We are not getting value for the major bucks we spend on MLAs. They have a base salary of $127,000. Where in the world would you get this sort of pay for the sorts of individuals who populate the power palace? Many of these politicians get supplementary income as well besides the expenses that we pay for that include the housing allowance that is too generous in my opinion. And yet the fat cats think they can use the money we give them to generate side capital?
Troubling. Also troubling is that we have to listen to their lecturing about looking in the mirror by the Conservatives who are now part of the Wildrose in the unholy marriage to make the UCP.
No doubt this episode is an indication of the sorry state of the political hires in the UCP sector and what this will mean when Albertans hire them to rid ourselves of the NDP folks in the next election. Heck this is getting troublesome. We fire the PCs who were far too arrogant and entitled using the NDP broom. Now we are doing the same thing in the next election to fire the NDP who are now the arrogant and entitled ones who ignore their constituents. The next round who are we gonna hire to rid ourselves of the arrogant and entitled UCP folks?
Could it be the Alberta Party?
Who you gonna call for politician busting?
Editorial: Political integrity not for rent
Published on: August 11, 2017 | Last Updated: August 11, 2017 6:56 AM MDT
Derek Fildebrandt is squarely in the centre of an expense controversy. LEAH HENNEL LEAH HENNEL / LEAH HENNEL/POSTMEDIA
Long a thorn in the side of opposing political parties and his own, Derek Fildebrandt is now knee-deep in a garden of scorn and criticism of his own making.
The Strathmore-Brooks MLA has claimed costs for a condo in Edmonton (as allowed) but then rented it out via online agency Airbnb and pocketed the cash. Between January and March 2017 he claimed $7,720 for a downtown bachelor suite in Edmonton. That’s $2,573 a month. Fildebrandt says he made $2,555 off Airbnb rentals of the unit over eight months.
To most people, that’s the epitome of double dipping.
Members of the legislature who hail from outside the capital are entitled to claim a maximum of $23,160 in a fiscal year to own or lease a property. The money can go toward accommodations expenses like rent, utilities and parking but the rules explicitly state MLAs are only entitled to claim the costs incurred. It’s not a living allowance per se for the politicians to do with as they wish.
While it may not be technically against any rule — the optics are horrendous.
It doesn’t help that when questioned, Fildebrandt seemed to be patting himself on the back for his millennial ingenuity. “Find someone under 35 with a downtown apartment that doesn’t let their apartment if they’re gone half the year,” he told the Edmonton Journal. After all, “it’s the 21st century.”
It’s particularly galling because as finance critic for the now defunct Wildrose Party, Fildebrandt has made a career and reputation out of skewering the government, whether PC or NDP, over spending. He takes delight in exposing financial mismanagement. As his one-time colleague and former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said on News Talk 770 Thursday morning, Fildebrandt made himself a rather large target because he’s very “self-righteous.” If you’re going to operate like that, “then you’ve got to be squeaky clean.”
Once the news broke, Fildebrandt had the chance to offer a mea culpa. But he took a page from U.S. President Trump’s strategy of misdirection and obfuscation and came out swinging. He accused former Wildrose leader Brian Jean’s “backroom operators” of trying to smear him in retaliation for his denouncing Jean’s leadership the day before. “I won’t let smear distract from real issues and will donate to the (Alberta) debt.”
But let’s be clear: this is not about partisan politics. It about optics, ethics and what’s right. If other MLAs are collecting a taxpayer-funded housing subsidy and then pocketing more for the same unit, they’re also in the wrong. Alberta Party leader Greg Clark is right in calling for an audit of all MLA living expenses, and asking that rule-breakers be financially penalized.
It’s not like Alberta politicians are poorly paid to begin with. At a minimum, MLAs earn $127,000. In this province, in this economy, that’s pretty good. Trying to line your pocket in this manner shows an appalling lack of judgment and, we dare say, contempt for the taxpayer who’s paying your way.
We expected more from the Opposition shadow minister of finance — and former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. So should Albertans.