Alberta Politics

return to the dome and inside baseball politics.

Alberta Legislative Assembly Building
Alberta's Legislative Assembly Building

With election withdrawal setting in like a bad hangover, much of the media attention this week focused on the 38 rookie MLA’s attending outgoing Speaker Ken Kowalski‘s Legislature 101 course and the resumption of inside baseball politics under the Dome.

Bridget Pastoor Alison Redford
Bridget Pastoor and Premier Alison Redford (photo from PremierofAlberta Flickr account)

Cabinet Speculation
Rumours abound about who might end up in Premier Redford’s new cabinet, which is expected to be appointed next week. While Tory stalwarts such as Dave Hancock, Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk, and Doug Griffiths are almost certainly in line to keep a spot at the cabinet table, the retirement and defeat of a number of Tory MLAs and cabinet minister may have opened spots for new faces at the table.

I will be watching to see if newly elected MLA’s Donna Kennedy-Glans, Ken Hughes, Ron Casey, Don Scott, and Maureen Kubinec, and former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor (who crossed the floor to the Tories in 2011) are appointed to the new cabinet.

MLA Pay Recommendations
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Major released his recommendations to reform how MLA’s are paid. Regardless of which recommendations are adopted, this is the type of issue that will never really go away (someone will always be displeased with how much or how little our elected officials are paid).

We ask (nay, demand) our public office holders to do their very best 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A $134,000 base salary does not seem unreasonable to me.

Gene Zwozdesky
Gene Zwozdesky

Electing a new Speaker
The first order of business when the Assembly convenes this Spring will be the election of a new Speaker for the first time since 1997. Candidates in the running include Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman and Tory MLA’s Gene ZwozdeskyWayne Cao, and Mary Anne Jablonski.

Premier’s new Chief of Staff
Premier Alison Redford appointed Calgary lawyer Farouk Adatia as her Chief of Staff. Mr. Adatia replaces Stephen Carter, who was temporarily replaced by Elan McDonald in March 2012 (Mr. Carter took a leave of absence to work on the PC Party campaign). Mr. Adatia was the unsuccessful PC candidate in Calgary-Shaw in the recent election and had previously attempted to win the PC nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood.

Wildrose Critics
The new Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus captured some earned media this week by releasing their list of critic positions. Leader Danielle Smith will take personal responsibility for “Cities” (i.e.: Calgary and Edmonton), where her party faired poorly during the recent election.

Mandel to Smith: Pick up the Phone
In the most bizarre story of the week, Ms. Smith told the media that she had asked Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to “broker a peace summit” between herself and Mayor Stephen Mandel. Over the past three years, the Calgary-based Ms. Smith has publicly opposed some high-profile decisions made by Edmonton City Council.

Mayor Mandel quite correctly responded to Ms. Smith’s “peace summit” comment by saying if she wanted to talk with him she could pick up the phone. One can only imagine how this relationship would have started if Ms. Smith had actually been elected Premier last week.

11 replies on “return to the dome and inside baseball politics.”

I accidentally deleted a comment from Dan. Here it is (or was, sorry Dan):

To be fair, Danielle Smith’s remark about needing Nenshi to “broker a peace summit” was a joke in the first place, according to a Wildrose party communications guy, Brock Harrison.

What is the status of the re-elected PC MLAs who Redford directed to pay back their salary from the committee?

“All PC MLAs will be expected to pay back every penny of money received from the committee that has not met since 2008. Any MLAs who do not will not have a place in our PC.”
– Premier Allison Redford, March 30, 2012

On April 20 media was reporting Pastoor had not re-paid and that she indicated that she is not able to pay it back.

Since the election, former WR MLA Hinman has backed down AGAIN from paying it back.

Paul: I’m not sure what the status of the repayments for the Privileges and Elections Standing Committee are. I imagine that Premier Redford will allow those MLAs to pay it back over a period of time (which is more reasonable than asking them to cut $40,000 or $50,000 cheques on the spot).

Calgary-Glenmore Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman originally said he didn’t owe any money, then he said he was wrong and would repay the funds, and then after he was defeated he said he would not repay.

I think $134,000 with 1/3 tax free is more than enough… and as John Major recommended a return to a pension of some sort. How did you to the figure of $160,000?

The idea that salary prevents qualified people from running for public office is fair enough but when the vast majority of us will never see $160,000 per year, it puts MLAs in a position where they really cannot feel what others are feeling… and if their job is to represent us, I don’t think it’s wise to compensate them to a point where that is unlikely.

Indeed, it is a tough question.

Just a quick note that $134,000 is taking the 1/3 tax free portion into account. The actual number is lower but works out to $134,000 equivalent because of the tax free portion.

It becomes close to the$160000 all in- transisition allowance ( yes it is still there but less generous but more than private industry) and the gold plated pension. Hope this recommendation gets the hatchet. The ” old” pension plan killed 19 years ago still has a $43 million liability. The world is going away from defined pension plans- talk about walking in the past!
We will have the highest paid MLAs in the country, and each MLA has a smaller constituency than BC or ONT, and much much less than a federal MP – not surprising in a province that has the highest per capita health care and education costs, and one of the highest paid civil service!
Spending problem? I think so.

I think it’s hilarious that Global News treated the “peace summit” comment as though it were meant to be serious. I guess a sense of humour bypass is a prerequisite to being involved in Alberta journalism.

For the speaker’s chair, Wayne Cao would be a natural pick. Dave Hancock would be the best in terms of institutional memory, but he will most likely be in cabinet. Jonathan Denis of Calgary-Egmont would be another to consider. He’s a lawyer and would have good cross party appeal on the right. Neil Brown from Calgary-Nose Hill another lawyer would also have some good cross party appeal, though his resume may be more suited to the Environment portfolio.

What’s the word on post-election staffing changes beyond Adatia (in any of the parties)?

Good thing the MLAs will have Brian Mason standing up and demanding they not have to pay more income tax – because they will only be earning $134,000 (unlike the dastardly Liberals who want a new tax bracket at $100,000).

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