The first day back at the Legislature was a total catastrophe yesterday, when a vote by members of the house to pick a new deputy chair of legislature committees went sideways.
NDP MLA Heather Sweet was up against Wildrose MLA Prasad Panda for the spot and since the NDP have a majority with 54 MLA’s, it should have been an easy win. However, according to Wildrose house leader Nathan Cooper, it looked like it was going to be a tight vote since only about 30 NDP members showed up in the chamber to cast a ballot.
The calamity ensued when Brian Mason pushed his way past 2 pages after rushing from a meeting upon discovering the chamber had been barred, which is tradition when voting has commenced. These are the rules, but Mason and several NDP members flooded into the chamber to take their seats anyways. Speaker Bob Wanner then ordered the results of the first vote nullified without announcing the winner, which could have been Panda. He then requested that the late arriving MLA’s leave voluntarily, so that another vote could take place - and of course, Sweet ended up winning the second time around.
Brian Mason currently has 16 years of experience as an MLA and he’s the longest standing member in the Legislature. In fact, he was once leader of the NDP party before stepping down prior to this last election. And he blamed the gong show that he led on a misunderstanding of rules and being unprepared, which simply doesn’t add up.