One MLA going, one won’t

Cal Dallas won’t be going to the Grey Cup showdown in Edmonton — but not because he feels the freebie tickets that he and other Alberta MLAs scored are a bad idea.

Cal Dallas won’t be going to the Grey Cup showdown in Edmonton — but not because he feels the freebie tickets that he and other Alberta MLAs scored are a bad idea.

The Red Deer South MLA Dallas said he won’t be attending Sunday’s Grey Cup game between Saskatchewan and Montreal because he has other plans, not because of ethical concerns.

“It’s an important event in Edmonton and Alberta — a celebration. And folks from all across the country will be there. There could be something positive that comes from that kind of interaction,” said Dallas, who believes will be a good opportunity for politicians to rub shoulders with visitors to the province.

He and other Alberta MLAs received free Grey Cup tickets as part of a $1.1-million sponsorship agreement the Alberta government worked out with Grey Cup event organizers. As part of the deal, 140 tickets are being made available to provincial MLAs and a further 50 have been earmarked for disadvantaged youth in the Edmonton area.

That doesn’t sit well with Canadian Taxpayer Federation provincial director Scott Hennig, who is concerned that politicians are personally benefitting by approving a grant that essentially uses taxpayer dollars to buy MLAs football tickets.

If the grant didn’t go to Grey Cup organizers, would the MLAs be getting these free tickets, questioned Hennig, who answered: “No.”

But Dallas added, “My sense is that this was a transparent process and it’s part of the sponsorship agreement.” He’s unsure what will happen to tickets that are not used by MLAs.

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski said she intends to use her free pair of Grey Cup tickets to take her husband to the game to cheer on the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Jablonski said the free ticket deal was cleared by the province’s ethic’s commissioner. “He said it was an acceptable package.”

Attending the Grey Cup will allow Alberta politicians to “showcase what we’re all about,” she added. “It’s a celebration, and a festival, and part of the sponsorship, so I think it’s great.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com