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Smith to Redford cabinet ministers: Pay up

EDMONTON, AB (May 31, 2012): Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith today called on PC MLAs who received money from the committee that never met to pay the funds back – in full – and table the proof.  Smith called Redford out in Question Period for not living up to her election promise. 

On March 29, 2012, Redford stated that every PC elected would pay back the $1,000 a month they received but didn’t deserve and “any MLAs who do not will not have a place in my caucus.”  “Obviously that has not happened by the Premier’s own admission,” Smith said, noting that Redford said this week her MLAs would “make arrangements” to pay it back.  “They should not be allowed to sit in her caucus as they are doing right now,” Smith charged.  The Premier was away in Virginia at a conference – the second of four days she has missed in the very short sitting this week before the summer break. Since Redford could not provide the answers, Smith targeted questions at three cabinet members who sat on the “no-meet committee:” Associate Minister for Persons with Disabilities and MLA for Peace River Frank Oberle, Battle River-Wainwright MLA and Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, and Athabasca-Redwater MLA and Education Minister Jeff Johnson.  Smith asked each of them directly: “Have you paid back the money from the no meet committee in full and will you promise to table the proof?”  Johnson, who was in the House, and sat on the committee from April 2008 until February 2010 and therefore likely owes more than $20,000 – would not answer the question.  Johnson would not get up from his seat.  “I guess we can take that as a ‘No,’ Mr. Speaker,” Smith replied.  Griffiths, who said he sat on the committee for a month and a half – and would therefore have owed just $1,000 to $2,000, said he had paid the money back in full.  Oberle also claimed to have paid the money back in full.  Smith welcomed Oberle’s and Griffiths’ responses and called on them to table the proof.  BACKGROUNDER:  The following PC MLAs at one point sat on the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing, whose members collected $1,000 a month to sit on it even though it hadn’t met:  Jeff Johnson – Athabasca-Redwater George Rogers – Leduc-Beaumont Naresh Bhardwaj – Edmonton-Ellerslie Frank Oberle – Peace River Doug Griffiths – Battle River-Wainwright  Moe Amery – Calgary-East Pearl Calahasen – Lesser Slave Lake Alana DeLong – Calgary-Bow Genia Leskiw – Bonnyville-Cold Lake Bridget Pastoor – Lethbridge-East Dave Quest – Strathcona Gene Zwozdesky – Edmonton-Mill Creek