EDMONTON, AB (August 17, 2012): The six-figure patronage post landed by former PC cabinet minister Evan Berger is more of the same old from a PC government entrenched in a culture of entitlement and corruption, Wildrose Deputy House Leader Shayne Saskiw said today.
Berger, who defended flawed legislation that attacks landowner rights and is lined up to collect almost $150,000 in a transition allowance, has been hired by his former Deputy Minister John Knapp as a “senior policy advisor” in Agriculture and Rural Development, just four months after he was in charge of the ministry. Knapp rewarded the posting without an open competitive process arguing that Berger had the “exact skill set needed.” The ethics commissioner, who was chair at Capital Health while Allaudin Meralli was billing taxpayers up to $350,000 in expenses, waived Berger from being in violation of conflict-of-interest legislation that restricts former ministers from postings in their former ministries within a one year time frame. “This is part of a well established pattern within the PC government and senior government officials of rewarding insiders and cronies and then waiving the rules when they get in the way,” Saskiw said. “They see themselves as above the law and entitled to draw from the taxpayer trough without any repercussions.” Saskiw went on to call for the ethics commissioner to release documents explaining how and why Berger was waived from this obvious conflict-of-interest. “This latest action by the ethics commissioner brings the whole office into disrepute. We have a case here where a former PC cabinet minister, who is still an active partisan for the PC party, getting hired by his former staff just a few months after the election yet he gets a free ride. This is rotten to the core,” Saskiw said. “Albertans deserve answers as to why PC insiders like Allaudin Meralli and Evan Berger keep landing plum government postings with complete disregard to the Alberta taxpayer.”