ALBERTA PC’s ACCUSED OF CRAFTING PHONEY LAWS, SECRET LAWS AND BAD LAWS.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean accused the governing Tories on Tuesday of passing “phoney laws, secret laws and bad laws,” but Premier Jim Prentice later fired back at what he called “strange accusations.”
Jean claims the Progressive Conservative government has passed 56 laws that have never been proclaimed — including the 2012 Education Act — and that it has hidden nearly $6 million from ministerial spending disclosure reports.
While former premier Alison Redford was touting her new “gold standard” expense disclosure policy in 2012, her government quietly introduced a rule that enabled cabinet ministers and senior department officials to avoid disclosing the amount they spent on food and non-alcoholic beverages during meetings with staff, Jean told reporters in front of the legislature.
“The PCs actually created a new expense category and kept it secret from Albertans so the gold standard of disclosure was actually the gold standard of hiding,” said the former federal Conservative MP from Fort McMurray.
“Albertans have been deceived by a government that pretended to be transparent. This must end.”
“I am not sure where it came from. It predates me as the premier and I don’t think we need it,” said Prentice.
He noted one of his first steps as premier after being sworn into office last fall was to put in place an accountability act that provides for full transparency of his government, his office and his colleagues.
“I stand by those decisions, and all of our expenses are transparent and fully available for public scrutiny,” he said.
Prentice said not all laws passed by government are immediately proclaimed because accompanying regulations have to be drafted and that often involves consultation with stakeholders.
“In some of the legislation that’s been referred to, there are conflicts with the federal Criminal Code that need to be examined, and so legislation is proclaimed once all of those matters are attended to,” he added.
The list of laws that haven’t been fully proclaimed, which was provided by the Wildrose, detailed a number that dated back more than a decade, including one amendment act passed in 2001.
More recent legislation awaiting proclamation included the 2013 Flavoured Tobacco Products Amendment Act and the 2010 Workers’ Compensation (Firefighters) Amendment Act.
Mike Storeshaw, a spokesman for the PC campaign, said consultation on the regulations accompanying the Education Act held up proclamation of that law, but it is expected to be proclaimed and in force for the school year in September.
But Storeshaw rejected suggestions the government passes secret laws, noting all decisions of cabinet are routinely published on a government website.
“The notion that some sort of secret legislation takes place is just nonsense,” he said.
But Jean said the PC government has never been more entitled and secretive than it is today and Albertans have never been more jaded about their politicians.
He said his party, if elected May 5, will give the independent officers of the legislature — like the ethics commissioner and the auditor general — more teeth, and will pass laws to ban floor-crossings and enable citizens to recall poor-performing MLAs.
by Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal
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