The definition of political entitlement

Last week Alberta taxpayers learned that while the Alberta government had been publicly boasting about its new “rigorous” policy of...

accountability and expense disclosure, behind the scenes, the truth was being hidden.

The government insisted it was posting all executive expenses online. We now know they weren’t. Behind the scenes the PC government had created a new secret expense category—called corporate events—that allowed ministers and senior government officials to hide $6 million in expenses. Apparently, the PCs believe they’re entitled to a slush fund.

Another backroom secret that was discovered this week has to do with the taxpayer-funded golf course west of Calgary. It seems the arrangement also includes a secret $15 million side-deal that nobody outside the upper ranks of the PC government knows anything about. Prentice and the PCs refuse to disclose details.

Hopefully, the Auditor General will investigate. The PCs obviously believe that in addition to a slush fund, they’re also entitled to secrecy.

Then just a few days ago, former Energy Minister, Ted Morton, spilled the beans on what could be one of the biggest economic boondoggles in Alberta’s history. Morton says the PC government committed the province (again in a backroom without whispering a peep to taxpayers), to what is being referred to as a $26 billion boondoggle.

What began as a low-risk, low-cost project to encourage bitumen upgrading has morphed into a multi-billion dollar boondoggle with high risks for taxpayers,” Morton is quoted as saying. The backroom deal means every Alberta family is on the hook for $25,000.

Every one of these taxpayer-funded deals were made in a backroom by PC Cabinet Ministers who believed they were entitled to do whatever they wanted. No accountability. No transparency. No review. Not even a one-time opportunity for public evaluation.

Just prior to the discovery of these shenanigans, the PCs called an election even though the law specifically says there isn’t supposed to be an election until the spring of 2016. Here too, the PCs believed they were entitled to do what they wanted, even if it meant breaking the law.

Then this past week, in a full display of an entitlement attitude, half-a-dozen PC Cabinet Ministers met with the media to complain that they didn’t like the Wildrose Party’s budget proposals.

Don Braid, a journalist with the Calgary Herald said the PCs presented themselves as “humble candidates,” but he also indicated there was no mistaking that the PCs were trying to marshal the weight and power of government to criticize Wildrose economic policy.

Wildrose Leader, Brian Jean, responded by pointing out that the PCs have such an over-developed sense of entitlement, they don’t even recognize the impropriety of using the power of government to criticize someone during an election campaign, as opposed to speaking out on behalf of their own political party.

These guys think the PC Party and the government are the same thing,” Jean said. “They have an attitude of entitlement.”

Other commentators responded to this week’s events by pointing out that in the world of political parties and government, entitlement and accountability are like air and water. No glass or cup can be filled with air and water at the same time. Similarly, a political party or government filled with an attitude of entitlement, can’t possibly, at the same time, have an attitude of accountability.

This commentary is a production of the Wildrose Coffeeroom. The Wildrose Coffeeroom is a forum made up of a number of Wildrose candidates and some MLAs. On a twice-weekly basis, these individuals get together to talk through a specific policy or fiscal issue. As part of the process, a short commentary is compiled and then edited by a committee of the participants. The editorial committee responsible includes STUART TAYLOR, West Yellowhead, RICK STRANKMAN, Drumheller-Stettler, and WES TAYLOR, Battle River-Wainwright. For background information on the Wildrose Coffeeroom visit us on Facebook.