Some Morinville residents who keep up with what’s going on in the community were outraged at the end of February when it was disclosed renovations to Civic Plaza were estimated to be $870,000 over budget. Comments included the belief taxes would surely go up, the proclamation that heads must surely roll, and the request someone must be made accountable for this egregious example of a council gone wild and spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.
Not to downplay the concerns of local residents about municipal spending, but we are just not hearing the same level of outrage that exactly the same amount of money – $870,000 – has been spent by the provincial government on a committee that has not met in four years.
The Standing Committee on Privileges, Elections, Standing Orders and Printing is a 21-member committee that has not met since the fall of 2008, and yet MLAs, both Tory and opposition, have been pocketing a grand a month for being on it.
Some MLAs have defended taking money for a dormant committee by saying there are many committees they sit on and receive no money for, a laughable response for any volunteering Albertan who sits on committees, boards and other groups free of pay at any time or of any kind. It is doubly laughable to any minimum-wage-earning Albertan for whom $1,000 a month represents upwards of 50 per cent of their gross paycheque.
But many of those Albertans are simply unaware of this gross misuse of public money, exposed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in their annual Teddy Awards last week.
Oddly enough, thanks to a so-called non-profit organization’s slick 30-minute video and the media parroting of the same, there are few in this province who do not know about Ugandan bad guy Joseph Kony and how we must all rise up and buy posters, t-shirts, and bracelets (from said so-called non-profit organization) to raise awareness of his dastardly deeds.
And yet few in this province know who Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Genia Leskiw is or how when asked by TV crews if she’d give back the $1,000 a month she’s been pocketing for a committee that has not held a meeting since 2008, simply responded with no comment.
To be perfectly clear, we’re not trying to compare the province’s committee-idle, money grabbing MLAs to a Ugandan thug that forced children to become soldiers.
But instead of spending our time on Facebook and Twitter rallying the troops to pop up posters of Joseph Kony, who has apparently not been seen in Uganda since 2008, we ought to be popping up posters of Genia Leskiw and the other MLAs who have not been seen in this idle, tax-payer funded committee since 2008.
Or you could just keep it all in mind come election day.