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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

apparently accountability is overrated.

I spent part of my afternoon yesterday hanging out at the Alberta Legislature including a trip to Question Period. Props to my MLA, Dr. Raj Pannu, for the kind introduction to the Assembly.

I was really disappointed that Lyle Oberg, the newly Indepenent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, didn't show up to sit in his brand new seat behind Alberta Alliance MLA Paul Hinman.

Aside from my Oberg disappointment, I did get to watch the following interaction between Calgary Currie Liberal MLA Dave Taylor and Deputy Premier Shirley McClellan highlights one of the main differences between the Alberta's Conservative Government and their Tory cousins in Ottawa.

Government Accountability

Mr. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today the federal Conservatives in Ottawa are introducing a bill to improve government accountability and openness, but the Conservative government of Alberta refuses to do the same for the people of this province. Alberta has a system of grants, contracts, and land sales that’s out of control, no mechanism to bring it under control, and a taxpayerfunded propaganda bureau to continuously remind citizens to just keep moving, that there’s nothing to see here. My questions are to the Deputy Premier. Will she support an all-party legislative committee to make recommendations to strengthen the statutory authority of the Auditor General so that he can follow the money to the end recipients?

Mrs. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, there’s absolutely no need to do that because the Auditor General today has that authority. The Auditor General in this province is an officer of this Legislature, and he has the authority to follow the money right to the end and, in fact, has done so on a number of occasions. So I think the question is quite redundant.

Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, he doesn’t have the same authority as the federal Auditor General.

Again to the Deputy Premier: given the clear failure of this government to protect whistle-
blowers at the Alberta Securities Commission from retribution, when will this government introduce legislated whistle-blower protection for public-sector employees?

Mrs. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, in reference to the Alberta Securities Commission and whistle-blower rulings, that has already been done and has been in place for some time now. As far as an overall government policy we’ve made it very clear over and over and over again that no one who brings forward a valid concern will have any adverse repercussions at all.

The Speaker: The hon. member.

Mr. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Deputy Premier: when the feds are cracking down on the lobbying industry, why is this government allowing it to flourish behind closed doors? Why won’t she acknowledge a problem exists?

Mrs. McClellan: Well, Mr. Speaker, a rather obtuse question at best. However, whatever he might be referring to, contributions that are made to political parties here are a matter of public record if that’s the part he’s talking about.

Mr. Taylor: I’m talking about lobbyists.

Mrs. McClellan: People that come to meet ministers in ministers’ offices: that’s an occurrence. I suppose you could suggest that everyone who passes these doors, whether they come to see the opposition or the government or the third party or the fourth, et cetera, would be a lobbyist. I’m not sure exactly what he’s framing the word “ lobbyist” around.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that there is no behind closed doors as far as we’re concerned. People who come into our offices are met. They usually discuss matters of mutual interest but certainly matters of interest to them, and I would be against anything that would preclude the public from coming and meeting with government to express their interests or their concerns.
So, I guess the answer is: It's none of Albertan's business which lobbyists are taking Ministers out for lobster and martini's.

9 comments:

Jim said...

Dave Taylor has a great voice.

BR said...

Dave Taylor does, indeed, have a great voice.

I just wish he'd use it for good rather than evil.

Allie said...

I agree with comments about the voice of Dave Taylor - heavenly - but can't they come up with some questions that really matter?

Oh and where would the Liberal and NDP movements be without lobbyists?

michael in calgary said...

"Oh and where would the Liberal and NDP movements be without lobbyists?"

yet they seem to be the only ones concerned with that pesky thing called "accountablility." funny how that works.

Jim said...

I just wish he'd use it for good rather than evil.

You didn't see his action figure, I guess. The one with the anti-lobbyist kung-fu action?

Allie said...

Dave Taylor: Will she support an all-party legislative committee to make recommendations to strengthen the statutory authority of the Auditor General so that he can follow the money to the end recipients?

Mrs. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, there’s absolutely no need to do that because the Auditor General today has that authority. The Auditor General in this province is an officer of this Legislature, and he has the authority to follow the money right to the end and, in fact, has done so on a number of occasions.


Is it just me or is thisa similiar to the conversations I have with my preteens when they come up with a great idea but don't want to believe it's already being done? Is it no wonder when I visit QP that I come away thinking that the Opposition is stupid?

If the system, process and authority is already in place - use it don't waste Albertan's money making a new system, process to give someone who already has the authority the authority to do what you want them to do. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of money Liberals and Dippers want to spend. They want to spend it even when it's already being spent by someone else. It's like spending envy or something.

Here's an idea. If you think something is questionable, go and ask the Auditor General to look into it.

Here's another idea... why not have the people who write their questions for QP actually focus on something that will bring about some good benefits for Albertans? I know it doesn't make for good entertainment in QP and might not always have the Govt on the defensive (and the questions wouldn't have a chance at being covered in the press), but they might actually contribute!

bryan said...

I thought it was a great question. I'm sure Tories like Allie would love for the opposition to ask fluffy questions like "Minister, what did you eat for lunch?" or "Mr. Premier, why are you so good?"

But fortunatly, the world outside the Alberta Tory bubble is one where accountibility is rhetoric and transparency takes the form of a declined FOIPP request.

bryan said...

ha, I meant "unfortunatly."

I guess I was in the Tory bubble for too long. Not anymore!

Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid there be some sort of accountablility and openess in Alberta.

These drunks have been in power for too long and are probably hiding something bigger than adscam behind those closed doors! just wait - you will see!