EDMONTON, AB (December 10, 2014): Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says the much-heralded and long-awaited Alberta Accountability Act falls short of what Premier Prentice promised. “This bill blows lots of smoke but there’s little sizzle,” says Sherman. “It is simply aimed at atoning for the sins of the past, nothing more.”
Many of the premier’s initial promises and musings didn’t actually make it into the bill. Conspicuously absent are:
- Promised amendments to the Financial Management Act;
- Requiring the budget to be presented in a clear, consolidated format;
- Producing a bi-annual report card on savings, and
- Merit-based appointments for agencies, boards and commissions.
The promise to cap staff severance payments and to put an end to sole-source contracts also never made it into the legislation. Instead, those provisions were only written into Treasury Board directives instead of law – a practice that is quickly becoming the hallmark of the Prentice Conservatives.
“The premier also promised to consult with the opposition on this bill,” says Sherman. “We have yet to receive a call or an email asking for input, so our suggestions will have to be made through our amendments.”
Alberta Liberals will focus their amendments on the following:
- Implementing the recommendations that were either proposed or supported by Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman in her work on the Conflicts of Interest Act Review Committee in 2013, and
- Revoking the powers granted to the Ethics Commissioner under the Conflicts of Interest Act to provide exemptions to cooling off periods and in other areas.
“Proposing new accountability measures is quite challenging since the opposition can only propose amendments to sections that are actually in the bill,” says Sherman. “That limits our options and prevents us from bringing forward better solutions such as the creation of an Independent Appointments Commission or an Independent Budget Officer.
“Simply put, we believe the Accountability Act needs more accountability.”
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