EDMONTON, AB (August 8, 2014): After Auditor General Merwan Saher released his report yesterday, Finance Minister Doug Horner has come under fire for his role in the repeated abuses of Alberta government aircraft by several PC government ministers, MLAs and staff.
Yesterday, the Wildrose Official Opposition called for his resignation given his clear connection to the use of government planes. Here are five reasons why Doug Horner must resign in the wake of Saher’s damning report:
1] He was in charge of the government air fleet when it was abused
Mr. Saher quoted the Air Transportation Service’s policy in his report. The policy “requires all requests for use of the government aircraft be subject to approval by the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance or persons authorized by the minister.” [pg. 28]
Later on during his media availability, Mr. Saher explicitly stated Mr. Horner bears responsibility for the use of the planes.
This means Mr. Horner either personally or through someone he hand-picked approved each and every improper flight, or his office failed to provide the oversight they are obliged to provide on how the planes were used. Neither option means he’s qualified to keep the job.
2] He refuses to take responsibility for his failures
Despite the Auditor General explicitly referencing the Finance Minister as the person in charge of the planes, Mr. Horner continues to deny that he’s responsible for them.
The fact the Mr. Horner either doesn’t know or is in denial about what his responsibilities are shows he is unfit to continue as Finance Minister.
3] He is shifting blame to others for his own mistakes and oversights
Not only is Mr. Horner ducking responsibility for the use of aircraft, he is falsely claiming his cabinet colleagues are responsible for the flights on government aircraft.
While it’s probably true PC cabinet ministers made several requests for government aircraft that ran didn’t qualify as legitimate government business, it was Mr. Horner’s ultimate responsibility to ensure each and every flight complied with the rules.
By shifting the blame onto others for something that was clearly his responsibility, Mr. Horner shows yet again why he can’t be trusted in this role.
4] He didn’t even know when the planes were being used
Responding to pointed media questions about how the planes were approved for flights to partisan PC fundraisers like PC leaders’ dinners, Mr. Horner denied ever being aware of the flights being booked.
That Mr. Horner “had no way of knowing” how planes went to PC fundraisers does not let him off the hook for the fact they did. It is his job to know where the planes are going. If he has neglected to do his job to the point that he doesn’t even know when planes are used, he is obviously ill-suited to continue on in the job.
5] He misled Albertans about how the air fleet is used
On March 12, responding to questions from Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith on specific use of the government aircraft to Grande Prairie on Oct. 25, 2012, Mr. Horner insisted the planes were used for legitimate government business despite the fact the PCs held a large fundraiser in Grande Prairie that night.
In his report, Mr. Saher concluded that was one three instances in which the planes were used specifically for partisan purposes with no legitimate government involved. [p. 27]
However, in the Legislature, Mr. Horner said the exact opposite. Watch:
Any minister who gives false information in the Legislature, where the province’s elected representatives hold the government to account, shouldn’t be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of being in cabinet.