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Alberta Politics

ken kowalski chooses retirement over death in office.

Ken Kowalski Speaker Alberta MLA
Retiring Speaker Ken Kowalski

He once told Albertans that he would “die in office” rather than retire and collect his gold plated severance package, but this week Speaker Ken Kowalski opted for retirement instead of the afterlife. The long-time MLA announced yesterday in a letter to the Progressive Conservative Party that he would not be seeking re-election in the Spring 2012 provincial election. He was in August 2011.

Speaker Kowalski is the longest serving MLA in the Assembly and was first elected in a 1979 by-election in the Barrhead constituency. His absence will undoubtably lead to a hotly contested PC nomination in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Hoping to capture the seat from the Tories is Wildrose candidate and former Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield, who has been on the hustings for more than a year.

Upon his retirement, Speaker Kowalski is expected to collect $1,271,600 in transition allowance, and it is suspected that he may also collect $54,000 per year from the now-defunct MLA pension that was dissolved in 1992. His retirement announcement takes place before a review of MLA salaries and benefits, led by retired Justice John Major, can take place.

This MLA pay review initiated by Premier Alison Redford may succeed in forcing generational change in the PC caucus by prompting the retirement of a number of stodgy former Tory cabinet ministers, including Sherwood Park MLA Iris Evans, Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Mel Knight, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Lloyd Snelgrove, Banff-Cochrance MLA Janis Tarchuk, and current Finance Minister and Calgary-West MLA Ron Liepert.

12 replies on “ken kowalski chooses retirement over death in office.”

I hope you meant he may collect $54,000/year not $54,000/month…

It’s clear that Kowalski has either done the math and realized what a claw back in severance could mean for him, or has seen numbers showing that he’ll lose to the Wildrose in the next election and he doesn’t want to face the embarrassment.

I hope changes to severance are made before the next election, so guys like Kowalski who think they’re taking advantage of the situation lose out.

I highly doubt that Byfield has a hope in heck of getting elected regardless of who runs for the PC party. Doing the math likely has made the decision fairly easy for some of the retiring MLA’s. Ty Lund seems to be a hold out, no announcement from him yet.

I don’t like the PCs or Kowalski in particular, but I think it’s the height of naivety to assume that his decision has much to do with either his chances (he would win in a landslide, history proves that) or his retirement funds. The man has served nine terms in office and decided to enjoy whatever time he has left in retirement. Only in politics would bystanders manufacture reasons for a 66 year old man to retire from a career he has held for over thirty years. Don’t try to make someone’s departure fit your narrative, not everything should be subject to spin.

Thanks for the comment, Neal. I don’t seriously believe that he is retiring because of the money, though I am sure it will be nice. 33 years in political office is more than most people would be able to last. Kowalski is leaving on his own accord.

This said, I do believe that Redford’s selection as PC leader is convincing some of these older PC MLAs that perhaps it is time for them to move along and allow some new blood to flow into their party.

Good riddance – he’s exactly what a Speaker shouldn’t be; arrogant, partisan, biased, abusive and reeks of South Ole’ Boys politics.

Neil, you may think it’s naive to think his retirement funds had anything to do with it, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable assumption when two months ago he was seeking reelection, but suddenly when changes to severance are being sought he changes his mind. Maybe it’s coincidence but I wouldn’t say it’s naive.

From Big 105 FM Radio news in Red Deer:
“Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Ty Lund wants to take one more run at Alberta politics. Lund was first elected in 1989 and says he wants to be a candidate in the next provincial election. He says Alberta is “at a crossroads” as it works towards moving the oil and gas, forestry, agriculture and tourism industries forward. Before he starts campaigning though Lund will have to win the Tory nomination from challenger Jimmy Clarke at an upcoming meeting.”

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