Monday, February 11, 2013

"Leading by example" Premier Redford's history on MLA compensation.

This past Thursday the Premier announced, on Twitter no less, that MLA pay and their housing allowance would be frozen. Ignoring the fact that this type of thing is decided by what is supposedly an independent committee who Redford has said of in the past that it was NOT her "role to direct the members of the committee to do anything.", which is not in the least bit true as you will see in examples below, the PC spin team are trying to play this as 'leading by example'. So ignore the impropriety of  announcing on Twitter what a committee would do in the future and lets concentrate on Redford's record on MLA compensation and leading by example.

Elected in March 2008 and in cabinet when the PC's, in a closed door cabinet meeting, gave themselves a 34% wage increase where Redford's salary went up $42,000, to $184,000, and the Premier's by $54,000, to $213,450 (making Stelmach the highest paid Premier in Canada). This raise coming just months after MLAs gave themselves a 4.7% increase in their pay.

Leading by example: There is no record of Redford speaking out against either pay increase.

Resigned from cabinet in Feb 2011 but continued to accept her MLA pay cheque while running for the PCAA leadership which she won in Oct 2011 and was subsequently sworn in as Alberta's 14th Premier a week later.

The Justice Major report. In January 2012 retired Supreme Court Justice Major began his review of MLA compensation which would be presented to the Legislature in early May 2012, conveniently timed for after the provincial election. While an independent look into pay and perks should be considered a good move, Redford's handling of it was just the opposite.

 Leading by example:  Redford: "I’m not going to dither. What he says, will go. Whatever Jack Major says is what we’re going to do. I’ve been very clear on that." Without having any idea what the report contained Redford is on the record numerous times saying that she would "implement the Major Report recommendations on MLA compensation" sight unseen (who does that?) and even went so far as to chastise the other leaders in the televised leaders debate for questioning the idea of implementing a report which nobody had any idea of what was written in it.  

And what happened when the report did come out? Redford did in fact dither and she did not accept all the recommendations, doing exactly what she promised numerous times that she wouldn't do.  Also of note the government did say they were going to implement recommendation # 15 of the report but it turns out that too was just another broken promise and MLA's will continue to set their own pay in the future.


The no-meet committee (NMC). Perhaps the best example of Redford's poor record on the MLA compensation file was her dismal handling and multiple flip flops during the infamous no-meet committee fiasco where MLAs were paid thousands for being on a committee which had not met in 39 months.

Leading by example:
March 8: Story breaks and the public is outraged while Redford claims that she "was unaware" of the situation.

March 9: It is revealed that Redford sat on that very committee.

March 11: Redford says "It's a personal decision." if PC MLAs want to refund the money or not.

March 12: Redford calls opposition MLAs returning pay from the NMC a "convenient stunt to try and polarize an issue".

March 20: PC MLAs under fire from the public say they will return 6 months of NMC pay. Questioned why only 6 months worth, Redford replies "I can't revisit the past,"

March 26: The writ dropped and the election called.

March 27: Redford tries some revisionary history and says: "And I say again, I was the first person to identify (the committee) as an issue, and as soon as I became leader I took steps to correct it." (see 'unaware' March 8th)

March 29: Under immense public pressure and with the election possibly in the balance Redford finally does the right thing and orders PC MLAs to return all of the NMC money or be removed from the PC caucus: “Any MLAs who do not, will not have a place in our Progressive Conservative caucus,

Sept 25?: The PC caucus passes the hat to collect the remaining money owed from the NMC. Meaning that at least some of the 39 PC MLAs who were ordered to repay the NMC cash did not do so as it required 61 PC caucus members to pay $2,700 each to cover the short fall. Contrary to Redford's promise no PC MLA was ever removed from caucus for not delivering on Redford's flip flop promise.
(related blog posts with links)

Transition pay & RRSPs: In spite of promising an end to transition pay for MLA's during the election, a motion to bring it back was put forward at the Member Services Committee (MSC) by the PC Party whip Steve Young (For those who do not know it is the party whips job to make sure that party MLAs follow the party line) who clearly tweeted that his motions in committee were done on behalf of the PC caucus! Leading by example!

Links: Alberta MLAs move to enrich retirement pay.    Alberta Tories revisit transition allowance.
Links from after the fallout: Young says he misunderstood Premiers marching ordersWhip back peddles.
Tories scrap new transition allowance.

