Day 3 of the Legislature

It was not a day for the ages in the Alberta legislature on Wednesday. Lots of questions about health care, emergency services, ducks, etc., and lots of platitudes and uninspiring answers. Still, it had its moments.

George Rogers, the PC member from Leduc, entered the Puffball Pitcher of the Session contest by asking this set up question of Failing Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky:

“Mr. Rogers: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the Auditor General released his fall report. This report outlines several accounting and financial management issues related to the formation of Alberta Health Services. These questions raised by the Auditor General are very serious and, I believe, beg some clarification. My question is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. What is the cause of these financial issues? Has this money been properly accounted for?”

After Zwozdesky’s typically long-winded answer, Rogers replied with a soothing: “Mr. Minister, I’m pleased to hear that this money is safe.”

Phew. So am I.

But the highlight of a dull day was the performance of Guy Boutilier, for former PC turned Wildrose Alliance member from Fort McMurray.

Guy has always been an excitable type, with arms flapping away like he was being controlled by a drunken puppetmaster. Well, Guy was positively outraged — outraged, I tell you — by how hard-done by the poor oilsands industry was by Premier Stelmach. Here’s what he said:

“First of all, I want to take this opportunity to compliment – I said compliment – the Minister of Energy because he was the only, the only one, who didn’t throw the oil sands industry under the bus yesterday with the unfortunate duck situation. The Premier and the Minister of Environment clearly did. My question today is to the Minister of Environment. Will you apologize to the workers who are at the Mildred Lake site, working 24 hours a day, and, rather than being a judge and a jury and an executioner, wait for the findings first rather than the inexcusable tone that you used yesterday?”

Environment Minister Rob Renner was somewhat dumbfounded by the question.

“I have been doing my very best to turn down the rhetoric from members on the other side of the House from the media and point out to them that we have an investigation under way, and until that investigation has been concluded, we should not be jumping to any kind of conclusion.”

But Guy was just getting started:

“Perhaps the Minister of Environment can communicate that to his leader because the headlines today read that the Premier demands answers – he demands – yet here are the companies working out there, extraordinary lengths with technology, working 24 hours a day. They fail to talk about the motherhood that took place yesterday. It’s inexcusable, his tone and the Premier’s tone. So will you apologize for the Premier for what he had said in the media yesterday?”


Anyway, Renner did his best to calm down Boutilier.

“The Premier is saying the same thing as I am saying: yes, we do want some answers. That’s why we’re conducting an investigation. We want to know – the Premier wants to know; I want to know – whether or not there were infractions of our regulations. That’s what the investigation is all about.”

Running out of steam, Boutilier gave it one last shot.

“Mr. Speaker, given that the minister is reassuring all Albertans that they’re not going to be inflammatory as they continue to put gasoline on fire, why hasn’t the minister, in fact, visited onsite that very situation? Why hasn’t he been there? Why hasn’t the Premier been there relative to the situation? Clearly, we hear about the oil sands. We hear about how important it is, but it’s not important enough to go and visit.”

Exhausted, Renner responded with “Mr. Speaker, the only person inflaming the situation in this House is that member over there.”

To get the full effect of Boutilier in action, you really have to see it. Arms chopping, eyes bulging, voice raising; it’s really a sight to see.

Rest assured, oilsands, you have a friend in Guy Boutilier. He’s a little nutty, but he’s in your corner.


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