Alberta Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman apologized Tuesday morning for a comment she made in response to a query from Wildrose MLA Jason Nixon during Monday’s question period in the legislature.
“The premier has told Albertans that they are our country’s embarrassing cousins,” said Nixon “She said that a hundred thousand families who are wrestling with unemployment and ballooning prices from the NDP’s disaster of a carbon tax are simply ‘Chicken Littles’ who need to ‘make better choices’. Premier, your policies are devastating Alberta families. For a government that has shown such gross incompetence, when is the premier going to ask herself to make better choices?”
Premier Rachel Notley was not in the chamber when the question was asked and Hoffman replied in her capacity as deputy premier.
“We’re creating jobs. We’re cutting school fees. We’re freezing tuition. The members opposite just want to keep jacking those things up. We’re focused on hard hats. They’re spending a lot of time with sewer rats.”
Nixon called Hoffman’s response shocking.
“I was very clear about the concerns of my constituents and the people of Alberta of the direction of the government, and most specifically the comments the government have been making in the past,” said Nixon. “She answered that question with the sewer rats comment.”
On Tuesday morning, Hoffman apologized for what she said.
“I have been frustrated by some of the vitriol that has become part of public debate and [Monday] I regret that in response to questions from the member for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, I contributed to that,” said Hoffman. “I sincerely apologize and ask that the members accept my apology, and that my comment be withdrawn.”
While Hoffman did not clarify who she was alluding to with the ‘sewer rats’ comment, she did tell News Talk 770’s Rob Breakenridge who it wasn’t aimed at.
“That wasn’t a reference to Albertans, but I understand why they may have taken it that way,” Hoffman said.
LISTEN: Sarah Hoffman apologizes for “sewer rats” comment
This isn’t the first incident where the langugage of MLAs has been brought into the spotlight in recent days. On March 7, discussion about the Wildrose on Campus controversy led Speaker Robert Wanner to admonish both sides of the house for the tone of their comments during proceedings.
“Please stick to the subject matter,” said Wanner. “Avoid those statements that may be perceived as personal and be respectful.”
“I spent much of my life in public education telling children to choose their words wisely and I let my heated emotions get the best of me,” Hoffman said.