Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Alberta's Culture of Entitlement: Not What you Think

Premier Redford during 2012 Alberta Election (Photo credit: Jeff McIntosh/ The Canadian Press)
Alberta Premier Redford pats herself on the back for disclosing her spending of Alberta tax dollars, something the FDA believes she and every other elected representative ought to have done years ago.

As the commentary below states, Redford's expenditures range from extravagant to modest. It is unclear to the FDA how reliable and complete her disclosure is.

In addition, Redford only disclosed a brief travel summary of her extravagant trip to the 2012 Olympic Games, which cost Alberta taxpayers $2,800 per day per person for Redford and her five person entourage. In addition, Redford wasted $114,000 of Alberta tax dollars on unused hotel rooms. Would any private person be so negligent with their own money in over booking hotel rooms? Do you think Redford and her entourage should pay for the overbooking of rooms out of their own pocket? Evidence of Redford Operating in Another World

It appears in Alberta that politicians feel they are entitled to waste Alberta tax dollars. Based on the FDA's audit results for Alberta, this tendency may result from a culture of corruption which has become entrenched and expanded over the 42 plus years the PC Party has been in power. How can Albertans overcome this culture of entitlement? For instance, during the 2012 Alberta Election Raj Sherman of the Alberta Liberals wrote a cheque for payments received from being on a phantom committee (he received $3000.00 tax dollars a month), but only after public protest. How could Sherman or anyone else not reasonably notice the payment of $3000.00 every month?

Background on Alberta democracy:

In a 2012 FDA report, Alberta ranked last of all Canada's 10 provinces in fairness of electoral finance. 2012 FDA's Canadian Provinces Electoral Finance Report Only the Alberta NDP comes close to addressing the FDA's findings, measurements, and conclusions. 2008 and 2012 Alberta Democracy Reform Platforms

In another 2012 FDA report, Alberta received an overall score of 52.2% (out of reasonably attainable score of 100%).  2012 FDA Electoral Audit Report on Alberta The score means that Alberta democracy borders a failed state. The PC Party, Wildrose Party, and Alberta Liberals have strong links to Alberta corporate money as evidenced by contributions to those parties. Alberta top individual and corporate contributors These parties have shown minimal or no interest in reforming Alberta's deficient democracy as recommended in the FDA's audit report. The Alberta NDP is in the process of reviewing the FDA's audit report.

Commentary:

Alison Redford dishes out five years of travel, hosting and meal expenses receipts show a mix of cheap and expensive bills
By Keith Gerein and Karen Kleiss, (Edmonton Journal)

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford has released copies of all her travel, hosting and meal expenses from the nearly five years she has served in government.

The receipts and expense forms date from the time when she first became an MLA in March 2008, through her four years as justice minister and the past year as premier.

A quick analysis of the receipts offers a glimpse into the daily life of a top-level politician. They show a mix of relatively inexpensive meals along with a handful of much more costly bills, particularly when Redford has travelled on government business.

As premier, Redford has almost always flown in business class, including a $12,000 fare for a trip to China in June. That trip also saw Redford charge about $2,900 for an interpreter for three days of meetings and $1,280 for photos to be taken.

On an excursion to Washington, D.C., earlier in June, the premier had a $915 bill for one night’s stay in the Hay-Adams hotel.

There was also an expensive two-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. The premier ordered room service coffee at one point, which came to more than $22 with taxes and fees added on.

In November 2011, on her first trip as premier to the United States, Redford had a $565 bill for her stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, VA.

There was also an unused $648 room charge at Hotel Giraffe in New York that the province couldn’t cancel. A note on the expense form says, “Program change after hotel contract signed.”

The receipts show a handful of pricey meals, though also a large number of relatively inexpensive options, including several orders from the Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House on 101st Street in Edmonton and Nellie’s café in Calgary.

Another favourite breakfast spot for Redford has been the Harvest Room at the Hotel Macdonald.

She also had breakfast with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary in June. That meal cost $80 for four people.

The premier’s office said the expenses released Tuesday are being touted as an example of what is required of government ministers and senior officials under a new expense disclosure policy that came into effect Oct. 1.

Although Redford did not have to disclose any of the receipts prior to Oct. 1, a spokeswoman for the premier said she wanted to set an example for her colleagues to follow. Under the new policy, detailed receipts and expense forms must be made public.

There has been considerable focus on travel, hosting and meal bills charged to taxpayers in recent months following public outrage over lavish expenses submitted by former health executive Allaudin Merali.

The premier’s receipts released Tuesday do not include those from the Redford’s most recent mission to the London Olympics. However a basic travel report unveiled Monday showed the province lost nearly $114,000 on unused hotel rooms in London.

The province said the mission was scaled down from initial plans and the hotel could not resell the extra rooms that had been booked.


Questions for Readers:

Do you think Redford's receipts for travel, meal and other expenditures are accurate? Do you think her expenditures are reasonable?

Do you think there is a culture of entitlement via elected officials in Alberta?

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