Alberta Politics
Nathan Cooper in campaign mode (Photo: Facebook).

Nathan Cooper chosen as Legislative Speaker – so how about those early mornings?

Posted on May 22, 2019, 2:59 am
6 mins

Now that Nathan Cooper has been chosen as Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, I wonder if the business of the Assembly will be getting under way at a more civilized hour, say 10 a.m., suitable for bankers, gentlemen of leisure, and elected Conservatives?

Mr. Cooper, United Conservative Party MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, was elected yesterday by members of the Legislature to act as the principal chair of Legislative debate and, in effect, as chief executive of the Legislative Assembly.

The NDP candidate for Speaker, MLA Heather Sweet (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

There was no surprise to this. Mr. Cooper, one of the brighter lights in the UCP Caucus, wanted the job, his party won a comfortable majority on April 19, and his selection seemed like a done deal when he wasn’t named to a cabinet post by Premier Jason Kenney.

Nevertheless, the NDP Opposition went through the motions of nominating Edmonton-Manning MLA Heather Sweet for the position. But with that bit of legislative Kabuki theatre out of the way, Mr. Cooper was duly chosen and dragged to the Speaker’s chair, as tradition decrees, by Premier Jason Kenney and Opposition Leader Rachel Notley.

So now we can get back to really important questions like when MLAs will have to get up in the morning in order to be at work on time – especially since the NDP Opposition enjoys a small advantage in this regard, the majority of them having been elected in Edmonton and therefore having a shorter commute until the UCPers can rent apartments in the capital city.

Mr. Cooper’s former caucus mate, the entrepreneurial Derek Fildebrandt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Thanks in part to Mr. Cooper’s advocacy in the embarrassing aftermath of the revelations about his former colleague Derek Fildebrandt’s entrepreneurial activities, they won’t be able to rent out their tax-subsidized Edmonton condominiums through Airbnb when they’re out of town. There’s now a rule about that.

But it was back in 2015 when he was the Wildrose Party’s House Leader that Mr. Cooper got steamed up at the then-new NDP government’s decision to have MLAs start working at the indecent hour of 9 a.m., instead of the more relaxed 10 a.m. associated with former Tory times in Alberta.

The Wildrose Party was so appalled at this outrage they even made an effort to filibuster the change. According to Mr. Cooper back then, asking MLAs to come to work a whole hour earlier, two days a week, was, “basically, a blatant disrespect for the Opposition.”

Mind you, in his defence, he was just going along with the his leader of the day, Brian Jean, who seemed to take the whole matter far more seriously than anyone else in the House, including his own MLAs.

Former Speak Bob Wanner, soon to be seen in oils (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Still, in light of Mr. Kenney’s pre-election vow that this would be the Summer of Repeal (Summer of Revenge, more like — Ed.), one wonders if the miserably early 9 a.m. start might be required for a spell to push through all the legislation the new premier has in mind.

In addition to having been the previous Opposition party’s House Leader, Mr. Cooper was interim leader of the UCP in 2017 before Mr. Kenney won the leadership and eased Mr. Jean into the pages of history.

Before running for office in 2015, Mr. Cooper worked for the Wildrose Caucus as chief of staff and director of legislative affairs.

And before that, he acted for a spell as spokesperson for a group called Canada Family Action, which criticized “homosexual radicals” for “intolerant and ignorant” opposition to so-called conversion therapies, the practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation through psychological or spiritual claptrap.

During Mr. Cooper’s tenure, Canada Family Action also opposed Ontario’s sex education program, since scuttled by Premier Doug Ford, accused the Harper Conservatives in Ottawa of being soft on child porn, and promoted the theory Hollywood was punishing Alberta for its conservative values by deciding to film the 2005 movie Brokeback Mountain in this province.

Mr. Cooper’s predecessor in the Speaker’s chair, New Democrat Bob Wanner, who chose not to seek re-election in April, will presumably now have the opportunity to choose an artist to portray him in oils to be displayed on the wall of the Legislature’s Rotunda.

