Serious questions about the integrity of the Special Standing Committee on Ethics and Accountability remain after the NDP chair was forced to step down after a vote by committee members, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
The NDP members have used the chair tiebreaking vote to push through numerous and dramatic changes to how elections are conducted in Alberta – changes which favour the NDP - despite unanimous opposition from all opposition members on the committee.
Numerous tiebreaking votes between government and opposition members have been broken by the now former chair, NDP MLA Jessica Littlewood, in favour of the government without explanation, rather than respecting the traditional role of the chair to use a tiebreak to continue debate where possible. The situation was made more complicated when Littlewood attempted to negotiate changes with members of the opposition, in clear breach of the chair’s duty of impartiality.
“The work of this committee is too important to allow the NDP government to use their chair as a lever to vote in favour of the wishes of the government of the day,” Wildrose Shadow Democracy and Accountability Minister Jason Nixon said. “Due to the serious concerns that the Wildrose members of this committee have, we will be sending a letter to the Speaker of the Legislature asking him to investigate the impartiality of committee chairs, and asking for a replacement at the Ethics Committee.”
The work being studied by the committee will set the course for elections and financing rules in Alberta.
“Allegations of the chair of the committee also breaching the confidentiality of both government and opposition members on important matters of debate also warrant further study by the Speaker,” Nixon said. “At the end of the day, Albertans need to have confidence that a Committee Chair is not simply an instrument of the NDP government.”
Raw audio of Jason Nixon's availability can be found here.
Raw audio of Jessica Littlewood's availability can be found here.