Danielle In QP, November 22: Health Regions’ Expense Reporting

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Albertans deserve to have the truth, all of it, about this mess of illegal campaign donations, lavish health care expenses, and other failures and mistakes, but no matter what the problem the government has, they have a giant blind spot. Illegal donations to political parties: well, their new legislation won’t look back past 2010. Queue-jumping: well, the inquiry’s hands are tied; it can only look at whether preferential access is happening now. Health expenses: the minister shrugs and insists that everything is fine today. This is not raising the bar on openness and transparency. When will the Premier raise the bar?

Mr. Lukaszuk: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health will comment on matters within the health care system, but I can tell you that we have a bill on the floor right now that makes elections and election financing the most accountable in the country the moment we pass it. The Premier has raised the accountability on travel and hosting expenses, which are now the most stringent in all of the country, more stringent than the ones in the federal government. We will be releasing all expenditures of all ministers from the election as they have been appointed to cabinet to the public without having FOIP requests. We are setting the standard. It is time for them to catch up to it.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s a curious answer. If we look at just this one area, health expenses, we found huge issues with expenses in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Some of those involve the Premier’s sister and contributions to political parties. Is this the reason why the government refuses to release all the expenses of all of the executives of all of the health regions dating back to 2005?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, that was rather an extensive preamble, but I’ll do my best to address the issues that were raised within it. As we’ve said many times and as the hon. member is aware, this Premier has introduced the most aggressive, the strongest, most transparent travel and expense policy to be found anywhere in this country. The question of expenses that were claimed by previous health regions is not only, in fact, not relevant to the question of what the policies are today. The hon. member does a disservice to the people whose names she continues to raise in the Legislature because she ignores the fact that those expenses may very well have been in accordance with the policies that were in place at that time.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Going back to 2005, it’s always been illegal to take public money and contribute to political parties.

Over at the queue-jumping inquiry we’ve asked that Lynn Redford and other government relations executives from that time be compelled to testify. The Premier is shocked, says that we’re interfering, yet the inquiry people say that they are actually asking Albertans to participate. It is a public inquiry, after all. Now, I’m no lawyer, but if they ask you to participate and you do, that’s okay, right, Minister?

Mr. Horne: You know, Mr. Speaker, that absolutely is okay. But if I recall correctly, the hon. member’s question to me yesterday when she discussed her correspondence to the head of the inquiry, was if I would join her and her party in asking the commissioner of this inquiry to call specific witnesses before his panel. That would clearly be political interference, and that is something we will not do.