4 Comments to: Nathan Cooper chosen as Legislative Speaker – so how about those early mornings?

  1. Alex C. Polkovsky

    May 22nd, 2019

    David, I read, “…the opportunity to choose an artist to portray him in oils..” and wondered if the the NDP had even banned OIL painting! All those Alberta hating enviro-hippies and their supposed ways.

    We are expected to be grateful for the return to to the days when dinosaurs walked the earth, listening to disco and not recycling. I for one am willing to welcome our insect overlords! Where was I?

  2. Rocky

    May 22nd, 2019

    Notice the price sticker on the SUV? Is that for the vehicle, or the UCP’s services. No wonder they call it the Used Car Party.

  3. Dave

    May 22nd, 2019

    Yes, if we take Mr. Kenney at his word (a questionable idea, I think) then those early mornings will soon be gone. I know Mr. Kenney made it sound like he would repeal everything the NDP put in place and perhaps he will, but you have to wonder if some things are not worth the time or the bother or just better left as is. I suppose in the end it will depend on how strongly Mr. Kenney feels about early morning starts or if he doesn’t have strong feeling either way, perhaps he will actually defer to the grassroots or his caucus on this one.

    There are a number of risks to just mindlessly repealing everything done in the last four years, it can be time consuming and non productive. It can also take focus and energy from dealing with the problems Alberta faces and will take away an important opportunity for Kenney to define the UCP as being different from the PCs. If they just try to turn the clock back to exactly how it was under the PC’s, the UCP could quickly start to look like a copy of them. Copies are seldom as good as the original and Alberta voters were getting very tired of the PC’s towards the end, so it might be wise not to appear to be too much like them. As Yogi Berra said, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

  4. Murphy

    May 22nd, 2019

    The Premier’s own kin is in on the conversion therapy racket. The cobbler’s family going barefoot, and what have you.

    It’s a massive business in the US, and Calgary’s brightest and shiniest have pushed very hard to develop this potential economic driver in Alberta:
    “Rachel Notley, the NDP MLA from Edmonton-Strathcona, demanded last month
    that the provincial government launch an investigation of the
    controversial Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC). Former AARC
    patients have raised allegations of various abuses within the facility,
    including sexual assault.

    When questioned about AARC by Liberal MLA Harry Chase, government took no
    responsibility for the alleged criminal abuses occurring at the facility,
    despite admission by Health Minister Ron Liepert that the facility
    receives “about $300 000″ of annual provincial funding. CBC News later
    reported that the centre receives $400 000 annually.”

    Fortunately for Albertans, M. Notley got her mind right after a timely intervention, and as in the case of the Royalty Review, she showed broad and rapid adaptability:
    “NDP representative to be contacted by Dwain Lingenfelter who is a AARC alumni parent and running for NDP leader in Saskatchewan – Dwain will be contacting MLA Rachael Notley re: NDP calling for investigation Calgary Herald article – Dwain has informed and updated Nexen re: The Fifth Estate. Rachel Notley, MLA visited AARC on March 12th”

    Thus the Premier’s zeal for an investigation in 2009 turned to this by 2018:
    “Thank you for your email regarding your experience with the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC).

    I am very sorry to hear about your negative experiences with AARC, and that they have sued your partner and others who appeared on CBC’s The Fifth Estate. The Government of Alberta is aware of AARC and its treatment model and shares many of your concerns.

    The lack of regulation for privately funded addiction treatment facilities in Alberta is currently under review by the Minister of Health and her office is working towards the implementation of regulations. Her office would be pleased to keep you apprised of this work.

    In the meantime, Alberta Health is committed to supporting providers and people seeking services with resources on how to select quality and safe treatment. In November 2017 the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, with funding from Alberta Health, developed the Finding Quality Addiction Care Guide.

    Should you or your partner be aware of physical or psychological abuse committed at AARC, I urge you to contact the police.

    Thank you for reaching out to help us understand your concerns with private addiction operators. The Minister of Health will be in touch with updates as regulations are developed.

    Rachel Notley
    Premier of Alberta”


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