Danielle In QP, October 31: MLA Remuneration

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is trying to trick Albertans, but the doubling of RRSPs is no treat for taxpayers. The government proposes to double the amount of taxpayer money going to MLA RRSPs, adding $1,000 a month to MLA pay, an 8 per cent increase. Does the Premier really expect us to believe that there have been no caucus discussions or directions from her on how government members should vote on this issue?

Ms Redford: Mr. Speaker, what I expect Albertans to have confidence in . . .

Speaker’s Ruling
Questions about Legislative Committee Proceedings

The Speaker: Hon. Premier, excuse me for a moment. Could I just remind all members of the House and this member who just questioned, in particular, about 411 again? Beauchesne’s 411 specifically states that a question may not “seek information about proceedings in a committee which has not yet made its report to the House.” [interjections] Hang on. Hang on.

Furthermore, House of Commons Procedures and Practice, page 506, states, “When a question has been asked about a committee’s proceedings, Speakers have encouraged Members to rephrase their questions.” Member for Airdrie, we’ve noted your point of order and a point of order from the Government House Leader as well.

Mr. Mason: And from me as well, please, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker: And a point of order from the hon. leader of the ND Party. Thank you. Hon. Member for Airdrie, you were asking?

Mr. Anderson: Just a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker, under Standing Order 13. The opposition leader is asking a question of the Premier on what her position is: is she instructing her caucus to do something? Does that not comply with Beauchesne’s?

The Speaker: Hon. member, I’ll comment more fully at the end of question period to clarify it for you, but anything to do with MLA compensation and pay is an issue for a committee called the Members’ Services Committee, which two of your members sit on. As such, they have before them consideration of MLA compensation. It’s a cautionary reminder. That’s all.

Hon. Premier, you had the floor. Please proceed.

Ms Redford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last fall and during my leadership bid I made a point of ensuring that we were going to have a transparent process put in place with independent advice with respect to how MLA compensation should be structured. After I became leader of our party and became Premier, we asked for that review to be done, and we were fortunate enough to have a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr. Justice Jack Major, provide us with that report and detail. My understanding is that between decisions that government has made and decisions that the committee will make, we will have a full response to that. 

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the Premier had no problem talking about transition allowances in the direction she gave to her MLAs. Given that the RRSP increase amounts to an 8 per cent jump in MLA pay and given that the Alberta Teachers’ Association is being told by government that it’s trying to stick to a 1 per cent increase this year, doesn’t the Premier see that an 8 per cent pay increase for MLAs sends the wrong message to our public-sector unions?

The Speaker: Again, hon. member, please, let’s understand that the committee is reviewing this matter right now, in general, about RRSPs, about pensions, about compensation and has not yet brought its report forward.

Hon. leader, please proceed with your third and final.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, we are asking for a moratorium on discussions about MLA compensation until the budget is balanced. Will the Premier at least agree with me today that this is the right thing to do so that her people can feel free to support our motion?

The Speaker: Thank you.