spock – Dr. Benjamin Spock for those of you too young to remember when a significant number of people sincerely believed the author of the Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care was leading the Baby Boom generation down the garden path to destruction.

Mr. McIver, after all, was born right in the middle of that particular handbasket-trip to Hell, on Aug. 28, 1958, so even now it’s tempting to imagine there might be something to that theory, which went like this: Instead of teaching their kiddies to respect authority and sit quietly when they were told to, backed up with a good spanking as required, indulgent post-war parents took the notorious liberal doctor’s advice and taught their children they were the centre of the universe.

This way, all of society’s ills – including ducktails and Brylcreem™, which I admit are really bad – could be blamed on liberals, something North American conservatives continue to do to this very day.

brylcreemNow that the Boomers have been around for quite a long time – too long, I am sure some would say – this is a very tempting explanation for an old white man having a televised tantrum in a public place.

However, myself being a Boomer raised on Dr. Spock’s indulgent theories, I have a different, I believe more credible, explanation. Quite simply, it’s that after nigh on 80 years in which they got to run this particular Legislature according to their whims, Alberta conservatives are having a lot of trouble adjusting to the reality they’re not in charge just now and the rules apparently apply to everyone, not just people who disagree with them.

That’s got to be a rough transition. It may explain why Mr. McIver told the Speaker on Monday: “I will not sit down unless you reverse the ruling that you made!” To his credit, I suppose, Mr. McIver didn’t threaten to hold his breath until he turned Tory blue.

Self-centredly Boomerish though it may seem, it’s from that uniquely Albertan conservative perspective that refusing to recognize the chairman of a meeting is the boss of you until adjournment may seem like rational behaviour to a grownup, as it apparently still does to Mr. McIver.

Other conservatives of various stripes are rumbling about how “concerning” they find this imbroglio. They are forgetting that PC speakers have been tossing Opposition MLAs out of the House since time immemorial.

Final conclusions? Only two:

  1. We must thank God in Her infinite mercy the rules don’t yet allow open carry in the Alberta Legislature! Our various unevolved species of conservative are undoubtedly working on changing that, however.
  2. Speaking of the Deity, all of us, but conservatives in particular, need to remember the words of the Good Book: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,” which, you can take it from me, is OK to abbreviate to, “Pride goeth before a fall.”

Thus endeth the lesson.

PCs decisively defeat Manitoba’s long-in-the-tooth New Democrats

Selinger_1I understand we have a result in the Manitoba election and that, after a good run of 16 years, that province’s NDP has been decisively defeated by that province’s Progressive Conservatives.

Congratulations to the PCs’ Brian Pallister for what seems from this distance to have been a good campaign, and so long to NDP Premier Greg Selinger, who by the sound of it was the author of many of his own and his party’s difficulties.

I cannot claim to know much about Manitoba politics, so I will refrain from drawing too many conclusions about this result. Those of us who support the Alberta NDP will now have to endure a few hours of our Facebook buddies on the right crowing about how this means our local Dippers are certainly doomed come 2019.

This is, of course, a conclusion that can’t be supported based on the vote in Manitoba, but we should allow them their enjoyment with good grace. After all, we will be spouting exactly the same kind of nonsense on May 9 next year, when John Horgan’s New Democrats replace Christy Clark’s conservative Liberals in British Columbia. Just sayin’.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

12 Comments to: Ric McIver’s tantrum and return to the House explained: In Alberta, being a Tory means never having to say you’re sorry!

  1. Jpk

    April 20th, 2016

    Dave, I expect you to bring a slant to your comments (, that why I follow you ). but to take a cheap shot at conservative entitlement over an important issue like manipulating a private members bill to change its intent is clouding an important issue that should be debated

    Reply
  2. Art

    April 20th, 2016

    How many times did we have to stew about Zwozdeski rulings while the right told us we had no choice to accept them.

    Looks good on em.

    Reply
    • Chris

      April 23rd, 2016

      I see the tradition of pliant speakers blindly supporting their government friends has survived Alberta’s 2015 regime change.

