The Edmonton Journal has a pretty selective memory today by calling Brian Mason’s recent comments comparing one of the Tories recent land-use bills Stalinistic “out of bounds.”
For the record, NDP Leader Mason stated:
Mr. Mason: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. This government is proposing a bill that gives them unprecedented power to control all activities on any land in the province it designates, and it would lock them in jail if they protest. Joseph Stalin would be proud. To the Minister of Infrastructure: why is your government implementing a policy that tramples the rights of rural property owners? [Emphasis added]
And in a letter from the NDP’s caucus Chief of Staff to the Journal and a Point of Order in the Assembly, they further clarified:
Point of Order
Mr. Mason: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. I rise under Standing Order 23(h), when a member “makes allegations against another Member,” and 23(i), “imputes false or unavowed motives to another Member.” The Premier used words to the effect that I had called him a Stalinist. This came out of the question that we just dealt with
from Calgary-McCall. It was a bit of a diversion; the Premier wanted to stand up and talk about something that happened quite some time ago. The Premier was quite wrong in suggesting that I had called him a Stalinist. I’ve got the Hansard here of March 9. I said, “Rural Albertans are furious that a rural Premier and his cabinet would propose such a Stalinist law. To the Premier: why won’t you admit that this policy tramples the land rights of rural Albertans?”
I did not call the Premier a Stalinist, but I called the bill such. This was actually subject to a public clarification in the form of a letter to the editor in the Edmonton Journal on March 27 written by the chief of staff for the NDP opposition caucus. It states there:
Mason absolutely did not accuse Premier Ed Stelmach of being a Stalinist. Mason characterized Bill 19 as such, for its authoritarian provisions allowing government to trample the land rights of rural Albertans without compensation or defined right of appeal.
Mr. Speaker, I will always stand up when someone puts words in my mouth and says that I said something that I did not actually say. Now, having said that, the Premier has also stated that those comments caused him personal hurt. You know, this might be a bit of an unusual situation, where I’m standing up making a point of order to insist on my right to be quoted accurately and correctly and, at the same time, to make an apology to the person whom I’m raising the point of order against. It was not my intention to cause the Premier or any other member or any other person personal pain or hurt as a result of that statement, and I want to apologize to the Premier for doing so.
You know, when I feel an apology is required as a result of my behaviour or what I say, I don’t need to be compelled to do it, but I do ask, Mr. Speaker, that you recognize, in fact, that I’ve been again misquoted by the Premier and had words ascribed to me that I have not uttered. You know, I want to reiterate that I find that unacceptable.
I believe that it’s contrary to the rules of this Assembly, and I think that the Premier needs to deal with that appropriately.
The Speaker failed to grant Mason’s request for a misquotation.
But let’s dig back a bit, and see who else has been called a Stalinist or Soviet in this Legislature.
From Dr. Kevin Taft (Liberal) in reference to Bill 27, the Research and Innovation Act:
There’s also, of course, the whole idea – and I think it’s kind of ironic that this comes from a government that seems so consistently committed to the marketplace because the marketplace is all about decentralized decisions. You know, there’s a sort of famous case study on how it is that people in Edmonton, for example, can go to any number of grocery stores in the middle of January and get fresh tomatoes. How does that happen? Well, when you look at that, it doesn’t happen because there’s a minister responsible for fresh tomatoes. It doesn’t happen because there’s some centralized structure. It happens because there’s this tremendously decentralized structure, and a whole series of marketplace decisions that seem to occur on their own lead to us having fresh tomatoes in Edmonton.
You know, the comparison was the old Soviet system, where there was central planning. I don’t know how fresh the tomatoes were in Moscow in January, but I don’t suppose they were that great. [Emphasis added]
Or what about from Mr. Stelmach himself, seeing as he is the Ukrainian immigrant whose family suffered at the hands of Stalin and the Communist regimes (which he makes a point to bring up at every possibility in the Legislature – he even brought forth Bill 27 in late 2008 to recognize Ukrainian Genocide and Famine Memorial Day), he has clearly personally suffered trauma at the hands of Stalin’s Communists, and would be above making ad hominem attacks like the other parties, right?
(In reference to calls for managed growth in the oil sands):
Mr. Stelmach: Obviously, now we see the true colour of the Leader of the Opposition. He sure as heck isn’t a capitalist, talking about managing growth through the government. Sounds more like what they were doing in the former Soviet Russia. [Emphasis added]
And if we go back even further, we can find tons of back and forth comparing both the government and both opposition parties to Soviet/Stalin/Russian Communists.
So you know what Edmonton Journal? Do your homework and don’t accuse just one party that you may have it in for of playing unfairly. They’re all dirty in this province.