Estranged Alberta NDP backbencher to quit politics after next election

Estranged Alberta NDP backbencher to quit politics after next election

EDMONTON — Estranged Alberta NDP backbencher Robyn Luff says she won’t run in the spring election and won’t be crossing the floor to join another party in the meantime.

And Luff said a decision by the NDP caucus to kick her out validates her earlier accusations of a “culture of bullying” in Premier Rachel Notley’s government.

“The greatest blow of all is to be told that my fellow NDP colleagues have voted me out, and they are all complicit, every one of them,” Luff said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The first-term member for Calgary-East could not be reached for comment.

The government caucus voted to expel Luff at a meeting late Monday night, issuing a written statement that included the parting indignity of misspelling her first name as Robin.

“We had conversations about the allegations that she made,” Graham Sucha, a Calgary NDP backbencher, said Tuesday. “(We) recognized in a consensus that they were unfounded, and we didn’t like the path that she took to try to address this.

“We made the decision that she had lost confidence from us and she should be removed from caucus.”

Luff was expelled hours after she announced she would not sit in the house until Notley addressed what Luff called a culture of message control that is so domineering and pervasive, backbenchers can’t do their job representing the concerns of constituents.

Notley’s team dictates to backbenchers what they can say in the house, what questions to ask in committee, what issues to comment on publicly, and who they can be photographed with, she said.

There was speculation Luff might join Calgary legislature member Karen McPherson who quit Notley’s caucus last year and now sits with the Alberta Party. But Luff said she is leaving politics after the spring election to focus on her family.

“I will not be joining any other party in the legislature,” wrote Luff. “That was never my plan and never an option.

“I will not be running in next year’s election. My children have made it abundantly clear that they would prefer to have more of my attention, and I intend to honour that.”

Luff has launched a litany of allegations against Notley and her senior officials.

She said member statements made in the house are vetted and edited, the party leadership decides who speaks on which bill, and statements and questions at committee hearings are all scripted.

Caucus members were directed not to contact McPherson after she left and were not to be photographed with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Luff said in her statement Tuesday. Singh and Notley have been publicly feuding over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

“We were told that if we had any information on opposition members who had behaved inappropriately towards women that it was best not to go public with it because our party wasn’t completely without fault on the matter,” she added without elaborating.

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