The accusations against members of municipal councils and their staff are nothing more than a drive-by smear and the fact that the Wildrose Alliance (WRA) has fooled the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) into recycling their inaccurate personal attacks is disgusting (‘This is corruption’ in County of Stettler, Derek Fildebrandt, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Nov. 13, Stettler Independent).
First of all, anyone that hasn’t taken a personal call or sent a personal email or text during working hours, please take a bow. I expect if you start a club, the meetings will be very small.
The fact that the WRA made FOIP requests for any contributions to PC functions and email exchanges between myself, employees and council members from all local rural and many urban municipalities should be telling in itself.
Here is another fact. Elections investigations for the last three years found one, yes one, contribution from the Town of Oyen for just over $200 and it had been refunded by the constituency association, before any accusations had been made.
This witch hunt has cost many thousands of dollars and found nothing. The fact that many of those levelling these accusations were card-carrying PC members when these donations were supposed to have taken place is also telling.
That practice changed long before the last election and I expect that all parties accepted donations from groups that were at least in part publicly funded.
That’s history and what I think your readers will find more interesting is what these dedicated local community leaders and their staff have been doing since funding from public bodies was discontinued.
As an example, I will point out a wonderful young community member, who was targeted in the posted CTF column, Shawna Benson, whose background includes recipient of Premier Ralph Klein’s 4-H member award of excellence. This amazing young lady was a dedicated volunteer for our last three years of fund raising events. What we raised during all of these years, by partnering with local societies, helped many young people in our communities.
The last fundraiser raised $10,000 for the Heartland Youth Centre in Stettler. Heartland does great work with after-school programs for local youth, as well as many other programs.
The year before that, we were able to raise close to $17,000 for Drumheller area Special Olympic athletes. These wonderful young people helped us with putting contests and made the day great for all of our guests.
The year before that, we raised $10,000 for Kid Sport in Hanna to help underprivileged youth take part in sports. These donations were not publicized, because our volunteers were not doing it for the glory, they were doing it for the community. No one released that information, did they?
The CTF column also stated that as municipal affairs minister, I was expected to favour local municipalities because of their donations. First of all, I was never municipal affairs minister, and secondly, I have tried to use the influence I had as your elected representative to positively influence decisions for my local municipalities for over 20 years. I thought that was the point, not to attack them and their employees for political gain.
The crime is not the young and older people that are getting involved in the democratic process; it’s the ones that don’t get involved. I just want to thank the many dedicated community members that worked with me over the years to support these wonderful organizations.
They also teach these young people that bullying is wrong, for any reason, including politics. They also worked very hard with me over the years to secure funding for everything from seniors lodges, schools, recreation centres and hospitals to new fire halls. Thank you. You have made your communities a better place to live, work and raise your families.
former MLA, Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Infrastructure and Tourism, Parks and Recreation