alberta, where the lobbyists roam.

Rod Love, former Chief of Staff to Tory Premier Ralph Klein is currently sharing the centre of some controversy with well-known scandal prone former-Tory Staffer Kelley Charlebois, who were both the focus of debate in the Alberta Legislature yesterday following the Calgary Herald’s release of documents regarding payment Misters Love and Charlebois received from the Calgary Health Region.

The best part of the debate was when Klein claimed to Alberta Liberal leader Kevin Taft that he didn’t know Love was deeply involved in Jim Dinning‘s PC Leadership campaign. Given that Klein and Love have been close friends since Klein’s first Calgary Mayoral campaign in 1980, I find that quite hard to believe.

Was Premier Klein blowing smoke? Read the debate and decide for yourself…

Rod Love Consulting Inc.

Dr. Taft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier’s former chief of staff Rod Love seems to make his living selling access to the Premier’s office. FOIPed documents show that Love has moved freely from government contract to government contract, providing inside information through high-priced verbal advice. It’s a moneymaking scheme at the taxpayers’ expense. To the Premier: will the Premier admit that Rod Love is doing little more in these contracts than selling inside access to the Premier’s office?

Mr. Klein: Mr. Speaker, first of all, to set the record straight – straight, absolutely straight – Rod Love hasn’t had access to my office, and he doesn’t use his consulting business to gain access to my office. He was my chief of staff, yes, absolutely. But his contracts with various government departments or health authorities are entirely up to the ministries or the health authority involved. It has absolutely nothing to do with my office. It has had nothing to do with my office.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Dr. Taft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Premier: does the Premier recognize that Rod Love is peddling inside information obtained while serving as the Premier’s chief of staff?

Mr. Klein: I have no idea what information he is providing to the various ministries or authorities, whether it’s information he gained while in my office, which is very little, by the way – usually the opposition tells me what’s going on – or whether he’s providing other information. I have no idea, nor do I make it my business.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Dr. Taft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Premier assure this House that Rod Love is not sharing confidential government information with clients, such as PC leadership candidate Jim Dinning?

Mr. Klein: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea. I didn’t even know that he was working for Jim Dinning. [ interjection] I didn’t. They can moan and groan all they want. Relative to the leadership campaign my policy is hands off, and I don’t give a tinker’s hoot who he works for.

Here’s the second part of the debate surrounding Charlebois’ involvement with the Calgary Health Authority…

Lobbyist Registry

Dr. Taft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. High-paid contracts to people like Rod Love and Kelley Charlebois are merely symptoms of a much deeper problem. This government’s sense of entitlement is so pervasive that it’s no longer capable of even identifying a conflict of interest: the Premier is fielding job offers while in office; a Tory Party VP sits on the government’s Internal Audit Committee; chairs of government committees use their positions to sell PC Party memberships; ex-MLAs get plum appointments. It goes on and on.

To the Premier: why does the Premier insist that Albertans don’t have a right to know who’s lobbying this government by his refusal to create a lobbyist registry?

Mr. Klein: Mr. Speaker, to set the record straight: again, I have no problems – I have no problems – with a lobbyist registry. I have said that for every upside there is a downside, and I want to make sure that when the Legislature considers a lobbyist registry, they consider the downside and they clearly identify those who are lobbyists and those who are not lobbyists. Now, I’ve raised the question: if a person who represents a school board or a university or a municipality is asking the government for money, are they lobbyists? I want to make sure that I know that the rules are clear.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Dr. Taft: Thank you. Again to the Premier: given that the Premier’s former chief of staff Rod Love signed on to a juicy contract with the Calgary health region very shortly after leaving his position with the Premier’s office, will the Premier commit to extending the legislative Conflicts of Interest Act to senior public officials?

Mr. Klein: I don’t know if I have the power to do that. I understand that a report on conflict of interest guidelines by the all- party committee that examined this issue will be coming to the Legislature, and I suspect that it will be fully debated in these Chambers.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Dr. Taft: Thank you. Again to the Premier: given that the federal Conservatives are proposing a five-year cooling-off period for ministers, will the Premier commit to extending the mandatory cooling-off period to a minimum of one year for Alberta’s cabinet

Mr. Klein: Mr. Speaker, I have told the hon. Leader of the Official Opposition that I don’t give a tinker’s hoot whether it’s 10 or 15 or 20 or 30 years. I’m leaving. I’ve said that all I want is to have time to do what I want to do and time to golf and fish. Big deal.

Tinker’s hoot, eh?

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