They do it because they can

“Interesting” is the word that best describes the latest United Conservative Party’s election carrot dangled in front of voters Feb. 17.

Leader Jason Kenney announced it was committed to … “reducing the premier’s salary by 10 per cent, and MLA salaries by five per cent.”

Savings are calculated to be about $1.6 million.

Of course, the long-winded news release – as most political news releases are – made sure to mention “a strong team that’s ready to lead” and “lead by example” and “new generation of leadership” and a bunch of other sugar-coating that when spread over manure, still leaves you with manure.

But, hey, they all do it!

Besides, we all know it is a ploy to try and get a few more votes.

What makes this so interesting is Big Lakes County councillors voted themselves a big raise Jan. 23. Each member of council gets another $350 a month pay, regardless of whether they do one more minute of work or not. Total cost to county taxpayers a year: $37,800.

Their excuse? A change in federal taxation laws that made a portion of their earnings that was tax exempt no longer applicable. Forget the fact none of their earnings should have been exempt in the first place. Perks like this are rampant all over, such as free trips to Halifax.

And, the Big Lakes council was more than willing to download the cost for their increased pay to – you guessed it! – the county taxpayers, and smile all the way to the bank. It’s like getting two free trips to Halifax in one year instead of one!

There was not an ounce of shame in taking even more tax money from their ratepayers despite how tough times are.

What we have here is the UCP saying it will lead by example and cut their pay.

“Albertans want a government that will restore fiscal responsibility to our province and that has to start at the top,” says Kenney.

But in the same province, in the same tough economic times, the county raises their pay.

Interesting, especially when you consider the county is always asking the provincial government for more money. Just who is broke?

Perhaps if the county can afford to give themselves raises, perhaps they don’t need more money from the provincial government?

Our story does not end here. On Oct. 6, 1993, something else occurred locally that adds a lot of spice to this story. In the history of local politics, it was the greatest day ever. Alberta was in a recession so what did I.D councillors do!

They unanimously voted to decrease their pay five per cent! That is not a misprint! Decrease!

Reeve Guy L’Heureux made the motion citing “as leaders of the community” they should take the cut.

The move came after Premier Ralph Klein and provincial government workers did the same.

It was 26 years ago. After the cut, councillors received $237.50 a month while the chairman took home $475. Today? The reeve rakes in $1,550 while the deputy reeve gets $1,250 and councillors $1,150.

Has your pay tripled in 26 years? Just asking!

The same day, High Prairie Roman Catholic School Separate School Division trustees voted to keep their pay the same.

It begs the answer to one simple question: where is the leadership today?

It would be nice to see the rural council show the leadership today we enjoyed in 1993.

Share this post

Post Comment