More information has been relvealed about controversial $1,000 monthly payments made to Alberta MLA’s for being members of a committee that has not met for three years. Retiring Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald revealed late last week that Premier Alison Redford was briefly a member of the committee while she served as Minister of Justice & Attorney General (though Premier Redford has no recollection). It was also revealed that Liberal leader Raj Sherman sat on the committee and collected the extra pay while he was a Progressive Conservative MLA.
Alberta MLA’s are allowed to collect extra pay for a maximum of $3,500. Some opposition MLA’s, like Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley, sit on four or five committees (and are only paid for three). Premier Redford told the Edmonton Sun that it would be up to individual MLA’s to choose whether they would return the extra pay.
Transcript of a meeting of the Privileges and Elections Committee from Monday, November 17, 2008 includes some interesting comments about the committee’s work by a three MLA’s who found themselves sitting in different political positions four years ago. Two-term Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor (now a PC MLA) questioned the need for the committee, five-term PC MLA Heather Forsyth (now a Wildrose Party MLA) defended the committee’s work, and rookie-PC MLA Dr. Sherman (now leader of the Liberal Party) expressed honour for being invited to join the committee.
Ms Pastoor: I think I just want to get on the record with a couple of comments. This committee hadn’t met for almost 20 years, and now we’ve met two or three times and probably won’t meet again. I just feel that a lot of the work that we did – and I’m not saying that it’s not good – in committee really was probably the responsibility of the two House leaders. Prior to this, I think both our House leaders and the leader of the third party as a part of that really did a fine job, so I’m still not exactly sure why we had the large meeting when, in fact, it was the responsibility of the House leaders.
Mrs. Forsyth: Just a comment to Bridget. I’ve been here since 1993, and this committee has been around, and I always questioned what it did. I felt the whole process very worth while. I liked the idea of the people who put together the new standing orders, et cetera, giving us, even though we didn’t win some of the battles, like I did, the opportunity to debate it and say why we support it. For example, I’ll go back. I thought it would be a good idea to have sessions in the morning. I got overwhelmingly defeated on that particular motion, but for me it was an extremely valuable process to be able to say that I was part of a committee that had the opportunity after 20 years to be able to set new rules in what’s going to be the future, hopefully for – I’m not going to say 20 years because I don’t assume that that’s going to happen. I mean, we all age.
People change. Things change.
Dr. Sherman: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As a new member it’s a good opportunity for the new members to learn, to see how the process works, and to sit across the table from our other colleagues. This is part of us working together. It’s been an honour for me to be here. Thank you, Mr. Chair. You’ve done a good job.