EDMONTON, AB (October 23, 2012): The PC government should follow the lead of voters in Livingstone-Macleod and give defeated cabinet minister Evan Berger the boot, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said today.
In Question Period today, Saskiw asked the government to turf Berger after the scandal surrounding his controversial hiring came to light during the summer. In August, it was revealed Berger, who lost to Wildrose MLA Pat Stier, was handed a senior, six-figure government job in his former department (Agriculture) without an open competition or even a job description. Berger himself earlier this summer admitted that he wasn’t sure what exactly he would be doing. Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson later cleared the hiring, saying Berger’s hire was justified because he is part of the “government family.” “This past summer we saw this government is more interested in padding the wallets of their ‘government family’ than fixing the real fiscal mess they’ve put us in,” Saskiw said in the Legislature. “Evan Berger, after getting turfed by the voters of Livingstone-Macleod, was rewarded with a fat six figure patronage appointment. Not only does this fly in the face of our ethics legislation, it is wrong and reeks of cronyism. Wildrose believes in accountability. Will this government do the right thing and, like the voters in his own area, turf Evan Berger?” Not only did the government defend the Berger hiring, an Assembly debate on the matter was denied later in the afternoon. “The government is clearly trying to sweep this issue under the rug, but we will continue to press for answers,” Saskiw said. “Albertans remain outraged that PC insiders continue to get preferential treatment and taxpayer perks from this government.” Saskiw and Wildrose MLA Jeff Wilson will sit on a newly created conflict of interest review committee that will review Alberta’s conflict of interest laws.