Alberta Politics

PC MLAs follow Prentice command to cut Auditor General budget

Progressive Conservative MLAs sitting on the Standing Committee for Legislative Offices voted last week to deny a request from Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff to reinstate more than $200,000 in funding cut in Dec. 2014. At the same committee meeting, MLAs voted to reinstated more than $500,000 in funding previously cut from the Office of the Auditor General.

Jim Prentice Premier Alberta
Jim Prentice

Sending a strong message that he just might not trust his party’s MLAs to act unsupervised, Premier Jim Prentice held a press conference shortly after the vote and publicly ordered his PC MLAs to backtrack on their decision to reinstate the Auditor General funding. This move served to redirect the public focus from cuts to the Child and Youth Advocate and on the cuts to the Auditor General.

Mr. Prentice’s directive removes the thin veneer of “committee independence.” It was always assumed that PC MLAs received their marching orders from the Premier’s Office, but typically those types of dispatches are sent from the 3rd floor before the committee meetings, not after the votes have already been counted.

Matt Jeneroux MLA Edmonton South West
Matt Jeneroux

Responding to his new orders, committee chairman Matt Jeneroux hastily scheduled a meeting for this week, allowing the PC MLAs to change their minds and vote how Mr. Prentice directed them to.

Not one of the Progressive Conservative MLAs on the committee, including former Wildrose MLAs Gary Bikman and Jeff Wilson, had the fortitude to defend the decision they made last week. Only NDP MLA David Eggen and Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman voted against the funding cut.

And now, because of Mr. Prentice’s orders, both the Auditor General and Child and Youth Advocate will face budget cuts this year.

Dave Hancock MLA Edmonton-Whitemud
Dave Hancock

Looking past the thick-rhetoric of “tough economic times,” the Office of the Auditor General is probably the last office of the Legislature that should have its funding cut. As Mr. Prentice and Finance Minister Robin Campbell plan to impose a 9% across the board budget cut, the Auditor General should have the funding available to audit the financial statements and the systems of government.

Last year, Auditor General Merwan Saher released a damning report into former Premier Alison Redford‘s misuse of government aircraft. The public outrage generated by that report forced former Premier Dave Hancock to request an R.C.M.P. investigation into Ms. Redford’s activities.

Jonathan Denis MLA Calgary Acadia
Jonathan Denis

With an election expected within weeks, the 43-year long governing PCs are likely cautious of any further scandals or critiques that a fully-funded Auditor General could uncover.

This is not the first time the PCs have cut funding to the Auditor General.

In 2009, then-Auditor General Fred Dunn announced the delay or cancellation of 27 out of 80 planned system and financial audits due to lack of financial resources. At the time, backbench PC MLA Jonathan Denis (now Justice Minister) was quoted as justifying the lack of funding to the Auditor General by defending that year’s one-year MLA pay freeze. [editor’s note: Alberta is always in tough economic times]

The 2009 funding cut came soon after Mr. Dunn’s office reported the PC Government kept quiet for 3 years about reports showing the province could bring in more than $1 billion in additional royalties each year without harming industry, that a former PC cabinet minister and his top aide charged nearly $50,000 in personal expenses to their government credit cards, and that the PC government’s poor planning left it with a maintenance backlog of roughly $6.1 billion.

Raj Sherman MLA
Raj Sherman
Raj Sherman is back

Only weeks after resigning as Liberal leader and announcing his retirement as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark, Raj Sherman has been hired by the Liberal Party the campaign manager for the 2015 election campaign. It is unclear why interim leader David Swann has hired his predecessor, or what real campaign management experience the retiring politician brings to the table. Truly bizarre.

9 replies on “PC MLAs follow Prentice command to cut Auditor General budget”

It occurs to me maybe the whole point of this funding cut is to get at least one of the scheduled audits canceled. It’d be interesting to see what was up for audit. Maybe it’s a door to a closet with a few skeletons in it?

The Auditor-General, the Child Advocate, and Chief Electoral Officer, among others, are not Government officials, but independent officers of the Legislature, or at least they’re supposed to be. As such, the Executive Council ought not to have any control over their activities, authority or budget. Instead, the Legislative Assembly, as delegated to the Committee on Legislative Offices, has that control. These are fundamental principles of our Westminster-style parliamentary system of government. And yet, Vladimir Prentice waves his wand and orders the Committee to do his bidding. This is an affront to the independence of the Legislature and of these legislative officers.

Like Putin’s Russia, or PRI-era Mexico, Alberta has all of the forms of a democracy, but none of its substance. No effective Opposition; no independent legislative branch; no independent control or oversight of the public purse. Remember Charles Stuart, aka Charles I, whose head was separated from his body as a result of these sorts of actions in England back in the 17th century? When will Alberta have its own Glorious Revolution? When will we once again have true democracy? Who will be Alberta’s Oliver Cromwell?

So what is the point of having all those PC MLA’s sitting on committees if they are there to take commands from the Premier and not actually consider things? It seems they have now been reduced to being spineless jelly fish or if you prefer trained seals.

Perhaps the expense that really should be cut is the needless expense of having all those PC MLA’s sit on committee’s. Seeing as the Premier seems to have made up his mind as to what to do, we can do away with the expensive pretense of independent officers and committees and just have the Premier sit on all the committee as the sole PC representative, so he can more effectively just tell it what to do. It would save us a lot of money and be a lot more honest.

Young Mr. Generoux missed an opportunity to set him self apart from the crowd and be his own man. Having seen him a few times on Question Period, you would think he was a rising star, but this last fiasco makes the entire committee look like a bunch of brainless, gutless, compliant, chickensxt, backpeddaling ‘yes sir’ drones.

Looks like most young politicians join this as a lucrative career and dont care about the public, tax dollars or voters.

Mr.Generoux needs to realize Albertans are fedup with stupid compliant mla drones. We want real leaders that embrace democracy and have the bxlls and courage to do the right thing with even something this simple. Bunch of eunuchs.

These committee members, are disappointing, all dazzle and flash, but no substance.

Melas have taken a 5% pay cut. The least the auditor general can do is live within his budget, which is 4.5 times the budget of Ontario’s auditor per person. Let’s stop the hyper partisanship and stick to the facts.

Matt Jeneroux, according to his own bio, got his U of A Arts degree in 2004, which IMO did not prepare him for dealing with a bullying boss, or a breach of ethics, as a rookie MLA.

Apparently he worked with the not-for-profit sector before becoming an MLA, so one can only assume there is a head spinning difference in his remuneration, as a 30 something year old politician.

Quoting the late Jack Layton …..hashtag FAIL!

The MLA’s took a 5% cut, so the auditor general should be happy his budget stays the same… it’s about fairness.

Liz, the pee sees love compliant nutless, gutless, underqualified, underachieving types as mla’s they never have the balls or the brains to question or challenge the party or its leader and ministers. When you understand that, you understand why every empty headed pee see mla votes like a lemming to serve their party first, not albertans.

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