October 31, 2012
QP: CORRECTING THE RECORD: PCs wrong on 10/10 plan, whistleblower protection and infrastructure funding (again)
EDMONTON, AB (October 31, 2012): PC CLAIM: Responding to a question on handing out new tax powers to municipalities, Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said, “They talk about their 10/10 plan which will cut funding to municipalities by $400 million dollars up front.”
FACT: Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths should be careful not to pull numbers out of thin air. If the Wildrose 10/10 plan were in place it would create a total of $1.58 billion dollars for municipalities (based on 2011-12 revenues). PC spending in Budget 2012 on MSI Capital, MSI operating, Basic Municipal Transportation Grant, GreenTRIP, and Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program totals = $1.4 billion dollars. In the 2012 campaign Wildrose made it clear that all other municipal grants would remain the same, and therefore it is very clear that rather than a $400 million decrease, the 10-10 plan would generate about a $180 million increase for municipalities. Based on Budget 2012 estimates, 10% of this year’s tax revenues would generate an additional $210 million for municipalities were the 10-10 plan used for Budget 2013.
PC CLAIM: Responding to a question from Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth as to why the government’s new whistleblower legislation doesn’t apply prior to 2013, Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar said, “The fact is Mr. Speaker this new piece of legislation will allow the commissioner to go back and investigate for as long as he so wishes.”
FACT: Page 6 of the bill, Section 3 (2), clearly states: This Act applies only in respect of wrongdoings that occur after the coming into force of this Act. According to the government’s own news release, this won’t happen until June 1, 2013. Any wrongdoing that occurs before then is not covered by the protections of the Act. Also, according to Section 19(2): The Commisioner is not required to investigate a disclosure or, if an investigation has been initiated, may discontinue the investigation (a) If more than 2 years has passed since the date that the wrongdoing was discovered;
PC CLAIM: Asking why the new legislation does not fulfill Premier Alison Redford’s promise to provide protection for whistleblowers who go public for their information, Associate Minister for Accountability, Transparency and Transformation Don Scott responded, “This legislation does not restrict the whistleblower from going to any of those persons just mentioned; they can go to the media or anyone they wish.”
FACT: While it’s true that the legislation does not physically stop a whistleblower from going to the media, it offers no protection under the government’s proposed legislation. Part 2, Sections 9 and 10 only carve out a structure for whistleblowers to air complaints, however if any individual was frustrated by this process, they would have no formal protection stepping outside of it.
PC CLAIM: Responding to a question from a fellow PC Caucus member, the Finance and Treasury Board Minister Doug Horner attacked the Wildrose saying, “the Wildrose campaigned on cutting infrastructure by 25%.”
FACT: Despite the Wildrose correcting the record three times before on this issue, Finance and Treasury Board Minister Doug Horner continues to push through on his misguided talking points. The fact is the Wildrose has long advocated stretching out (not cutting) the capital plan an extra year in order to lessen the annual budgetary burden of infrastructure projects, Horner himself has advocated such an approach, and has been quoted as saying if energy prices don’t rebound, “capital spending plans can be deferred.”