Cookie monsters, opposition members sleeping in shifts in the Alberta legislature, smear campaigns, resignations and accusations.
Enough is enough, according to Progressive Conservative MLA for Athabasca-Redwater, Jeff Johnson, who has called for an end to the theatrics.
Speaking from Fort McMurray on Friday, Johnson said the storm of controversy following changes to the Alberta Health Services board and the suspension from caucus of MLA Raj Sherman had become “a bit of a circus” and it was now time to move on.
Johnson said he approved of the ending of Stephen Duckett’s tenure as CEO of Alberta Health Services, saying it would probably be a “positive step in the long-run”.
Duckett’s position came to an end shortly after he refused to speak to the media about health service concerns because he was “eating a cookie.”
Sherman, an emergency room doctor, was suspended from caucus last Monday after making headlines by sharply criticizing the government for failing to act on reducing ER wait times.
Johnson said the suspension was not because Sherman had spoken out against the government.
“We have to respect people’s rights as elected MLAs to speak out,” he said. “No one in our caucus is criticized or intimidated for speaking out. That has never been my experience.
“Suspensions have come from deeper issues, issues we can’t talk about because of confidentiality.”
On Friday, there were reports of an alleged “smear campaign” within the party against Sherman. However, Johnson said this was not the case.
“This is pretty inflammatory stuff,” he pointed out. “I’m really disappointed with some of the stuff I’ve seen reported. I know it’s not true.
“Raj has always been a good friend. I know he is under a lot of pressure and stress and I hope he can take some time for himself over the Christmas season, spend some time with his family and take a step back so that we can all move on and work together again.”
Opposition members pushed through a marathon 27-hour debate on a proposal to change the law to cut ER wait times on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
Johnson said the value of such an extended debate over one amendment was “questionable”.
Johnson pointed to some positive developments in recent days, such as the new protocols to reduce pressure on ERs, developed by health care leaders, which are to be piloted in some hospitals in Alberta this week.
“I hope we can see the opposition and all members move on from this because there is lots of serious business that needs to be done,” he said.