Alberta’s historic Legislature Building in Edmonton as climate protesters gathered last Friday (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Who knew? It turns out anyone can stick up anything they like in the windows of the stately and historic Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton and they won’t be breaking any rules.

This even includes Matt Wolf, Jason Kenney’s personal twitter troll, formally known as the Alberta premier’s director of issues management, who during last Friday’s climate action protest could be seen peering past an I-[HEART]-[MAPLE LEAF]-Oil+Gas sign at the 4,000-plus mostly youthful demonstrators below.

Matt Wolf, Jason Kenney’s personal twitter troll, along with one of his fans, peers out of the Legislature Building last Friday (Photo: Twitter).

The explanation: There are no rules.

This must make the granite and sandstone Beaux Arts pile overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley, completed in 1913 at the then substantial cost of $2 million, unusual and possibly unique among major public buildings just about anywhere.

I imagine it would make the three architects who had a hand in its design — Allan Merrick Jeffers, Richard Blakey, and Percy Nobbs — spin like tops in their crypts if they knew!

But there it is. I have this on very good authority. Lianne Bell, chief of staff to Speaker Nathan Cooper, responded to my query about the rules for signage informatively and succinctly yesterday: “There are no rules or guidelines around signage in windows of the Legislative Building.”

End of story? Probably not.

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley at last night’s NDP pre-budget town hall in St. Albert (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, at a pre-budget town hall in St. Albert last night, observed that “there were four thousand people who were talking about the future of our planet out there and all our leadership could do was put up signs trolling them from the safety of the inside of the cabinet room!”

“Frankly, I think you should go out and talk to protesters,” she said, recalling the days when she was premier and her NDP government’s farm-safety legislation was unpopular with many farmers. “We had 1,000 people protesting when we introduced legislation to protect farm workers, and our ministers and MLAs went out and spoke to people.”

Alberta Speaker Nathan Cooper (Photo: David J.Climenhaga).

She noted that she couldn’t recall a similar example of political staff or politicians posting signs in the more than a decade she’s been a member of the Legislature, and dismissed the absence of any UCP ministers or MLAs in the crowd as cowardice.

Ms. Notley is certainly right that sophomoric displays of partisan signs in the building are highly unusual, and nothing much controversial in this vein seems to have happened since interlopers unknown lowered a Bolshevik banner from the Press Gallery of the Legislative Chamber onto the Speaker’s throne in the 1920s.

Of course, the Legislature is pretty much the fiefdom of the Speaker, so Mr. Cooper can make any rule he likes if he perceives that MLAs or their staffers are starting to go bolshie.

And with friends like Mr. Wolf in the building, that might not be a bad idea. As soon as word there are no rules starts to get around — sorry about that, mea maxima culpa — it wouldn’t be surprising if the premiers’ boys in short pants start carving their initials in the sandstone.

Notley on that Ambassadorial rumour: ‘I’m staying on until the next election’

In the foreground, the Canadian Embassy in Washington (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

While Ms. Notley was in St. Albert, I took the opportunity to ask her about Mr. Wolf’s pre-federal-election creative writing on Twitter to the effect a re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will name her ambassador to Washington.

While many of us might think Ms. Notley would do a fine job for Canada in such a role, it’s just not on, she assured me. “I’ve been very clear. I’m staying on until the next election.

“That’s what I said election night, that’s what I’ve been saying to everybody since. I’m flattered that the UCP wants me to go so much, but unfortunately for them it’s my plan to stay around and stand up for Albertans.”

It’s interesting, she added, that the premier’s issues management guy — salary, $194,253 per annum; Twitter followers, 1,222 — “is so worried about my future that he’s actually dedicating time to trying to create groundless rumours.”

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  1. It’s unfortunate that some of the grown ups inside the building did not set a better example for the young people outside. However, I guess there is a reason they call them the boys in the short pants and it has something to do with exactly this sort of childish behavior by people old enough to know better, but drunk on their own self perceived power.

    Its also not surprising they hunkered down inside and did not bother to go talk to the young people there. After all, Alberta’s Conservative government did not make such a big pretence about being “for the people” as its Ontario PC cousins did. It’s not surprising as one of the first promises Mr. Kenney broke was his own grassroots guarantee and UCP came to be called the used car party, a party more attuned to business and industry association interests than anything else.

    Unfortunately their arrogance and contempt for differing views was clearly on display in the windows of the Legislature that day. I suspect Mr. Kenney realizes to some extent the importance of image even if his adolescent acting aides do not. He might want to get the Speaker to talk to them and set some rules, before they become more embarassing to the province.

  2. Cowardice it is. And a fair dollop of ignorance.

    It’s become more than a little obvious that those on the right, who in Canada call themselves conservatives, are simply lacking knowledge of the Canadian political system or of any other functioning political system extant. They are curiously, for such public figures, unaware and unlearned of such basic national economic policies such as trade, employment, taxation or budgeting. Also, as Notley pointed out, they are pathologically afraid of public scrutiny.

    These people, for reasons of their own, are working for some other master than the public. From Trump to Scheer, Ford and Kenney they all are demonstrably more than a little willing to screw over the country and citizenry for a class of people comprising less than 1% of the population. They are nothing more than paid mercenaries.

    We would all do well to remember, and review, events in Europe during the 1930’s.

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