This lovely article was 100% lifted from last week’s edition of SEE Magazine.
“ON THE RECORD:
Immediately following the release of Justice John Gomery’s first report on the sponsorship scandal, Premier Ralph Klein said he would be tossed out for similar behaviour in Alberta.
“I would be hung,” Klein told reporters. The comment, coming from a politician who has publicly defended former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, drunkenly thrown money at the homeless, and given detractors the middle finger, raised more than a few eyebrows.
Klein isn’t the only member of his caucus with a colourful history. Conservative scandal gets public attention year after year, touching multiple cabinet portfolios, and tarnishing the most luminous Tories. Here are a few of the regime’s greatest hits from the last three years.
2005: Worst land deal deal ever
Earlier this year, ethics commissioner Donald Hamilton cleared Environment Minister Guy Boutilier of influencing an Alberta Social Housing Corporation decision to sell 231 acres of Fort McMurray land for affordable housing to the Timberlea Joint Venture Consortium. The consortium got the land at a price set for 158 acres. Not only was the deal sweet, but beneficiaries include Boutilier’s personal friend Tim Walsh, and other individuals who NDP critic Ray Martin says have contributed $14,000 to Boutilier’s campaigns since he became an MLA. To top things off, the $35,000 per acre price was based on 1990 land values. The government lost at least $2.5 million in potential revenue on the sale.
2004: Mar’s totally excellent misadventure
Alberta opposition leaders tore into Health Minister Gary Mar for awarding $400,000 worth of untendered contracts to his former executive assistant Kelly Charlebois. In a stunning parallel to the federal government’s sponsorship contracts, Mar had no record of any work performed by Charlebois for the money. Mar cancelled the contracts after considerable media attention, but the government never reformed their policy to allow contracts under $100,000 to
be awarded without tender, even if multiple contracts are awarded to one person or company over a short period of time. No reforms of contract tendering limits
came about in the wake of the fiasco, and Mar was allowed to keep his cabinet
2003: FOIP – Fuck Off, It’s Private
Just days before Christmas, Alberta Finance Minister Pat Nelson announced the settlement of a multi-million dollar legal dispute between West Edmonton Mall, Alberta Treasury Branches (ATB) and former ATB superintendent Elmer Leahy. Leahy had overseen the questionable approval of $353 million of loan guarantees for the financially troubled mall, and was later accused of accepting bribes to move the deal forward. Leahy turned the tables on his accusers at the ATB, swearing Ralph Klein, as economic development minister, ordered him to make the deal happen, along with then-deputy premier Ken Kowalski, and former treasurer Jim Dinning.
Then NDP leader Raj Pannu was steamed to discover details of the settlement were sealed in court. Subsequent Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) requests for information about the settlement were rejected. All documents had been given to the ATB, which enjoys an exemption from FOIP legislation. Government losses on the deal were never disclosed, although the ATB was reported to have estimated $115 million was sunk on the deal. Dinning is now a front-runner in the lurking Tory leadership race.”