Premier Kenney announces the release of Alberta fiscal report amid talks of public sector cuts
Yesterday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that his government will release the blue-ribbon panel’s findings on Alberta’s fiscal situation early September.
Kenney divulged that he expects the panel, chaired by Former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon, to show that Alberta’s financial position continues to worsen.
On Tuesday, the Alberta provincial government made good on its promise to cut the pay of MLAs by 5 percent in addition to a 10 percent cut in the pay of the premier.
“An all-party member services committee agreed unanimously Tuesday to cut all elected members pay by five percent, with an extra five percent cut to the salary of Premier Jason Kenney,” reports Global News.
These cuts come as a result of Jason Kenney’s campaign promise to cut government salaries—a promise he has now made good on, but one which many believed was delayed.
The campaign promise was supported by most United Conservative members, but also by members of other parties, including opposition NDP members.
Before the cut, Kenney was earning $206,856. He’s now making $186,170, while annual salaries for MLAs have gone down from $127,296 to $120,931.
“Committee member Thomas Dang, NDP MLA for Edmonton South, said he and his caucus colleagues will support the motion. But he thinks the move is Kenney’s way of setting the stage for what could be coming this fall,” reports CBC.
“I think really what he’s doing by trying to introduce MLA pay cuts is to set up a larger cut that’s going to be for our public sector jobs and workers,” Dang said.
Kenney has denied that cuts will be coming for public sector workers, but this hasn’t stopped Dang from voicing his concerns.
“Suggesting to cut the pay of politicians a few hundred dollars a month to give them licence to screw over the working people of Alberta is frankly ridiculous,” Dang said at the meeting.
Things only got more heated from there, with other committee members voicing their concerns and taking not-so-subtle, cross-table jabs at their political opponents.
“The pay debate sparked a larger cross-table partisan scrap over Kenney’s handling of the economy,” reports Global News. “The NDP accused the UCP of failing to do its job by delaying key decisions on school and social program funding until after an independent panel reports next week on the state of Alberta’s finances.”
Other concerns were in line with Dang’s.
Many of the committee members believe this salary cut is ultimately insignificant and merely a means of pandering to voters in the future. This is because, even with the reduced salary, Albertan MLAs are still the highest paid in the country, with the next in line being Ontario’s MPPs.
In response, UCP member for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche Laila Goodridge called Dang’s suggestion “one of the most cynical motions I’ve seen in my time in politics. It is absolutely ridiculous.”
“Right now, Alberta is in some difficult times,” she added. “So, by taking a pay cut, it’s not symbolic that we’re saying public service is going to be also taking a pay cut, we’re simply saying that we’re going to be doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”
Edmonton police are investigating the tagging of a lawn with a large spray-painted swastika.
“Shirley Smith told CTV Edmonton that she was appalled when she saw the white swastika near Northgate Centre,” reports CTV News and The Canadian Press.
Police say that a number of similar investigations are in the works and that the Nazi symbol could be grounds for hate crime charges.
According to CTV News, six graffiti swastikas have been spray-painted around the neighbourhood over a very short period last Thursday, as well as several racist and homophobic slurs that were painted on public property. This will make the seventh.
“Hatred has no place in our city and I want to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any expression of hatred and bigotry,” says Ward 5 councillor Sarah Hamilton.
“No matter what language we speak, where we were born or what we believe, we all want the same things for ourselves and our families.”
The EPS Hate Crimes Unit has since been consulted and police are investigating.
An anti-hate rally has since been planned and is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday outside a Jewish school where one of the swastikas was painted, reports CBC.
“Silence cannot be a response to hate, you have to oppose it,” said Edmonton-McClung MLA Lorne Dach in an interview Monday. “Otherwise people feel they have permission to continue, and it grows. So we have to nip it in the bud.”
Disclosure: Devin Dreeshen is the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Alberta and the Minister of Agriculture
Given the challenges Alberta’s farmers face right now, I didn’t expect to spend part of my week fighting with a former celebrity lifeguard about rodeo safety. But there’s much less demand for Pamela Anderson to go bounding down the beach these days, so she must get publicity where she can—and she chose to attack the Calgary Stampede.
The Alberta oil industry has long been a target of celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda and Neil Young. With the war on meat kicking into high gear, our farmers are now in their sights as well.
If these folks wanted to make the world a better place, it would be easy to start where they live. Oil jacks litter urban Los Angeles with not a protester in sight. The homeless of Skid Row are a short drive from their mansions—but who wants to get their hands dirty helping real people who don’t get you headlines?
Alberta seems a safe and distant target for stars to attack—generating news with little effort and even less risk. If they ever need to venture here for some media shots, we have comfortable hotels, nice restaurants, and wide clean roads for their air-conditioned SUVs to travel. The impact on the lives of our ranchers and oil workers doesn’t register for them.
We need to change that. We need to fight back. Making sure our province isn’t an easy target is what our government’s fightback strategy is all about.
Our government plans to push back against seductive lies where we see them. But it is up to the public to do their part as well. Social media has turned a megaphone into a two-way conversation—and one where thousands of Albertans can call out people who try and get ahead by attacking our livelihoods and our reputations.
We can stick together and support each other. Celebrities do what they do to make money. Don’t give it to them—let’s help each other. It has been decades since Pamela Anderson had a successful movie or show—but if a miracle happened and she did, give it a pass and save your money. Spend it next year at the Calgary Stampede.
Long-serving Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai passed away last night. Obhrai was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer just weeks before. Surrounded by his family, Obhrai passed away peacefully.
The Obhrai family released a statement today expressing their shock and gratitude to his many supporters:
Obhrai was a beloved figure in the Conservative community, and condolences are being expressed from coast to coast.
Obhrai had served as the MP for the Calgary – Forest Lawn riding since 1997. Family, friends, and colleagues are all shocked by his sudden departure.