Not any more

Wildrose Alliance says it won’t abide Conservative restriction

In Canada on August 30, 2010 at 19:42

Wildrose Alliance says it won’t abide Conservative restriction

Danielle Smith, leader of the Alberta Wildrose Alliance party, speaks to the media at the Sheraton Suites Hotel in Calgary, Alberta on9 October 19, 2009.

Danielle Smith, leader of the Alberta Wildrose Alliance party, speaks to the media at the Sheraton Suites Hotel in Calgary, Alberta on9 October 19, 2009.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon/Calgary Herald, Stuart Gradon/Calgary Herald

The Wildrose Alliance and Speaker Ken Kowalski are locking horns once more, this time over the use of Danielle Smith’s name in official caucus news releases.

The clerk of the legislature – who reports to the Speaker’s office – sent a letter last week to the Wildrose party caucus, demanding it stop quoting the unelected Smith in news releases sent out by the caucus office, which is funded by taxpayers.

The Speaker’s office believes that quoting Smith crosses the line from caucus matters into those of the party, which shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars for political gain.

Smith said Monday the request is the latest example of Kowalski and the Speaker’s office picking on the surging opposition party. The Wildrose caucus is asking Kowalski to withdraw the request and also requesting a meeting with the Speaker to discuss the matter.

“It is ridiculous,” Smith said Monday. “We’re simply not going to abide by it.”

The four-member Wildrose caucus has already been denied additional legislature funding by a Tory-dominated committee that’s chaired by Kowalski.

Earlier this year, the caucus (three members at the time) was seeking the “Leader’s Office Allowance” – an additional $233,000 in funding – despite party leader Smith not being an elected member of the legislature. The status would have granted the Wildrose extra cash that could be used to fund research and to hire staff.

To nab the funding, the Wildrose called party deputy leader Paul Hinman their “acting leader in all matters in the legislature.” Their plea, however, was rebuffed by the Conservative-led members’ services committee.

Smith said the latest request follows a pattern of Kowalski failing to act in a non-partisan manner, as is demanded in his role as Speaker.

Kowalski wasn’t available for comment on Monday, but a spokeswoman in his office said the Speaker had nothing to do with the letter and that Wildrose must follow the legislature’s long-standing protocols.

“They (Wildrose) have to understand the rules better,” said Bev Alenius in the Speaker’s office.

jfekete@theherald.canwest.com

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