As the UCP government tries to put the holiday travel scandal behind it, repercussions are still being felt. In the wake of the demotions of six Alberta MLAs, some are feeling the consequences more than others.
Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard became the unwitting face of the Christmas travel fiasco after CBC News reported Dec. 31 she travelled to Hawaii Dec. 19. Though premier Jason Kenney told Albertans in a New Year’s Day address the travelling MLAs and staffers would not be reprimanded, widespread public outrage had him turn an about face and demote Allard and others just three days later.
What has it cost her?
Aside from losing face over her decision to holiday in Hawaii while asking her constituents to stay home, Allard was removed from her cabinet post as minister of municipal affairs. With it, she will lose the $60,468 annual paycheque cabinet members receive; she will retain her annual salary of $120,936 as an MLA.
With many Albertans still calling for her and the other MLAs to be ousted, there is currently no recall legislation. Introducing such legislation was a campaign promise of Kenney, and though it has not materialized to date, a bill allowing such votes may soon be introduced. Kenney said during an online question-and-answer video last week on social media the government will introduce recall legislation “this upcoming winter session.”
MLAs Tanya Fir, Pat Rehn and Tany Yao were also stripped of their “committee responsibilities,” Jason Stephan was removed from the treasury board Jeremy Nixon resigned as parliamentary secretary.
Kenney’s chief of staff Jamie Huckabay resigned.
Nixon travelled to Hawaii, while Rehn and Yao went to Mexico, Fir visited Las Vegas, Stephan was in Arizona and Huckabay travelled to the United Kingdom.
Committee posts don’t come with additional salaries unless the MLA is chairperson, with an allowance of $200 per meeting, according to the Legislative Assembly. Fir, Rehn and Yao were committee members but not chairpersons.
Fir was on the democratic accountability committee, Yao was on the families and communities committee and Rehn was on the privileges and elections committee.
Additionally, Fir and Rehn were both on the resource stewardship committee, according to the Legislative Assembly’s website.
The upcoming recall legislation will be based on a report completed by Alberta’s select special democratic accountability committee in November, Kenney said.
The report suggests a recall petition will have 90 days to collect the necessary number of signatures.
According to the report, the threshold for signatures should be 40 per cent of eligible voters, mirroring British Columbia’s recall legislation.
The committee also recommended similar recall measures be available for municipal leaders and school board trustees.
If the legislation is passed and a recall petition is successful, there would be two votes, one to remove the official and a second to elect the successor.
Blaise Boehmer, Alberta Justice press secretary, declined to answer Town & Country News’ questions Monday as to when the legislation would take effect if passed.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News