Remember in the first paragraph where I quoted Redford saying it was not her role to tell the Member Services Committee (who decide compensation) anything?  If that was true why on earth would the PC members on the 'independent' MSC withdraw their motion which all 6 of them voted in favour of  and had spoken out in favour of (see links) immediately after Redford said it was a non starter? So much for independence and please ignore how Young tweeted that his motions were that of the PC caucus because if you don't it makes the rest of the PC spin pretty much unbelievable.   In the end the transition pay motion was made to dissapear (it had too as the public would have none of it) but you and I as taxpayers will now pay 100% for MLA RRSP's up from the previous 50%.

A pay freeze after a pay raise. While it was a prudent move to freeze MLA pay it would have been better if Redford (or the independent, ya right, MSC) had done so before they raised MLA compensation in November 2012.

Now I know the PC's will swear up and down that they had a pay cut but the fact is that after the 2012 election MLA compensation was $145,000/yr ( $134K salary + $11K in RRSPs) per the Major report recommendations accepted by the MSC but was raised to $156,000/yr ($134K salary + 22K in RRSPs) in November 2012.  To use any other base figure purposely ignores Redford's election campaign promises which every PCs ran on to end committee pay transition allowances. They won running on those promises so now to use them to claim a pay cut is disingenuous at the very least.  I half expect some PC spin doctor to claim the Premier Redford has taken a 1 million dollar pay cut because that is what former Premier Stelmach received in transition pay and which Redford now cannot. It is the same flawed reasoning which the PCs use daily to claim that the poor dears actually received a pay cut.  Ridiculous but that is how Redford and the PCs lead by example.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Busted: CTV Edits tape of Senator Brazeau.

CTV News has been caught editing an audio clip of Senator Patrick Brazeau that it used for a story on the Jan 31st edition of CTV National news, and it isn't the first time that CTV has been caught selectively editing either.

CTV denies editing the audio: “CTV News was supplied the audio recording in question by Metroland Media Group. CTV News made no alterations to the audio that was provided,”

But in what must be only a 'coincidence' the 1st segment of the Jan 31st CTV National News, which the story appeared in, has been sent down the memory hole and is not available to be viewed. Oddly enough the remaining segments are available.

APTN has both the actual audio and the edited CTV version here. (updated: link went 404 so video was added to protect all involved.)

It is obvious that the CTV version of the audio has been edited as pauses, crowd laughter and almost a complete sentence, "And I'm sorry, I am not a comedian but" is completely missing from the CTV audio.

This is not the first time either: From the archives: CTVGATE: CTV cuts 2 seconds out Ignatieff's answer.

And there is this: CTV News gets caught again.

Good work CTV.

Updated: BC Blue on the edited audio.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Tone deaf: Alberta PC Party does not want to repay illegal donations.

The executive director of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta saying perhaps the most tone deaf and arrogant statements I have ever heard from a political party. "We're of the mind, as a party, not to repay the voluntary amounts," & "Repaying the money does us no good in the court of public opinion" (You can listen to the words yourself at this link at approx the 2 min mark) All in regards to Alberta's Chief Electoral Officers recent disclosure that the PC party was found to have accepted 45 illegal donations. ( The tip of the iceberg)

Think about that for a minute. The Alberta PC Party does not want to pay back the money that was given to them illegally, as determined by the CEO of Alberta, and they believe that the Alberta public does not care if they do pay back their ill gotten gains.

I am almost speechless as it seems that the PCs have not learned any lessons at all from their handling of the no-meet committee fiasco of last year where the Premier was forced into multiple flip flops due to very obvious public outrage on the matter.

Of course it matters; only a fool would believe that it didn't.

Updated: The PC spin that they were unaware of the donations takes a nose dive.

(Metro) Leaders of the two municipalities named in a new report as having made the largest amount of illegal, “indirect” contributions to the Progressive Conservative party say party officials advised them at the time they were doing nothing wrong.

Mayor Bill Robertson of the Town of Okotoks: “They knew what was going and they were saying, ‘Oh yeah, you can do it that way, because it’s legal,’” he said. “And it turns out it wasn’t legal.”

Foothills Reeve Larry Spilak told a similar story: “Absolutely, it was from the party,” he said. “The message that was sent to our council and our administration was that this was allowed and consequently we went ahead with it.”

More here from the National Post on how municipalities felt pressure to donate to the PC party.

Calgary Herald: "the PCs are ready to fight an election with illegal contributions."

Business as usual in Alberta. At least until 2016 when we get another chance to show the Alberta PC's that in the court of public opinion, ethics do indeed matter.

From the archives: Many more examples of illegal PC donations can be found here.

From the CBC: How the PC party not only accepted an illegal donation but also orchestrated it from the inside!   Tell me again how 'they didn't know'?