Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And the beat goes on.....Oink, Oink

Is it just me or do our elected officials at times seem to be suffering from memory loss or possibly even dementia?

Just two days ago I posted an article about 21 Alberta MLA's who have been lining their pockets to the tune of $1000 a month for sitting on a Legislative committee that hasn't met in the last 39 months. The article was aptly titled Like pigs they head straight to the trough.... Well, this particular incident of pork barreling appears to have annoyed the public at large more than the regular gouging of the taxpayer that our elected officials participate in on a daily basis. It's the talk of the town, featured on the nightly news, in newspapers, and on talk radio everyday. It has actually gotten so bad that Alberta's Premier, Alison Redford addressed it personally from out of the country last week.

Last Thursday Premier Redford who was in New York conducted an interview with the Calgary Herald in which she stated that she was unaware that 21 government and opposition provincial representatives have been paid $1,000 a month - a total of $261,000 annually - to sit on a committee that hasn't met since 2008.
"I did not know," Premier Redford stated. She continued by saying the situation with the committee "wasn't something that connected to me at all. But it's not right."

Now lets jump forward a day to Friday when speaking with reporters the Premier went on to say that the fact provincial representatives were paid to sit on a committee that doesn't meet was "a ridiculous situation." "It isn't the way that Albertans want politicians to be paid," she said. "It's why I asked for an independent panel to look at how everyone in the legislature is being paid."

Now before we go any further just so I am clear on this, the Premier has called a panel to look into a committee? Wasn't enough financial damage done by the first committee, I guess not as she feels it necessary to form a second one and pay them as well. Although I suspect there is a deeper and more thought out reason for forming an "independent panel" to look into the payroll issue. Such a committee will make recommendations for changes moving forward, they will not make judgement or access any blame on individuals based on how they were paid within the guidelines previously. This will further support the MLA's who were paid for serving on, but never attending the The Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing. After they were simply being paid under the guidelines that existed at the time, they did nothing wrong. Whereas, if the Premier were to take a strong a stand on the issue, agree that it is wrong, and insist on immediate rule changes she will have to by default answer questions about the integrity and honesty of the MLA's involved.

So why is this something she would rather avoid? Well the most obvious answer is that it is making the governing party look bad, something that is not desirable for her in an election year. However, if you dig deeper there is another issue that I suspect worries our Premier equally.

Lets look at two distinct statements from Premier Redford in last Thursdays Calgary Herald interview;
"I did not know," and "wasn't something that connected to me at all. But it's not right."

Now, lets jump to Fridays and Premier Redford's comments to reporters; "a ridiculous situation."

Now heres a bombshell, according to the official record of the Legislative Assembly, Hansard, Redford who at the time was an MLA was appointed  through a motion in the legislature to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing on Oct. 28, 2009. A committee that she left in February 2010. Redford included the committee in the statement she was required to file listing all payments to provincial representatives for the year ending March 31, 2010.

During 2010 however Redford received $39,047 for sitting on four other committees as well, including Treasury Board, Agenda and Priorities, the Government Legislative Review Committee and the all-Tory Cabinet Policy Committee on Public Safety. I wonder where she ever found time to actually do the job she was elected for. In fact during 2010 she served as Justice Minister, a position that one would think would leave little if any time for anything else. Apparently that was not the case, or maybe she just needed to supplement her income, after all from what is being revealed these committees tend to pay pretty good but don't really require a "big" commitment of time for those sitting on them.

On Friday when asked why Redford publicly stated earlier (just days prior) she did not know about the committee and its lack of activity, Jay O'Neill the Premiers spokesman stated : "When she says she didn't remember it is probably because it (the committee) never met. She would have had other priorities going on. A committee like this was probably the last thing on her mind," Jay, your kidding right?

Now this isn't the first indication that we have seen that Alison is not always 100% forthcoming in how she conducts politics, there is still the issue of how she won the job initially. Something we addressed in
New Premier, But its politics as usual in Alberta back in October of 2011.

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