Alberta Politics

Redford’s top advisor earns more than Obama’s top advisor, claims Wildrose

Leo McGarry West Wing Alison Redford Farouk Adatia Salary Pay
“Mr. President, I think we need to renegotiate my salary,” said West Wing chief of staff Leo McGarry upon discovering he earns less than Alison Redford’s chief of staff.

Premier Alison Redford‘s chief of staff earns a bigger salary than his counterpart in the West Wing, claimed the official opposition Wildrose in a press release yesterday.

As the salary disclosure “sunshine list” of Alberta’s senior public servants who earn more than $100,000 annually was released late last week, opposition critics honed in on Ms. Redford’s senior staff. The Wildrose opposition targeted the salary of chief of staff Farouk Adatia, whose annual salary was $316,274.69 in 2013, according to the disclosure list.

Wildrose Alberta West Wing
The infographic released by the Wildrose Official Opposition caucus.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith trotted out  numbers showing that Mr. Adatia is paid nearly double the salary of American President Barack Obama‘s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, who earned $172,200 in 2013. In Mr. McDonough’s defence, this is a pitifully low salary for someone in such a senior government role.

Also on the Wildrose hit list was Ms. Redford’s director of communications, Stefan Baranski, who earned $207,829 in 2013, compared to the $179,311 earned by his predecessor in 2012.

While Mr. Adatia and Mr. Baranski may have fairly negotiated their salaries and benefits, it adds to the growing public perception that Ms. Redford is woefully out of touch with the reality faced by ordinary Albertans.

These salary increases in Ms. Redford’s inner circle occurred at the same time as the government is negotiating forcing pay freezes on many frontline public sector employees. The same frontline workers are facing government-imposed changes to their pension plans, which could drastically impact their retirement security.

A political response to a political problem
The government’s salary disclosure list is a political response to last year’s outcry over the more than $2,000,000 in severance packages that had been paid to former senior staff in Ms. Redford’s office, including  $130,000 in severance paid to former chief of staff, Stephen Carter (Mr. Carter released the amount in a tweet after Ms. Redford refused to answer media question about his severance package).

Sunshine on the CTF
The “sunshine list” has been long advocated for by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, whose Alberta director, Derek Fildebrandt, was somewhat ironically quoted alongside transparency minister Don Scott in the original government press release announcing the salary disclosure. The CTF is an organization that could use a sunshine of its own. While always available for a snappy quote or photo-worthy media stunt, the six-member lobby group  closely guards its own list of financial bankrollers, which continues to remain secret.

13 replies on “Redford’s top advisor earns more than Obama’s top advisor, claims Wildrose”

The CTF should disclose its own salaries, absolutely. Those who are in glass houses should not throw stones.

But the same goes with the union. How much goes Guy Smith make? What is he hiding?

Rich salaries for her cronies, $45000 trips to South Africa, +$200,000 round the world trips to India and Switerland (and almost Afghanistan) and IT’S ONLY FEBRUARY. What else does Redford have in store for Alberta taxpayers in 2014?

To put all this into additional perspective, the White House Chief of Staff’s boss, POTUS, makes a paltry $400,000/year; of course, he also gets to live in a cool house, so those dollars might stretch a bit further; however, he still needs to maintain his home residence for when he leaves office, so maybe not that much further.

Her own public employees are treated like slaves and not given salary increases for 6 out of 7 years, but they sure take care of themselves, don’t they.

[…] February 4, 2014Uncategorizedadmin The Redford government is threatening pay freezes for the next two years for front-line workers. These workers are seeing their pension security jeopardized as well. Premier Redford’s inner circle rakes in huge salaries – in some cases almost twice as much as the president of the United States’ staff  for the same work. That’s not the Alberta Way. Read the full story at […]

I’d like to know if this is really an apples-to-apples comparison. The Alberta government’s sunshine list is supposed to include the value of ALL of the employee benefits – including pensions. If they’re comparing a base salary to a total compensation package then the comparison is not very useful.

Personally, I would be willing to take a HUGE discount in what I could earn just to be at the epicentre of the Executive Branch of the US government. Not only are you working where decisions are much more significant than they are in Alberta, you’re also making a lot of connections with some pretty powerful “movers and shakers”.

I would be curious to see a comparison of what opportunities an Albertan chief of staff has access to AFTER being CoS compared to the US CoS; I’m willing to wager that the US one does a lot better afterwards.

Maybe someone can clear up the logistics for me, but his salary presumably comes out of a set office budget the Premier receives, right?

If that’s the case, it really doesn’t impact taxpayers – it’s Redford’s perogative to decide if she wants to pay her COS 350k, or hire someone for half that and bring on a few junior staffers.

That said, it’s definitely bad optics, given the Mandela funeral bill.

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