Opinion Column

Notley needs to stop claiming high ground

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

I expected better of Premier Rachel Notley.

Someone who puts herself atop a virtuous pedestal, advocating against and slamming her opponents for mudslinging in politics should make sure she’s clean herself. She continues to make it clear, however, that if she ever truly has taken the high road, she’s gone off course and fallen away from it now.

Personally, I’m not sure she ever has avoided attacking those who disagree with her. In fact, I think she’s quite adept at spinning situations, dishing vitriol and posturing for the sole purpose of putting opponents down - all the while maintaining she’s on higher moral ground than everyone else.

Fun fact: she’s not.

Let’s remember that it was her deputy premier, Sarah Hoffman, who referred to Albertans as “sewer rats.” Let’s not forget that it was Notley herself who called Alberta the “embarrassing cousin that no one wants to talk about,” referred to many as “the anger machine” and “xenophobic” simply for having different viewpoints. This week, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous implied it was unethical to work in the energy sector, and I won’t even get into the spin doctoring that came into play over Bill 24 and portraying those against it as homophobic.

Sure, Notley has taken more than her fair share of insults and attacks - one doesn’t have to look too far through replies to her tweets to find some troll spewing rude names, or making a sexist remark. In 2016 it was reported she’d received more threats of violence than any of her predecessors. That certainly isn’t OK.

One would think, however, that being on the receiving end of such a barrage of negativity would instigate a need for change. Instead, the only change Notley seemingly wants to see is just a shift of that negativity from her towards others, specifically non-NDPers.

There’s nothing wrong with a good slam as long as it isn’t against you, right?

Honestly, that way of thinking is getting old.

I don’t care what party does it - I’m tired of being told that disagreeing with someone on policy and social issues makes me not only a lesser individual, but some sort of barbaric creature fresh out of the stone age. I’m tired of real debate about policy being overshadowed by a new point of attack. Mainly, I’m tired of the hypocrisy of our leaders.

Notley and turncoat MLA Sandra Jansen sure talk a good story about addressing sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. I’d like to admire them for standing above the misguided actions of others, and calling out opposition for attacking instead of acting. I can’t.

While they feed us lines about being better and rising above, they’re throwing the same punches. That isn’t change. It’s just putting on a different pair of the same gloves.

I suppose leading up to a by-election - especially one that hold so much importance to the UCP as Calgary-Lougheed does - it makes sense to resort to attacks in a last ditch effort to tear down opponents and sway votes. The election materials handed out by the NDP were primarily all of the “attack” variety. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to be told why someone is a bad leader - I want to be shown why someone would make a good leader. If Notley wanted to show she - and her candidate - are better, she should quit employing the same mudslinging attacks she claims her opponents use.

Instead, Notley and her party went out of their way to slam UCP House Leader Jason Nixon for his involvement in a sexual harassment case. They attributed it as the cause for his opposition to Bill 30, which will mandate anti-bullying and harassment policies in workplaces.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of the situation - that’s a topic for another day. I’m not going to excuse it, either. But Notley used a case from 2008 that was dealt with to attack not just Nixon, but Jason Kenney, outright saying if she was in his position, she would’ve fired him.

Yet it was her who welcomed Deborah Drever back into the NDP caucus after she posed for a band cover, appearing for an assault scene, among other inappropriate posts.

Nevermind policies or stances on social issues - that’s hypocrisy at its finest.

As for Nixon, he owned firing a woman for complaining about sexual assault nearly a decade ago. He said he regretted his actions and would’ve acted differently now - terminating the client rather than the complainant.

It doesn’t change the past, but I do appreciate that response coming from a politician in the spotlight rather than deflection.

It would be nice to see Notley do the same. 

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