Albertan taxpayers were reminded how some Albertans are more equal than others, to reference a famous novel.
That’s the impression left when the Progressive Conservative government whipped government MLAs into forfeiting $2,700 cash to bail out the few bad seeds in the caucus who did not have the moral decency to pay off their debt owed to Albertans.
I’m referring to the infamous ‘No Meet Committee,’ where MLAs received $1,000 each month to sit on a committee even though it had not met since 2008.
Wildrose and Liberal MLAs cut cheques to return the No Meet Committee money months ago. The PCs waited for summer to roll around before bullying the entire caucus into coughing up the dough.
We all remember when Premier Alison Redford apologized for not acting sooner to instruct MLAs to pay back “every penny” of the money. Now that the election is long gone, so too are the premier’s promises to improve transparency and accountability.
This flagrant disregard for taking personal responsibility for funds improperly received is another broken promise by Premier Redford and the PC party.
Furthermore, the Redford PCs deliberately mislead Albertans into thinking the money had been paid back during the election. This kind of deception during an election is unworthy of the premier’s office.
This strange twist in the sordid PC policy playbook lets defeated PC insiders such Evan Berger, the guy who recently accepted a patronage appointment from his former ministry, off the hook. PC MLAs who sat on the committee are walking away with tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money in their back pockets.
Between PC MLAs Pearl Calahasen ($15,000), Alana Delong ($31,000), Jeff Johnson ($14,500), Moe Amery ($31,000), Frank Oberle ($14,000), Bridget Pastoor ($31,600), Naresh Bhardwaj ($6,000), George Rogers ($12,000), and Genia Leskiw ($31,700), more than $186,000 was collected from the No Meet Committee. However, with each only repaying $2,700 — the nine MLAs will walk away with more than $162,000 in their pockets.
For doing no work over 39 months of not holding a single meeting, that’s quite the rich payoff. Like a bunch of bandits, these PC MLAs have cashed in off the backs of everyday Albertans.
Albertans have had enough of the smoke and mirrors of Premier Redford’s empty promises. While elected on the promise of improving transparency and accountability, Premier Redford has failed to deliver.
I will hold this government to account for its failure to improve transparency and accountability in government.
As the MLA for the Lacombe-Ponoka constituency, I am always available to hear your concerns. Feel free to contact my office at #101 4892 46 Street, Lacombe, AB T4L 2B4 403 782 7725 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rod Fox is MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka.