November 25th, 2020

Barnes backs NDP motion after UCP rejects debate on bill likely aimed at Barnes

By COLLIN GALLANT on November 4, 2020.

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes speaks at a town hall on Thursday Nov. 7, 2019. -- FILE PHOTO

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Area MLA Drew Barnes spoke out against his own party’s move to quash a debate on Western Separation pushed by the NDP and largely thought to target him.

The issue involves a vote Monday by the United Conservative majority to push a private member’s motion far down the schedule.

On Tuesday, when the NDP called the move out of order, Barnes backed their position.

“Private members’ business is too important and too limited to be interfered with,” he said in the legislature.

“We don’t have a lot of opportunity for this … in nine years I’ve had one private members bill and one motion – two opportunities to stand and present what’s crucial to the people of Cypress-Medicine Hat.

“What happened yesterday interfered with one of my colleague’s – one of 87 of us (MLAs) – opportunity to do that.”

On Monday, a private member’s motion by NDP MLA Rod Loyola called for the legislature to affirm its commitment to confederation and “unequivocally denounce” calls for independence.

Barnes has been vocal about his opinion that Alberta should adopt a stronger stance, potentially including separation, as the province attempts to rework its relationship with Ottawa.

This summer he penned an alternate and critical opinion of the recommendations from the Fair Deal Panel, which he sat on.

That has brought heaps of criticism from NDP Leader Rachel Notley and others for Barnes and also Premier Jason Kenney.

Notley told the News last week that the premier should be able to control talk of separation in his own party.

Barnes’ speech in the legislature on Tuesday earned an ovation from the NDP opposition members present.

NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley called it a “courageous,” “passionate” act that defended the rights of legislators.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon spoke against the point, saying the issue falls under normal procedures of the house.

A ruling was not expected on Tuesday, while the legislature was expected to sit into the evening.

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