Lots of Pat Rehn’s constituents may think the Lesser Slave Lake MLA is about as helpful as a screen door on a submarine, but it turns out the fellow’s been able to dine out on his exalted status just the same.
Quite literally, it would seem.
Researcher Tony Clark recently dug into Mr. Rehn’s expense claims for 2020 and discovered that the MLA for the region about 225 kilometres northwest of Edmonton spent almost every day in the Alberta capital between the start of April and the end of July — “and he expensed nearly every meal.”
That would come to $4,713 in per diems. He wasn’t in Edmonton for only eight days during that period, his expense claims showed.
Municipal politicians and other constituents have been complaining bitterly that the United Conservative Party MLA – who recently got a tap on his wrist from Premier Jason Kenney for his mid-pandemic vacation in Mexico – almost never shows up in the riding and rarely talks to them.
On Jan. 5, all seven members of the Slave Lake Town Council signed an open letter to Mr. Rehn expressing their displeasure with his protracted absence, complaining that he spends more time in Texas managing a business he owns there than he does in the riding. They asked him to resign.
In a social media response to the councillors, the MLA accused them of “seizing on this to try to sow political division at this difficult time,” and vowed, “I will continue representing Lesser Slave Lake.”
Since then, councillors in High Prairie, another town in the rural riding, voted to send Mr. Rehn a letter of their own complaining about his lackadaisical performance.
Getting back to Mr. Clark’s discovery, he noted Mr. Rehn also received the maximum MLA housing allowance for a residence-away-from-home in the provincial capital last year, $1,930 per month.
Danielle Larivee, former NDP MLA for the riding won by Mr. Rehn in the 2019 general election, noted on her Facebook page that “to add insult to injury, Pat Rehn claimed expenses for being in Edmonton … ‘for the purpose of carrying out duties as a Member.’ I know he was sitting in the House in the Legislature for some of those days, but what about the rest?”
The comments underneath Ms. Larivee’s Facebook post are illuminating, with interesting commentary by Slave Lake Town Councillor Rebecca King on her MLA’s hosting expenses and meal claims.
Meanwhile, sorting through the produce with Miranda Rosin, MLA
Speaking of food and UCP caucus members, Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin used a recent epistle to her constituents to lament how COVID-19 means “sorting through the produce to find a pure, unblemished fruit has become a novelty of the past.”
Ms. Rosin, something of a creative writer, also complained that “those who do not wear their masks quite properly or forget to hand sanitize upon entrance are sneered at with judgement by passersby,” and suggested the pandemic is making Albertans dependent on government in ways that Ronald Reagan, the late America president, would never approve of.
Reading this, one might be tempted to conclude Ms. Rosin, who visited Saskatchewan over the holiday, doesn’t really approve of the restrictions so reluctantly imposed by her government to control the spread of COVID-19.
Never let it be said there’s nothing useful to be found in UCP MLAs’ constituent handouts, however. Remember: Always wash any fruit you bring home from the grocery store before you take a bite.
Hello, Joe, we’ve rigorously vetted your pipeline!
With only a week to go before Joe Biden is scheduled to be sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Republican riots permitting, the Alberta Energy War Room stands ready to remind the president-elect why he should put aside his promises and approve the Keystone XL Pipeline for our province’s somewhat ethical, only slightly Saudi-owned oil.
In addition to urging readers who stumble upon the War Room’s Support Canadian Energy microsite to take its “‘Say No to Foreign Oil – Say Yes to Canadian Oil’ Pledge,” the feisty communicators at what’s legally known as Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. have penned a wordy open letter to Mr. Biden saying we should all “stand together in opposition to tyrannical states that have dominated the global energy industry for far too long.”
Not sure how that “ethical oil” thing will go over in Washington, but one has the feeling this open letter had Alberta taxpayers as much in mind as the new president.
“The project also has financial backing from the Government of Alberta, based in part on rigorous vetting by outside industry experts to ensure the success of the project while minimizing risk to taxpayers,” it rather plaintively claims.
Keep those experts in mind if Mr. Biden, a Democrat, keeps his promise and pulls the plug on KXL anyway, taking the $1.5 billion of Alberta taxpayers’ money that Premier Kenney has already pledged away down the pipeline to Texas.