EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s office says two members of her NDP caucus have been accused of inappropriate behaviour since 2015.
Cheryl Oates, Notley’s spokeswoman, said in a statement that “in both circumstances, the alleged behaviour took place outside the workplace.”
“Confidential independent investigations were undertaken in each case resulting in recommendations that were implemented,” she wrote Thursday. “In order to respect the privacy of the complainants, further details will remain confidential.” Oates said in neither case was criminal conduct alleged.
The statement came after Notley was questioned about allegations made by former NDP backbencher Robyn Luff.
Luff was kicked out of caucus this week after she announced she was boycotting the legislature to protest what she called heavy-handed control of backbench legislature members by senior officials in Notley’s caucus and government.
Luff said, at one point, backbenchers “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.”
Notley said nobody that reports to her or senior caucus leaders delivered such a directive.
“Are there any allegations or incidents of inappropriate behaviour towards women among your MLAs or among the Alberta NDP?” Notley was asked. “Not that I’m aware of,” she replied. “And, more importantly, we have a policy in our caucus around sexual harassment, both in terms of how to respond to concerns that are raised, as well as speaking often and having a code of conduct with respect to both our MLAs and our staff around these issues.”
Oates later said Notley believed the reporter’s question related to inappropriate conduct strictly within and among NDP caucus and staff.
The two complaints were made by outside people and did not occur in the workplace.
Notley dismissed other allegations made by Luff, a first-term legislature member for Calgary East, who said the gag order prevented backbenchers from representing their constituents.
Luff’s wishes don’t mesh with the concept that politicians need to work together to get things done, Notley said.
“We understand that that member (Luff) is not a fan of the parliamentary system and would like to have complete independence in all that she does, but that’s not the way the system works,” said Notley. “Within the parliamentary system, politics is a bit of a team sport, and it’s people coming together and working together under a collective set of principles and plans.”
Luff could not be reached for comment.
She has already said she won’t cross the floor to join another party, won’t run in the spring election, and is checking with constituents to determine whether to end her boycott of the house.
Luff is the second member to break ranks with the governing caucus.
Last year, Calgary backbencher Karen McPherson crossed the floor and now sits with the Alberta Party. She said this week that the concerns outlined by Luff mirror her experiences, which caused her to leave.