Jason Kenney slashes own salary by 10 percent—MLA salaries by 5 percent
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.”
The United Conservative Party (UCP) appears to be preparing for a fight for increased autonomy with the Trudeau government.
In their first annual meeting, members voted on through informal straw polls on a series of issues aimed at getting a “fair deal” from the Trudeau government.
From the province’s potential tax collection agency to the police force, trade relationships, pension plan, and firearms watchdog, members voted in large groups to support autonomy and further pull away from Ottawa.
A panel weighing those ideas is to complete its report by March 31.
“We are not seeking a special deal. We are simply seeking a fair deal,” Premier Jason Kenney told party faithful.
While not backing the secession movement, Wexit, the move to fight for autonomy is not surprising. Polls have placed Alberta’s desire to potentially declare independence close to if not higher than the separatist-prone province of Quebec.
The leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pascal Berube, has attacked Jason Kenney and his UCP in an opinion piece in the Calgary Herald.
In the article, Berube declared that Kenney was lying to Albertans about Albertan taxes paying for Quebec’s social infrastructure. Berube claimed that Kenney’s statements were “simply not true.”
Berube also took time to rebut Kenney’s indignation over equalization payments—an issue that Kenney will put to a referendum. Berube said that equalization payments were calculated based on the province’s ability to generate tax revenue, and thus “Albertans should not complain about paying for any of Quebec’s social programs. It simply is not true.”
Berube went on to say that “Alberta is a bigger spender than its leaders would like you to believe … Alberta is not some libertarian’s dream, as some would like you to believe. The province is a perfect example of ‘big government.’”
By saying this, Berube has labeled Kenney and the UCP as hypocritical and manipulative.
What was more piercing, however, was when Berube attacked Kenney directly, suggesting that Kenney was “looking for someone or something to blame for his gigantic fiscal deficit.”
Berube went on to say that “Albertans need to realize that their leaders have let them down … he will seal his place as the proud heir of past leaders who drove Alberta to the brink of the fiscal precipice where it now finds itself.”
Berube’s attack is the latest incident in a war of words between the two provinces. Previously, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and CAQ leader Francois Legault had criticized Kenney and the Wexit movement. Blanchet, for example, has also disputed Kenney’s equalization claims, declaring that Alberta doesn’t “send a cheque to Quebec.”
Blanchet has also ridiculed the broad sentiment of alienation in the western province, stating that “the desire to do whatever they want with their oil might not be a sufficient reason to fuel a desire to become a country.”
A public art display in Montreal’s downtown core has drawn the ire of residents who believe the city’s spending is irresponsible.
According to Director Quebec of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Renaud Brossard, that $800,000 figure “is as much as the property taxes of 192 Montreal families.”
The bridge, which is used commonly in the summer months to sit on as it’s placed in a city square, has gotten harsh criticism from those in the Western provinces, as many feel it’s a wasteful way to spend $800,000.
This, though, isn’t confined to Montreal. Edmonton, Alberta recently coughed up a hefty $1 million towards a public art display.
The province of Alberta has been entirely rat-free for almost 70 years. Although rats, quite obviously, meander into the province, they never stay long enough to breed, according to the National Post.
Rats are not native to North America, migrating on wooden ships to the New World from Europe, along with their fellow European puritanicals and imperialists. Unlike humans, however, it took the species a significant amount of time to move inland—not reaching Alberta until the 1950s.
Rats are hardly optimal immigrants and they certainly wouldn’t pass Kellie Leitch’s values test. Alberta executed a planned eradication of rat-kind in the summer of 1950: creating a sabre-rattling, propaganda division and employing Albertans to kill of the critters, using whatever methods they deemed necessary.
To this day, there are still no rats in the province. If a rat is spotted in the province, it is every Albertan’s duty to call up the exterminators and to alert the officials.
Throughout history, rats have wreaked havoc upon civilized, bipedal society. Take, for instance, the island of Hawaii, where rodents have destroyed the natural eco-system.
In Europe, rats were believed to have spread the bubonic plague, despite the disease actually being spread by the fleas that lived on them.