by Colin Smith
A Morinville Councillor was among 10 elected officials listed by Calgary Councillor Joe Magliocca on meal and drinks expense claims for last summer’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City.
But like seven others of those officials who he supposedly met with, Councillor Rebecca Balanko says she didn’t actually have a meal or drinks with Magliocca.
Balanko and other Council members were representing Morinville at the meeting, which took place May 30 to June 2.
Contacted by the Calgary Herald about being listed on a $216 restaurant bill Magliocca submitted as expenses, she said she only ever met him in passing.
Balanko told the Herald that on the date of the meal listed in Magliocca’s receipts, she attended events with Sturgeon County and Edmonton Councillors.
“(Federation of Canadian Municipalities) is a really wonderful event, and I certainly wouldn’t want it to be misconstrued,” she stated to the Herald. “I’ve met fabulous connections and people who are really important to what we do and how we act as a municipality.”
The situation came to light because Magliocca expensed to two to three times more than other Calgary Council members for the trip – a total of $6,400, about $1,800 of which was attributed to “hosting” costs.
Following the revelation that most of those he was supposedly hosting had not been at these occasions, Magliocca described the incorrect receipts as a “clerical error.” He has since paid back $900 of the expense money received.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has used the occasion to call for municipal politicians to be subject to recall legislation.
“Citizens should be able to hold Councillors accountable when they waste tax dollars and blow our money on things like fancy steak dinners and martinis,” stated Franco Terrazzano, the Federation’s Alberta Director, in a press release.
“Recall rules would give the people the ability to hold Councillors accountable. Some Councillors clearly need a reminder that they work for taxpayers and not the other way around.”
The Alberta government is currently holding online consultations on election rules for municipalities and school boards, and the recall of municipally elected officials is one of the issues it is asking feedback for, the release stated.