      The least Speaker Wanner could do was to not put in writing his pre-ordained, Premier’s-Office-scripted “ruling.”

      Reply
  3. Sandra (Alex) MacRae

    April 20th, 2016

    I don’t know about Christy Clark being replaced by the NDP. The NDP had it to lose last time around and they did indeed, lose. Unless the NDP smartens up with their campaign messaging it will be another round of Christy Clark for BC. My God man look at how the federal NDP did. Seems to me that the NDP are afraid to be left of center. If we look south of the border at the momentum Bernie Sanders campaign is getting and the impact of social media along with the message he is putting out there it seems to me there is a huge lesson to be learned in that campaign. In Canada/BC I think the NDP is as owned as the BC Liberals are.

    Reply
    • political ranger

      April 20th, 2016

      I think you (both) are on to something here. Something our (usually) clear-headed and always gracious host and the rest of the NDP flock are unwilling to address.
      We, and I’m proud to say I’m part of that, elected the Notley gov’t because they were going to do something different AND they were not going to do the same BS as the other choices. We liked those promises. They won and so did we, we thought.
      Now that the NDP is in power they will have to have the courage of their convictions. There is no substitute for personal integrity and courage. No polls. No chicken dinner speeches. No editorial guidance. No popularity contests. You just have to take a deep breath and step out. Do what you say you were going to do.
      We elected them to do those things no one else was going to do. If they’re not going to do it, then why would we (I) vote for them again? The right-wing loony tunes will never vote for them under any circumstances. The NDP has only one chance to be re-elected; by doing what they said they would do.
      It won’t guarantee re-election. But if they don’t it will guarantee defeat in 2019. Or before

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      April 20th, 2016

      Yeah, but to be fair, the whole Bernie thing in the U.S. is that our American cousins have NEVER had anyone as progressive as even Canadian Liberals (to say nothing of the NDP). In short, I don’t think the Americans have anything to teach us about being progressive.

      Reply
      • Alex m

        April 21st, 2016

        I believe they do have something to show us. That using social media to engage youth is extremely effect at engaging young voters. Social media covers event mainstream I dia does not. That you can be left of center and win. That being authentic wins votes. We have seen We have seen the provincial NDP in BC lose an election they had in the bag and we’ve seen the federal NDP lose an election they looked like they had in the bag I think that when the left tries to look Center or moderate right you lose your constituency and we’ve seen that twice I think that what’s happening in the US with the numbers of people and Independents that are supporting Bernie is a clear indication of what a difference integrity and decency make in an election I think far too many people have a strong nose for BS and aren’t going to be taken in we hope anymore

        Reply
  4. Colleen Chapman

    April 20th, 2016

    Please read Dr. Spock before defining him. He never said not to discipline children. He said hitting anyone is wrong. Although I left Question Period yesterday thinking Mr. Jean and his gang of bullies needed a spanking. At least verbally.

    Reply
  5. David

    April 20th, 2016

    Before the Alberta PC’s become too gleeful about the recent Manitoba election results, they should consider it could be interpreted slightly differently. Another plausible interpretation of the result is that provincial voters will replace the NDP after 17 years in power (the Manitoba NDP was in power since 1999) – so the Alberta PC’s may have some time to wait.

    Reply
  6. Gail

    April 20th, 2016

    The Manitoba NDP lost because they increased the sales tax and alienated all the non-urban vote with the Bipole II project (that might some familiar to some Alberta Conservatives who lost to the Wildrose).

    We can only hope the BC NDP doesn’t have the same advisors as last time when they so ably snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Reply
    • FarmerB

      April 21st, 2016

      Wasn’t Brian Topp the campaign manager for the BC NDP during the 2013 election? He is now our Premier’s chief of staff, do you think he learned anything in 2013?

      Reply
      • Chris

        April 23rd, 2016

        And our Premier’s Deputy Chief-of-Staff is Anne McGrath. She was the campaign chair for the federal NDP in the fall election of 2015. Maybe she has learned something. I don’t see how Brian could. He is too busy flying back to his Toronto home every weekend. Maybe he does a lot of reading on the plane.

        Reply

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