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Opposition hammers Alberta government for usage of gov’t planes

May 29, 2009 – Alberta taxpayers paid the tab for a government plane that flew home southern Alberta members of the legislature after Tory fundraising dinners in Edmonton for the past three years, the Liberals charged Thursday in the legislature.


May 29, 2009
By Administrator

May 29, 2009 – Alberta taxpayers paid the tab for a government plane that flew home southern Alberta members of the legislature after Tory fundraising dinners in Edmonton for the past three years, the Liberals charged Thursday in the legislature.

"After a party, after a few drinks, it is important not to drive home," Calgary McCall Liberal Darshan Kang said in question period.

"This government obviously recognizes this because, following the last three Progressive Conservative Association fundraising dinners for the premier, this government's MLAs flew back to Calgary following each event on taxpayer-funded planes.

"Please tell the house that it is not government policy to use taxpayer-funded planes to fly government MLAs home following Progressive Conservative fundraisers,'' he asked Premier Ed Stelmach.

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The Liberals tabled Alberta government flight manifest documents showing planes left Edmonton City Centre Airport late in the evening on April 30 this year, on April 24, 2008 and on April 12, 2007, and flew to Calgary, coinciding with the nights of the premier's dinners in Edmonton.

The flights carried southern Alberta members of the legislature, including cabinet ministers. The reasons give in all the cases were either to attend meetings with government or elected officials or to attend a news conference or event, the documents show.

The premier reacted angrily, saying the Tory party always charters planes for members of the legislature or officials to attend his annual premier's dinners.

"That is quite a serious accusation to make,'' Stelmach said, asking Kang to withdraw the allegation.

Kang replied by asking Stelmach to table his receipts on the government planes.

The Speaker later ruled Kang's questions were not out of order, but not before Stelmach said this was just another cheap shot by critics.

Treasury Board spokesman Gerald Kastendieck admitted the government flights left on the days of the premier's dinners but said members of the legislature from southern Alberta have a right to use the plane every Thursday when returning to their constituencies.

Kang said outside the legislature that he was suspicious of the fact the government planes left so late on those Thursdays that the premier's dinners were held in Edmonton.

Generally, on Thursdays, when the house is sitting, the government planes leave for Calgary around suppertime, said Kang.