Thursday, August 10, 2017

-MLAs have been taking advantage of the housing subsidies for years, said Craig, and the expense claim rules need to be reviewed by the government. The federation raised the issue in 2012, but its concerns have not been addressed, he said. "For decades, there have been MLAs taking these funds and — not necessarily using them to rent out an apartment on Airbnb — but using them to buy homes, then selling those and making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of it," Craig said. "There's a much bigger issue there that's worth exploring." -----------------Political analyst Paul McLoughlin said he thinks Fildebrandt created "a huge political issue" by renting out his apartment, even if it was within the rules. ​ "The [UCP] is damaged by what he's done," McLoughlin said on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM Thursday. "I think his political career is damaged." McLoughlin said with this type of controversy, it's unlikely Fildebrandt would be seriously considered for a cabinet position, especially finance minister, if the UCP were to form government in the future.------------Julie Ali Interesting that a former Canadian Taxpayers Federation member who railed against the abuse of the public purse is now utilizing the public purse to generate extra income. The loophole that permits this sort of rental of accommodations occupied by MLAs needs to end. The PCs may have permitted this sort of milking of the system but the NDP folks should end it. Also the use of accommodation funds to buy property and then sell them off for profit is a poor use of our public dollars. It raises the question of why do we have the housing allowance in the first place. Citizens do not get a housing allowance when they work in one place and have family in another place for example. If citizens work in two places they pay for their own accommodation. Eg. someone can work in northern Alberta and have a house in Edmonton where he may work some hours. The two properties are paid for by the citizen. Now why do we have a housing allowance for politicians when they could jolly well pony up the money for two places from their already extravagant pay, perks, expense allowances and pension plans? We are providing an excessive housing allowance for what purpose? I guess we are doing this sort of gifting because we have no choice; the MLAs make the laws that benefit them and not the taxpayers of Alberta.« less





Julie Ali

Just now
The housing allowance for politicians should end.
When citizens work in two locations we pay for our accommodations with our business salaries.
So my question is why are politicians exempt from this same philosophy?
I mean if citizens have to pay for say a house in Edmonton and an apartment in northern Alberta while working in both places just to pay for the bills of life--why can't the politicians do the same thing?
Could it be because politicians make the laws that they also ensure the perks of this nature?
In my opinion, the housing allowance is a perk that we aren't able to afford. End it.
MLAs are getting paid enough and should be able to afford two places; if not maybe don't go into politics.
LikeShow more reactions
Comment





Julie Ali

14 mins

I doubt this is a political smear because the facts indicate that this is the truth.
And how can the facts be a smear?
If anyone has done any smearing it's Mr. Fildebrandt who has spent the housing allowance and gained rental income as well.
Somehow I don't think this sort of using other peoples' money (our money) is appropriate even if there are no regulations against it.
I would respectfully suggest to the Notley crew that they tidy up this mess with appropriate legislation amendments or new legislation since politicians appear to be able to milk the system in very creative ways.

Derek Fildebrandt says controversy nothing more than a political "smear."
CBC.CA

LikeShow more reactions
Comment



http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/derek-fildebrandt-downtown-apartment-housing-allowance-1.4241523


Taxpayer advocate-turned-MLA sublets Edmonton condo while claiming public allowance

'I won't let smear distract from real issues,' Derek Fildebrandt writes

CBC News Posted: Aug 10, 2017 7:41 AM MT Last Updated: Aug 10, 2017 11:16 AM MT
Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt says criticisms of his housing allowance claims are nothing more than 'smear.'
Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt says criticisms of his housing allowance claims are nothing more than 'smear.' (CBC)
1699 shares


