January 17, 2019 (Calgary) – Following allegations that a constituency worker was fired for refusing to assist their MLA with partisan activities, the Alberta Party Caucus is calling on the government to ensure that other staff aren’t being pressured into partisan work.
Eric Rosendahl, the NDP MLA for West Yellowhead, has been accused of pressuring his constituency assistant to participate in partisan activities, including his re-election campaign, and when the staff in question refused to participate they were fired shortly after.
As non-partisan employees of the Legislative Assembly Office, constituency staff are expressly forbidden from partisan activity during work hours.
Karen McPherson, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-MacKay Nose Hill and a former member of the NDP caucus, noted that unfair expectations for constituency staff could be a caucus wide issue.
“After the 2015 election there were not only a lot of new MLAs, there was also a lot of turnover for constituency staff.”
“Not having experience in the constituency staff role makes it harder to say no when your boss asks you to do something offside. Some of the new MLAs, and some people higher up who should have known better, started to push the boundaries on what was acceptable.”
“At one point they tried to push a collective agreement on these staffers, against LAO policies, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear about incidents like this.”
Alberta Party MLA and House Leader Greg Clark said the allegations are very serious, and more needs to be done to ensure this isn’t standard practice for government MLA’s.
“There are two very concerning issues here. The first is that MLA Rosendahl believes it is somehow appropriate to use non-partisan staff for his own partisan purposes. The second is that when this staff member refused, rightly, to assist in partisan activity, she was let go soon after.”
“There appear to be no consequences for abusing public resources. I call on the Premier to guarantee that constituency staff won’t face repercussions for refusing unethical requests.”
“She should also show leadership and discipline MLA Rosendahl for treating hard working non-partisan staff as his personal election team.”
“The previous government was seen as entitled after over forty years in government, but it looks like the NDP needed less than four years to get there.”
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Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs