Well, I suppose congratulations are in order to the opposition parties for their marathon, perhaps record-setting filibuster in the Legislature on Wednesday.

I was lucky — or unlucky, I’m still not sure which — to have participated in two of those sessions while I was MLA. One of them was on housing, and the Liberals’ attempt to get temporary rent controls implemented during the last boom, when rents went through the roof (for those who could afford a roof). We went all night and into the morning on that one, and I believe it was a noble cause. It was also kind of fun, although the novelty of it tended to wear off around 3 a.m. when nobody is watching.

We did it a second time, as well.

The thing is, I can’t remember what our second filibuster was all about. Haven’t a clue. I asked a former MLA friend of mine, and he can’t remember, either.

So, to be honest, the day and night effort of the opposition parties (based on debating Raj Sherman’s amendment to the Alberta Health Act which would make shorter ER wait times law) is a good show, and produces some enlightening and/or hilarious moments, some of which I hope to dig up by scanning Hansard when I have the time. But after all that effort, all those thousands and thousands or words spoken, all those earnest or nutty speeches and point of order, the bottom line is nothing will change. Sure, it’s fun for the opposition (and hell for the folks who put together Hansard), but to what end? The filibuster rated only a couple of paragraphs in the papers I read, and it’s not just because other events — Sherman’s complaints of a smear campaign against him, the collapse of the health board — superseded the events in the Legislature.

And while the opposition may be patting themselves on the back, my guess is the Tories are chuckling. The one thing any government hates is Question Period. It’s the one place where they have no control of what happens. So, when the oppos filibuster, guess what goes? Yep, QP. Ed Stelmach and his band of underachievers get the day off while the foot soldiers fill the seats. I’ll bet it’s the only smile Not So Fast Eddie has had on his face all week.

The bottom line is this — very few people care what goes on in the Legislature. No matter how much the MLAs might talk, their efforts mean little unless the public gets behind them in some way. And maybe they will, except I doubt that the public, despite the obvious anger at the chaos in the health system, has any idea of what the opposition members are talking about. And as long as the government holds the hammer — and it does, despite its increasingly shaky grasp — the filibuster, however well meaning, does nothing.

But what the hell. It’s still fun to run the show for a few hours.

One thought on “Did you hear about the filibuster? No?

  1. It is another sad indictment on how disengaged Albertans have become – that no one notices government activities dealing with and defending the single service everyone has an emotional attachment to. I listened to a phone in radio programme yesterday and a caller was ranting on about the fact we actually hired an Australian to run our health care system! Huh? Still dealing with news that is 18 month old. What hope is there for democracy and citizen involvement?

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