Boutilier Gets The Boot
Alberta's Tory caucus is one man smaller after Ed Stelmach's booting of Guy Boutilier over the weekend:
Premier Ed Stelmach is suddenly doing politics on steroids. Against a flood of public anger, and to the shock of some Tory MLAs, he kicked out a veteran Conservative for challenging him to keep a promise.
It was unilaterally done by Ed and Ed alone. There wasn't even an official statement from his office Saturday, just a blanket e-mail to Tory caucus members.
Many of those MLAs were overheating their BlackBerrys on Saturday. Stelmach's ruling goes to the heart of their dilemma --do they represent their constituents to the government, or act as the government's mouthpiece to the constituents?
Fort McMurray's Guy Boutilier chose to speak for his city by urging immediate construction of a deferred care centre. Along the way, he said Health Minister Ron Liepert is "talking gibberish."
Now, I've always been fairly supportive of the leader kicking out MPs/MLAs for disent - that's just the way our parliamentary system works. But this one is just weird. Consider:
1. Boutilier isn't some obscure back bencher. He's been a PC MLA for 12 years and served in both the Klein and Stelmach Cabinets.
2. This is very out of character for Stelmach. In a 2007 by election the PC candidate said he wanted to "choke Ed Stelmach" and Stelmach said he welcomed that kind of enthusiasm.
3. As far as criticism goes, this is fairly mild. It's not like Boutilier voted against the government. He certainly deserved to be taken out to the wood shed, but kicking him out of caucus isn't really a proportional response?
4. Fort Mac is a former Liberal riding, and probably one Boutilier would stand a chance of holding if he switched to the Liberals, Wildrose Alliance, or ran as an independent. I know, I know, that sort of math doesn't really come into the game when you don't have to worry about losing power, but still.
5. Guy isn't taking this very well and neither is his riding association.
So a small headache may just have become a bigger one for Stelmach.
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