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Ethics Commissioner report an indictment against Education Minister: Saskiw

EDMONTON, AB (January 6, 2015): new report from the Ethics Commissioner is a political indictment against  Education Minister Gordon Dirks after he approved a modular in his riding ahead of other schools to benefit his own personal political interest, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said today.

The report levelled no sanctions, however the Ethics Commissioner ruled that Minister Dirks’ actions showed, “it was a specific political issue that he used his office to resolve in his favour,” and would have advised the minister “not to make decisions on specific issues in his constituency during the by-election.”

Saskiw said the report shows clearly the PC government was using government resources to benefit their candidate during an election season.

“While this did not violate the letter of the law, it’s clear the actions by the minister to choose a modular for William Reid over other schools higher in the priority list was done to benefit his own political interests,” Saskiw said. “This is an indictment on the actions of this minister, and he owes an explanation to the parents and students whose schools got put on the backburner as a result.”

The Ethics Commissioner found this decision was outside of “the normal approval process” and seems “to have been done for purely political reasons.”

In the fall, the PC government voted down a Wildrose amendment to the Accountability Act that would ban government announcements during an election campaign, similar to legislation in other Canadian provinces.

Saskiw said this is exactly the reason why the Wildrose has pushed for the government to come up with and publish a public prioritized infrastructure list.

“We need to stop playing politics for vital services such as extra classroom space for students across the province,” Saskiw said.  “The need for new schools should never be behold to the political interests of any sitting politician.”