United Conservative MLAs were forbidden from speaking about a government bill that established protest-free zones around abortion clinics, says a former UCP MLA.
Prab Gill, Independent member for Calgary-Greenway, says he was whipped into toeing the party line during Bill 9 debate.
“I was not free to speak out about it or even vote to represent my constituents on the bill. Independent thought was not welcome,” he said in question period Thursday.
Gill spoke up in the wake of accusations by former New Democrat MLA for Calgary-East, Robyn Luff, who left the house to protest what she says is top-down control of the NDP caucus by party brass.
Standing in the house, Gill declared “rot is firmly entrenched in both establishment parties and … when I was in the Tory caucus I, too, was silenced and whipped.”
“Is it the government’s policy to control independent thought, just as the Tories do?” Gill asked.
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, NDP house leader Brian Mason replied, “I’m very shocked to hear that, quite frankly.”
“It confirms what I believed about our friends in the official Opposition,” Mason added, calling his own caucus the “finest” ever, to cheers and desk-thumping by the NDP.
Gill wasn’t available for an interview Thursday after question period, but UCP house leader Jason Nixon called his former colleague’s comments a case of “sour grapes.”
“It’s a ridiculous assertion,” Nixon told Postmedia Thursday afternoon.
Gill was deputy whip at the time, Nixon said, and the caucus unanimously decided on its Bill 9 strategy — which was to refuse to speak about the legislation and leave the house for every single related vote.
“Nobody spoke against that strategy,” Nixon said, including Gill.
Gill was turfed from the UCP caucus earlier this year over allegations of ballot-stuffing at his constituency association AGM.
Source:: Edmonton Journal – Politics