Danielle In QP, October 24: MLA Renumeration

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We need clarity on the government’s next cash grab for MLA pay increases. As you know, the Wildrose has opposed the increase, but we see evidence in public statements and public actions that the PCs want the taxpayers to fund all of their RRSP contributions, another $1,000 per month. Yesterday the Premier denied being involved in the effort, yet her government whip said that he misunderstood the directions he got from the Premier. Which is it? Does the Premier want to grab another $1,000 a month from taxpayers or not?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, I too have been listening to some of the comments in the press, and I think it’s a bit disingenuous of the Leader of the Opposition to talk about MLAs in that committee voting for a pay raise when, indeed, if you take away the transition allowance, it’s actually a substantial cut to MLA compensation in the province of Alberta, which we actually have been supporting, including reducing what came from the Major report. As you so eloquently put it yesterday, Mr. Speaker, this is a committee of the Legislature, a committee of all MLAs, and it should be more appropriately dealt with in that committee.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not talking about the committee. I am talking about the Premier’s public statements made in the media, which are about as clear as mud about what the government’s real intentions are. We think that they want to increase by $1,000 per month, put this in place as a replacement for the no-meet committee money. Will the Premier assure us, as she did with the transition allowance, that this $1,000-a-month idea will be killed?

Mr. Horner: Well, again, Mr. Speaker, this is a committee of the Legislature, not a government committee. The other thing that I think is a bit disingenuous, again, is the hon. Leader of the Opposition talking about what the committee might or might not be doing and then attributing it to the government.

This is a committee of the Legislature of Alberta. For a party that touts itself as being extremely democratic and protecting that, you would think they would protect the honour of this Assembly.

The Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m on that committee. I was at that meeting, and it did pass. Perhaps the hon. member would like to check the transcript. Since we can’t get a promise that they will scrub this 8 per cent increase in MLA pay, can the Premier explain how they can possibly enter into public-sector wage negotiations with that 8 per cent pay increase for MLAs out there?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, as a member of that committee I’m sure the hon. member is well aware that what is being proposed, as I understand it, not being a member of the committee, and what is being offered in the Legislature would be a substantial cut to the overall MLA compensation. It would be a lie to try to present it in any other way. I would suggest that that’s perhaps what is going on outside of this House. The ongoing negotiations that we have with the public sector: we’ve been very clear – at least I’ve been very clear in my position – where we’re going in the future on that. I’m sure it will be unfolded in the fullness of time.