January 16th, 2021

The true function of an MLA

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on January 30, 2020.

Nathan Neudorf


Criticism by certain people that the City of Lethbridge “had to hire a lobbyist” because I was not doing my job is not only false, but entirely misleading >and opportunistic, given that these allegations were made while I was away on vacation after a very busy fall for our government.

First, the City has not hired a “lobbyist.” Rather, they hired a consultant – something that municipalities across the province commonly do and the reason they do this is to help with their messaging and communication strategy regardless of who is in power and which level of government they are seeking support from. Second, if the City has hired this “lobbyist” with the sole purpose of acquiring more funding to address the challenges Lethbridge is facing with addictions, it demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding the government’s plans and timelines. Third, and most importantly, the allegation by those that hiring a lobbyist is necessary because of a lack of representation on my part is misleading since lobbying government is not the true function of an MLA.

A lobbyist, by definition, is an activist who seeks to persuade members of government to enact legislation or grant funding to benefit their cause, often to the exclusion of other groups or causes – a completely single-minded occupation by virtue of its mandate. >Sadly, this definition seems consistent with the NDP’s ideological approach and their solution to everything is to throw money at problems instead of trying to find responsible and rational solutions. Big spending requiring big taxes supporting big government will not fix our problems and is the very kind of thinking that spends out of control, calls for provincial sales tax, and saddles the citizens of Alberta with a debt of over $63 billion.

As an MLA I am not a lobbyist. I was elected as a representative of Lethbridge-East. As a representative, I was elected to act and speak on behalf of a wider group of Albertans than only those who voted for me. >This is exactly what I have done, not just for Lethbridge-East, but for all of Lethbridge as the only representative for the government from our city in the Legislature. >Despite what unions, lobbyists or former MLAs for Lethbridge-East might say, I have taken the concerns and viewpoints of the people of Lethbridge (and not just those in my constituency) directly to the appropriate ministers. And, to fulfil my role as representative, I have attended many meetings where the general tone has been less than supportive.

Not only have I represented Lethbridge by sharing the thoughts and views of all its people with various ministers, I have worked extremely hard to put Lethbridge in the spotlight by bringing 18 ministers and the premier to Lethbridge over a six-month period in 2019. It is worth noting that this high engagement demonstrates the importance of Lethbridge to this government.

I am proud to represent Lethbridge and to be its voice in the Legislature, publicly and privately. >I will continue to advocate for all those who live in Lethbridge and seek funding for those projects that benefit the widest interests possible while being fiscally responsible – which is what a responsible government does.

Lethbridge is a strong, vibrant and diverse city. >Our economy is solidly agricultural with food production and transport as natural supporting elements. >We have one of the most collaborative models of education and advanced education in the province. > >

As a representative I am not a lobbyist, and I do not advocate for only those things that benefit me and my supporters. My personal commitment in my role as your MLA is that I will continue to show respect to those who criticize me, listen to those who blame me or my government, seek to speak on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, as well as serve everyone who lives in Lethbridge – because that’s the job I was elected to do.

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Well and clearly stated. Unfortunate that such misleading publicity occasioned it.

Southern Albertan

With due respect, and very sorry to say, it seems that the list is getting longer and longer for UCP MLAs to advocate, hopefully, for that which is, not, benefitting most/or all, of us, at this point. It really is getting to where one could be starting to feel sorry for well-meaning UCP MLAs for the increasing embarrassing foibles of this UCP government, unfortunately.
And re: the UCP government getting blame? Of course, the Kenney UCP government is going to get blame! It’s almost a humorous paradox that the UCP government is almost always blaming its woes on the AB NDP and Justin Trudeau. Will there be blame if the Kenney UCP austerity program pushes Alberta into recession? Will there be blame for not diversifying Alberta’s economy now that there will be no more booms and now, not bringing in enough revenue?
Here is another foible today which has come to light today. How does one advocate for/explain away this sort of thing?
“Freedom of information filing reveals supposedly independent ‘Blue Ribbon’ panel had help from staff in Alberta premier’s office.” It, and much more re: Alberta’s UCP woes can be read at: http://www.albertapolitics.ca


nice splitting of hairs – ok, lobbyists tend to be highly paid lackeys for the very wealthiest individuals and corps; handsomely rewarded are lobbyists as they are to grease the hands of the govt of the day – and its various most prominent players – with kickbacks, handouts, pocket linings, and of course, the plum corporate jobs that enrich the prominent elected players after they leave office. and we should know better, mr neudorf, that your job is mostly to collect a highly over valued paycheque, and do what you are told by the party brass. your job is, primarily, to raise your hand when told, to ask the questions in the legislature you are told, and to represent what the premier’s office tells you.


“When confusion, diversion, distraction and disinformation are ramped up so they become an omnipresent pollutant of public debate, we may end up losing faith in the very possibility of truthful discussion…”

Stephan Lewandowsky 2019. “Gaslighting: from partners to politicians – how to avoid becoming a victim”. The Conversation. 14 Aug 2019. Accessed 30 Jan 2020.

A summary of Mr. Neudorf’s assertions:

1. Criticism of Mr. Neudort’s actions or in-actions are pure opportunistic fabrications.
2. Those who don’t understand the difference between a lobbyist and a consultant also don’t understand what the UCP government is planning.
3. By hiring an advocate, the City of Lethbridge doesn’t understand the UCP plans and timeline.
4. The NDP is ideologically driven and not solutions oriented.
5. Unions, lobbyists and former NDP MLAs are not telling the truth.
6. Nathan Neudorf was elected by Lethbridge-East and other Alberta constituents.

However, when one parses, or ‘reads between the lines’ of Mr. Neudorf’s assertions, the following questions arise:

1. Is criticism not an essential component of a democratic system?
2. Are all unions, lobbyists and the Opposition misspeaking?
3. Is Mr. Neudorf not responsible to the City of Lethbridge as it addresses concerns over cuts by the UCP to municipal funding and an inability to secure funding for specific needs?
4. Does the UCP not have an ideological perspective as a centre-right party?
5. Is the UCP the only entity in the province telling the truth?
6. Other than Lethbridge-East constituents, who is Nathan Neudorf representing and speaking for in the Legislature?

Criticism is an essential component in a democratic society. This is both the role of the Official Opposition in the Legislature and of an engaged citizenry in a constituency.

Can it not be argued that engaging in a lengthy fallacy of distraction as defence against a core democratic principle serves to stifle accountability of the official Office of MLA? Does this also not serve to discredit the legitimate concerns of members of the electorate, i.e. political gaslighting?

Dissent is a component of democracy. History tells us that where dissent is not tolerated, authoritarianism rules.

Dennis Bremner

Funny? I thought the job of a backbencher was too represent the policies of the Government as the best for society and ignore any opposing view as being irrelevant?
So which is it, is it to “promo” the policy of the government and pretend at all times you support the policy as the best for the constituents or is it to represent the constituents of a riding and, as a backbencher watch yourself get nowhere?

History says the former! As an example if 99% of your east side constituents want the SCS out of Lethbridge and Kenney and the inner ring decides it stays! What are you going to represent to “us” Mr Neudorf, the good thinking of your party or be outraged creating a castoff position for yourself in your own party? Ahhh the tough questions that never get answered!