Alberta legislative spat over intimidation ends with apology from government house leader

A legislature scuffle involving expletives and alleged threats was resolved Monday when the remarks from Alberta government House leader Jason Nixon were withdrawn.

Independent MLA Todd Loewen had asked legislature Speaker Nathan Cooper last week to sanction Nixon over a tense exchange that took place last month.

On March 31, Loewen, who was booted out of the United Conservative Party caucus last year, tabled documents in the legislature he claimed would prove government members were telling mistruths about him.

In response, Nixon said to the Speaker, “The guy just called me an f—ing liar in the middle of the damn legislature.”

Nixon also said he’d introduce a motion to change the rules of the legislature to prevent MLAs from tabling documents to score political points against their opponents, an idea Loewen called troubling and the Opposition NDP characterized as “chilling.”

Following a two-week break in the legislative sitting, Loewen asked the Speaker to censure the government house leader. He raised a point of privilege, alleging Nixon had tried to intimidate him to be silent.

On Monday, when Cooper was expected to rule on whether Nixon had broken the rules, a statement from Nixon was read by deputy government House leader Joseph Schow.

Schow said Nixon hadn’t intended to offend anyone by threatening to stop MLAs from entering documents into the legislative record.

“On behalf of the government house leader, I happily withdraw any remarks that occurred during that exchange in the point of order on March 31, 2022, that may have caused the offence,” Schow said.

Nixon did not appear in the legislative chamber during the exchange on Monday. Cooper said it was “unique” that Nixon had asked a colleague to read a statement for him when dealing with such a serious matter.

Nixon’s press secretary, Paul Hamnett, said Nixon was “attending to an urgent government matter outside of Edmonton” and noted that MLAs frequently speak for each other in the house.

Nixon had previously withdrawn his comments containing expletives and apologized for using Loewen’s name inside the legislature, which is against the rules.

Cooper said the matter is now closed.

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