January 24th, 2021

Speak up for freedom

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on February 26, 2020.

We mustn’t lose appreciation for

our democratic institutions

Nathan Cooper



As the Speaker of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, one of my top priorities is to >defend, maintain and build public trust in our democratic institutions.

To this end, I have expanded efforts to reach out to Albertans through social media to help demystify aspects of procedure within the Legislature. I have also tried to visit as many schools as possible, to provide students with a basic appreciation of how and why our institutions were created to serve the public.

In tough times like ours, frustrations are high. Building faith in our public institutions often feels like an uphill battle, and cynicism is not solely reserved for adults. I recently took a question from a young girl in a Social Studies class, who told me she doesn’t believe elected officials will ever make a difference in her life. >

Her concerns perfectly illustrate a string of recent public opinion polls across North America and Europe depicting a growing number of young people feeling disconnected from our institutions. Many seem willing to reject democracy altogether.

Now, more than ever, I believe we need to remind ourselves of the importance of our individual rights and freedoms. They are the very foundation of our democratic institutions – institutions that have created an era of economic, social and scientific progress unprecedented in human history.

To be reminded of a world without individual rights, we need only look back in time what many scholars consider a key turning point: King John’s acceptance of what would come to be known as the Magna Carta in June of 1215. In many ways, this document planted the seeds for reform that would change the world: the idea that individuals can and must be granted freedom from the arbitrary authority of the state.

This idea was not born in a vacuum, it evolved out of an era of frustration with an English crown that continually raised taxes, scornfully flouted the jurisdiction of local barons, and placed foreign interests above the welfare of the English people, all justified by the notion that the king is above the law. The political and economic freedoms we enjoy today evolved out of the ashes of these fundamental injustices. >

Many of the symbols of our society’s long fight for individual freedom remain proudly on display at Alberta’s Legislature to this very day.

Take, for example, the mace ceremony. >Every sitting begins the same way, with the Sergeant at Arms presenting the mace, a symbol of the Monarch’s power. It is entrusted to the representatives of the people – in the people’s house – to write laws for the people. This one, simple ceremony tells the story of a centuries-long struggle for freedom, justice and democracy. >

To be sure, I take this ceremony a little more personally than most. There is a good reason. In the early days of our Parliamentary democracy, the Speaker was often in a difficult position between the will of the Parliament and the monarch.

Over the years, >monarchs who were displeased by Parliament’s resolutions executed no fewer than nine Speakers. The road to freedom is rarely smooth.

Another symbol of importance is our >provincial motto: >”Fortis et Liber.” It translates to >”Strong and Free.” Although adopted quite recently in 1980, I cannot think of a better motto to describe both the character and the aspirations of our province.

Today, much of the focus of our political discourse is on the left vs. right dynamic. However, when it comes to the progress of our people, there is another spectrum that matters just as much, if not more. On one hand: authoritarianism; on the other hand: freedom. Our Parliamentary democracy is rooted firmly on the freedom side of this spectrum. Our freedoms of speech, religion, assembly and association are not luxuries; they form the very core of our identity as free people.

It is also worth noting that historically, those who seek to dominate others have always tried to devalue individual freedom. Some claim that freedom makes our society weak. Alberta’s motto rejects this notion outright. We aim to be both Strong and Free. That is the attitude that makes Alberta one of the greatest places in the world to live.

Now, I am a realist. I understand better than most that the thrust and parry of modern politics is growing increasingly divisive. My word of caution is simply this: we must not allow the disagreements of the day to threaten the principles and values that we hold most dear.

Today, this very minute, we see a generation turning away from our democratic institutions and values.

We cannot simply shrug and look away. We must speak up for freedom.

Nathan Cooper is the UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills and also serves as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

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Southern Albertan

With due respect, many of us Albertans, now, are viewing the populist authoritarian Kenney UCP with a jaundiced eye. Perhaps this opinion registers strongly now, particularly for those who now regret voting for the UCP.
“Opinion: Trump-style politics the new normal for Alberta”
Quote from the article: “Ultimately, the UCP’s actions are designed for one purpose: to politically threaten, financially cripple, and bring to heel any individual or group that dare stand against it.”
Are UCP MLAs, et al, capable of doing the work to dig deep to understand this? As the writer of the article also says: “we should all be concerned re: this attempt at a new normal of authoritarian rule.” This is not the much beloved fiscal Lougheed conservatism of yore. It is a shame that more Albertans do not recognize/know this. Now, we seem to have to sit back and wait, watch and see how the Kenney UCP’s austerity program will, and how it has already, negatively affected Alberta and Albertans.
Thus, the Nathan Cooper opinion and despite possible well intentions re: democratic institutions, for me, rings hollow.


Audacity, impudence, impertinence, insolence, and presumption.

How in good conscience can Mr. Cooper boldly declare that Albertans should accept the erroneous notion that the United Conservative Party under the leadership of Jason Kenney is the bastion of democracy in this province?

Adding insult to injury, Mr. Cooper, as identified in his opening statement, has arbitrarily determined his role to be greater than mandated by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta which states:

“In essence, the Speaker ensures that members have the necessary tools and resources to fulfill their roles as representatives of the people of Alberta.”


Most definitely, Albertans do not require a lecture on freedom and democracy from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly given the unending list of antidemocratic authoritarian policies instituted by the government of Jason Kenney within less than one year of a four year mandate at the same time the RCMP continue to investigate UCP leadership voter fraud.

If Mr. Cooper is so passionate about democracy in Alberta, as he claims, he might conscientiously consider resigning from his position as Speaker to cross the floor of the Legislature and sit as an independent where he could truly fulfill his role as a representative of the people of Alberta.


agreed so.ab and imo.
kind of like the oil king telling us there will no mess left to clean up…trust me lol
there is no justifying your privilege, your bloated salaries and benefits, or your lack of independence that would be critical in order to uphold even a measure of democracy, integrity. how do you spew the spunk you have just invented above, nathan cooper, whilst there is no in house check on corruption, too little service to the public at large, and too little representation by mlas to the needs of their constituents?

Tris Pargeter

Exactly, all of the above, and then some….


The TRUE CON is revealed.