Alberta's opposition Wildrose party says it doesn't regret calling Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's province a needy fiscal basket case, but does regret saying it to her face.
"The questions that we asked were fair, but certainly a more appropriate time could have been found, particularly when a visiting dignitary was not in the gallery," Wildrose house leader Nathan Cooper said in an interview Friday.
"We didn't have a respectful tone yesterday. We express regret for how things unfolded.
"The intention was never to embarrass the (Alberta) premier or the premier of Ontario."
Wynne was visiting the legislature Thursday and met with her Alberta counterpart, Rachel Notley, to discuss, among other issues, broad climate change plans being pursued by both provinces.
Wynne then sat through the opening of question period as a guest of the legislature.
Cooper said the plan, signed off by Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, was to pose questions criticizing Ontario and Wynne's government, but with the expectation that Wynne would not be there.
But he said when Wynne appeared in the gallery, the questions and comments posed by finance critic Derek Fildebrandt were locked in.
"It's certainly a challenge to make those changes on the fly," said Cooper.
Fildebrandt's question and comments came more than half an hour after Wynne had been seated in the gallery.
As Wynne looked on, Fildebrandt mocked her province as a failed, debt-bloated enterprise, urging Notley not to follow suit.
"Will the premier stop following the example set by (Wynne's) Ontario Liberals, put a cap on borrowing and get control of our out-of-control spending?" said Fildebrandt
"Ontario has the largest subnational sovereign debt on the planet. They're now even receiving equalization payments."
Fildebrandt also chastised Notley for inviting Wynne before she had invited Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, and as Notley tried to answer his question, he shouted across the aisle "Invite Premier Wall here! Invite Premier Wall!"
On Friday, Wynne was in Calgary meeting with Mayor Naheed Nenshi and local business leaders.
She said opposition parties have a role to criticize, but that guests in her building are always treated with respect.
"Visiting dignitaries from anywhere across the country or otherwise, when they come to Ontario, they are received by all parties with grace," Wynne told reporters.
"I'm quite sure if I were to go again to the (Alberta) legislature, it would be different."
She suggested the criticism by Wildrose had more to do with their opposition to fighting climate change. The Wildrose has been attacking Notley's broad-based carbon tax as an unnecessary burden at a time many Albertans are losing their jobs.
Nenshi criticized the Wildrose.
"The first thing I did this morning was apologize on behalf of the people of Calgary for the childish, petulant behaviour in the legislature yesterday," Nenshi said.
"We can have some common courtesy regardless of politics. That is something we should strive for, especially if we strive for leadership."
The NDP fired back at the Wildrose in the legislature Thursday. Government house leader Brian Mason called them "embarrassing cousins" and Notley said their actions prove the Wildrose is not ready to govern.
On Friday, Mason said the contretemps won't help as Alberta seeks Ontario support for the transboundary Energy East pipeline.
Cooper said the blowup won't affect Energy East at all because the decision on the pipeline is made by the National Energy Board.
The Canadian Press