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Selling the fleet long overdue, time to start real crack down on government travel: Wildrose

CALGARY, AB (September 16, 2014): Selling the provincial air fleet meets the bare minimum of the tough uphill challenge Premier Jim Prentice faces in taking on his scandal plagued PC government while more needs to be done to crack down on the culture of entitlement surrounding government travel, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

The Wildrose was the first to call to get rid of the provincial fleet, standing firmly on the side of taxpayers.  In the most recent Auditor General report on government travel, it was noted the planes come at a cost of an extra $3.9 million.

 “We are pleased to see the government do the right thing for taxpayers and sell the air fleet,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said.  "However, this was the right thing to do six months ago. It seems as though this is something the PC government has done with reluctance rather than something they've done out of conviction or principle.  If Mr. Prentice is serious about addressing the culture of entitlement, he will need to take a firmer stand on government travel and send the message that no minister is above the standards Albertans expect.”

Members of Prentice’s cabinet stood by silently while government planes were repeatedly misused.  His new Finance Minister Robin Campbell used the planes over 100 times last year alone, while Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale used the government planes to attend a partisan PC fundraiser in Grande Prairie.

“Mr. Prentice had a chance to send a message that ministers with a history of spending abuse would be held account. Instead, he gave them a spot at the table.  He has shown he is just more of the same,” Smith said.

Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said little from today’s announcement indicates the pattern of abuse by cabinet ministers or senior government staff has come to an end.

“Albertans have told us they will no longer tolerate the gross abuse of their dollars.  It is time for the inexcusable misuse of taxpayers' dollars for unjustifiable travel expenses to come to an end, and that means putting meaningful measures in place to make this happen," Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said. “If the new Premier and his Cabinet are serious about addressing the PC's entitled attitude on government travel, they will do more than just the bare minimum of what Albertans expect."