Editorial: $870,000 is a lot of money

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.

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  1. It’s absolutely ridiculous how much money politicians get for doing the little bit of work they were elected for. It’s even more insane when you consider how much extra money they get for “sitting” on those committees that should be considered part of an elected officials job.

  2. Its time for a different government. Not just new people in the same party but a new one. We keep hearing day after day about the problems the PC’s are facing. It has to s t o p.

    I know there is no way of knowing if anyone else would be any different but I was once told to trust people (or a party) until they give you cause to do otherwise.

    I no longer trust the PC party!!

    I have therefore put my trust in the Wild Rose party until they give me cause to do otherwise.

  3. I am one of the Morinville residents mentioned that tries to stay in touch with what is happening in town and yes I was outraged about the cost overrun of the St. Germain Plaza. I was equally outraged about the news of the committee not meeting and continuing to collect the money.

    I have been known to send “snotty” emails or letters to the powers that be either Federal or Provincial about issues that irritate me. However one voice here and one voice there just doesn’t cut it. It is becoming important for people to wake up and realize that it is imperative to vote at all levels of government and take an active interest as it is your money they are spending.

  4. Thing is, the people who should be voting – the ones who aren’t already in someone’s back pocket – really DON’T care. They use the excuse “I don’t vote because politicians are all the same”. It’s just easier to close your ears and not take civic responsibility seriously.

  5. Joe,

    I was reading a recent article in the Edmonton Journal on this and I don’t believe that any of the large political parties were innocent. Case in point, Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth accepted $40,000,and Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier who only had time to accept $4,000. At least Premier Redford has ordered Conservative MLAs to stop accepting the committee pay until a salary review is complete.

    I don’t blame the members who accepted the pay; rather, I blame the broken system that allowed it to happen. This is only one committee that we have heard about. How many others are there out there that have sat infrequently and pay the same or more to its members? I think that an overall review of all committee work is required.

    My non-party two cents.

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