Facebook



Twitter



Reddit



Google



Share



Email

Related Stories

United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who sublet his downtown Edmonton apartment while claiming thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded housing subsidies, claims the controversy is just a political "smear."
The MLA for Strathmore-Brooks and former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation had been advertising his Jasper Avenue condo on Airbnb, describing the suite as "modernly furnished and very well-kept."
"With a sweeping view of the city and is in the thick of the action on Jasper Avenue," reads the ad.
"For business or pleasure, this apartment will serve you perfectly."
Derek airbnb ad
Derek Fildebrandt was renting out his downtown Edmonton apartment while claiming thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded housing allowance. (Airbnb)
Fildebrandt was charging between $50 and $83 a night for the one-bedroom suite.
It appears to have been rented out several times between January and March, with eight guest reviews posted for the apartment. The listing has since been deactivated.
During the same time frame, Fildebrandt claimed $7,720 in accommodation allowance for his Edmonton expenses.
Fildebrandt, 31, who was elected as a Wildrose MLA in the 2015 provincial election, has not responded to CBC News' requests for comment but tweeted Thursday morning that he will donate $2,555 to help pay off Alberta's debt.
"$2,555 over 8 months letting out my Edmonton home while unused," Fildebrandt wrote in a tweet on Thursday morning.  "I won't let smear distract from real issues."
$2,555 over 8 months letting out my Edmonton home while unused. I won't let smear distract from real issues & donate to the AB debt. #ableg
MLAs from ridings outside the Edmonton capital region are allotted a maximum housing budget of $23,160 each fiscal year to own or lease a property in the city.
According to the rules of the Legislative Assembly Office (LAO), the allowance can be used on expenses like rent and utilities but the money is only meant to cover the actual costs incurred by members.
Fildebrandt downplayed any controversy about his apartment, telling the Edmonton Journal that it's the 21st century and it's reasonable for people who are gone half the year to sublet their apartment.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci criticized Fildebrandt on Twitter Wednesday night for using a "tax-funded apartment for personal profit."
Yes, Derek, it's the 21st century and reasonable people don't Airbnb their tax funded apartment for personal profit #ableg #abpoli https://twitter.com/edmontonjournal/status/895472449592143872 …
In a statement to CBC News on Thursday, UCP caucus deputy leader Mike Ellis said the party is "reviewing this matter carefully."
"While it has been explained to be an approved LAO activity, we take fiscal responsibility seriously."
A spokesperson for Brian Jean's UCP leadership campaign said Jean would not comment on Fildebrandt's expense claims Thursday, and that Fildebrandt would have to speak for himself.

'Huge political issue'

Political analyst Paul McLoughlin said he thinks Fildebrandt created "a huge political issue" by renting out his apartment, even if it was within the rules. ​
"The [UCP] is damaged by what he's done," McLoughlin said on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM Thursday. "I think his political career is damaged."
McLoughlin said with this type of controversy, it's unlikely Fildebrandt would be seriously considered for a cabinet position, especially finance minister, if the UCP were to form government in the future.
"[Fildebrandt] has long been a critic of both the Conservatives and the NDP with respect to fiscal responsibility," he said. "Here's an example where suddenly it looks like he's competing in the rental market with a subsidized house."
Political scientist Duane Bratt of Mount Royal University in Calgary said the expense claims are especially concerning given Fildebrandt's political resumé.
"Given that he used to be the Alberta director of the taxpayers federation, who used to attack members of the [Alison] Redford government for behaviour like this all the time, there is a high degree of hypocrisy," Bratt said.
"Even if no rules were broken, the perception is that he was profiting off the taxpayer."

'A bigger can of worms'

Colin Craig, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said Fildebrandt will have to answer to taxpayers for the controversy.
"He has to answer to the public for what he does as an MLA," Craig said. "He's no longer an employee with our organization.
"From our perspective, we're glad that he's going to turn the funds over to the legislature and put them towards debt repayment, but this is really starting to open up a bigger can of worms."
MLAs have been taking advantage of the housing subsidies for years, said Craig, and the expense claim rules need to be reviewed by the government. The federation raised the issue in 2012, but its concerns have not been addressed, he said.
"For decades, there have been MLAs taking these funds and — not necessarily using them to rent out an apartment on Airbnb — but using them to buy homes, then selling those and making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of it," Craig said.

"There's a much bigger issue there that's worth exploring."


  • Julie Ali
Interesting that a former Canadian Taxpayers Federation member who railed against the abuse of the public purse is now utilizing the public purse to generate extra income.

The loophole that permits this sort of rental of accommodations occupied by MLAs needs to end. The PCs may have permitted this sort of milking of the system but the NDP folks should end it.

Also the use of accommodation funds to buy property and then sell them off for profit is a poor use of our public dollars. It raises the question of why do we have the housing allowance in the first place.

Citizens do not get a housing allowance when they work in one place and have family in another place for example. If citizens work in two places they pay for their own accommodation. Eg. someone can work in northern Alberta and have a house in Edmonton where he may work some hours. The two properties are paid for by the citizen.

Now why do we have a housing allowance for politicians when they could jolly well pony up the money for two places from their already extravagant pay, perks, expense allowances and pension plans? We are providing an excessive housing allowance for what purpose?
 I guess we are doing this sort of gifting because we have no choice; the MLAs make the laws that benefit them and not the taxpayers of Alberta.« less

No comments:

Post a Comment