CSG Weekly Review – August 31, 2017

Posted by | September 26, 2017 | News

Session Schedule & Activities

  • Fall session is scheduled to begin October 30
  • United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership vote on October 28

Government News and Announcements

Credit rating agency DBRS Limited released a report one day after last week’s first quarter
fiscal update warning of a potential further credit downgrade for the government in the
absence of sustained efforts to address the provincial deficit and debit. DBRS currently gives
Alberta a AA rating. Lower ratings making it more expensive for government to borrow
money

Political News

UCP Membership Numbers Released
The UCP announced it has 87,000 members one month after PC and Wildrose members voted to unite. Interim UCP Executive Director Janice Harrington also announced only 8,000 were found to have memberships in both legacy parties.

Constituencies Encouraged to Help Central Party
PC constituency associations have been asked by the central party to help pay off its remaining debit from the 2015 election. After the election, the party owed $1.5 million and it had been reduced to $684,000 by the July 22 unification vote. Associations were given several options for their funds but were strongly encouraged to given any funds to the PC Party debit to ensure the new UCP party is in a position of strength. A decision has been requested by September 16. Under the unification agreement the PC and Wildrose parties continue to exist as ‘legacy’ parties but provincial law prevents the transfer of assets between parties. Any constituency association which retains funds and is de-registered will
have funds returned to the province. The PC constituency associations have an estimated $800,000 in financial assets that can be utilized.

UCP Leadership Polling
Recent polling released this week has shown the UCP Leadership race remains essentially a two-way race with Brian Jean sitting with 44 percent approval among Albertans and Jason Kenney at 32 percent. There has been no polling released showing their support among UCP membership.

UCP Caucus Faces Budget Shortfall
The United Conservative Party Caucus is facing a caucus budget shortfall of $337,000 and in addition to potential staff layoffs, MLAs have been asked to dip into their members’ services allowances.

Each caucus is given an annual budget and rules do not allow them to go into deficit and govern how the money can be spent. It is to be used to support members in the conduct of their parliamentary roles including research and assistance with policy development. Members also receive a separate member services allowance to pay for items such as constituency office operations and communications, gifts and security systems for members’ homes, however any partisan activities or items such as materials with a political logo are explicitly forbidden.

The 2017-18 allowance was $2.8 million for Wildrose and $1.13 million for the PC Caucus. Post-merger the new UCP caucus has been given $1.9 million for the remainder of the fiscal year. The amount remaining has also been adjusted to reflect two former members of each caucus Derek Fildebrant and Dr. Richard Starke are now sitting as independents.

UCP Leadership Candidate Jeff Callaway Releases Two Policy Concepts
Jeff Callaway former president of the Wildrose Party and UCP leadership candidate has released two of his three “big idea” policy concepts. The first was to capitalize on natural gas resources and use them more for transportation, electricity production and petro chemicals. Callaway proposes to roll back the NDP shutdown of coal plans to its original time frame (as late as 2061) and have government support the construction of natural gas-fueled power plants.

The second “big idea” concept is a plan for Alberta to purchase the Port of Churchill in
Manitoba and build a new 250 thousand barrel per day pipeline to increase Alberta
oil’s access to global markets through Hudson’s Bay.

Federal News

Calgary MP In New Portfolio
Earlier this week Alberta MP and Minister Hon. Kent Hehr was shuffled from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs to become Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. The shuffle saw several other Ministers move and the department of Indigenous and Norther Affairs split into two, Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

Investigation Continues for Calgary MP
Federal Liberal AB MP Darshan Kang is facing sexual harassment allegations and could face expulsion from the Liberal caucus. Kang has vehemently denied the allegations and is currently on medical leave from stress related to the allegations.

Municipal News

City Reimbursed for Nenshi Legal Costs
Calgary Mayor Neheed Nenshi reimbursed the city of Calgary for nearly $300,000.00 in legal fees that were incurred when the Mayor battled a defamation lawsuit in 2013 from homebuilder Cam Wenzel. The lawsuit stemmed from comments made by Nenshi on a radio show during the 2013 election campaign and was settled out of court in 2015. 100 Calgarian’s donated between $50- $10,000.00 to help cover Nenshi’s legal fees and Nenshi himself wrote a cheque for $16,910.34. Donors received tax contributions from the city for their contributions. The Mayor will not receive a tax receipt for his contribution.

Edmonton Mayor and Council to Take Pay Cut
Edmonton’s current 13-member council passed a recommendation this week to accept the advice of an independent committee on compensation and reduce the pay of the Mayor and Council effective after the October 16 election.

Last week an independent five-member panel reported back to the city on its examination of Edmonton’s salaries for elected officials in the wake of a recent federal tax change which meant the full salary must be taxable. The committee considered six other Canadian cities, Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary in addition to recent wage trends for city employees and Alberta’s average weekly earnings.

After the October municipal election, the Mayor’s salary will be reduced to $200,747 from the $218,200 he would have received under the current formula. Councillor compensation will fall to $113,416 after the election from $116,729 under the current rules.

08-31-17 Edition