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Thursday, 21 March 2013 05:49

Politicians being selfless? It did actually happen

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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Some politicians have finally made a decision with which we can agree.

On Monday, elected officials with the Wildrose party — Alberta’s Official Opposition — announced they were creating a foundation which would see money donated to Alberta charities.
The Wildrose Caucus Foundation will be funded using the extra pay the MLAs receive as a result of a raise given to Alberta’s elected officials last year.
MLAs — mainly the Progressive Conservative ones anyway —  in the province increased their pay by eight per cent in November of last year. That means rather than the $145,000 they took home, it increased to $156,000.
Wildrose MLAs who disagreed with the pay increase, agreed to donate the extra money to a fund which will be used, according to their news release, “to make annual donations to charitable organizations that deliver services in priority areas such as health care, education and justice.”
The release continues to explain a committee of Wildrose MLAs will evaluate areas where the current government is failing to provide “adequate services” and make donations accordingly.
“We believe this money was never rightfully ours. We are simply giving it back to the front lines. We hope others decide to join us,” added Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith.
It’s noble this group of politicians wants to do something constructive with the extra money. Who else in Alberta received an eight per cent pay hike last year? Most residents were likely restricted to inflation, two or three per cent, while others have been asked to go without increases in compensation for the next three years (see Alberta teachers in latest contract offering).
That wasn’t the only noble move worth noting. Medicine Hat-Cypress Wildrose MLA Drew Barnes told the Medicine Hat News, he is one of only four MLAs not claiming for the cost of a second residence in Edmonton.
MLAs who live more than 60 kilometres from Edmonton are entitled to claim $1,930 for a second residence. It’s a lofty sum in anyone’s mind, as most rents wouldn’t even reach those heights. According to, the average rental rates on houses in Edmonton ranges from $822 for a one-bedroom to $1,571 for a three-bedroom. How many MLAs need a place with that many bedrooms for the short amount of time they are in Edmonton for legislature sittings?
Barnes has chosen to stay in a hotel when he is on government business in the province’s capital. He said he’s saving taxpayers about $15,000 so far. Until a week ago, MLAs could actually double dip in the system, charging the housing allowance and the cost of a hotel stay. That has now been limited to a maximum of $1,930 per month, which is more than generous, along with the $48.90 per day that can be charged for the cost of meals and incidentals.
It’s nice to see at least some politicians are concerned about the cost of doing government business and recognizing that it’s our money they sometimes spend so callously. Maybe there could be even more cost-savings in a provincial budget if every elected official looked at their expenses so closely and with the taxpayer in mind.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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