NDP labels Prentice’s flagship bill to clean up government ‘all hat, no cattle’

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says proposed legislation to clean up government is hollow because it's written in a way to allow for quick changes in secret.

EDMONTON — Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says proposed legislation to clean up government is hollow because it’s written in a way to allow for quick changes in secret.

“Jim Prentice’s accountability legislation is the classic example of something which is all hat, no cattle. He promised big and delivered very little,” Notley said at a legislature news conference Tuesday.

“If this is the pattern that we’re going to see from this premier, then we actually have some current trust issues that need to be dealt with.”

The Alberta Accountability Act was introduced in the legislature Monday.

Its goal is to fulfil a leadership campaign promise by Prentice to eliminate government greed, cronyism and entitlement, so that Albertans can move on from the spending scandals under former premier Alison Redford.

Among the changes, there are to be new rules to ensure a level playing field for companies bidding for government work. There are also to be limits on how much severance can be paid to political staff.

However, both of those changes are not part of the legislation, but instead are to be Treasury Board directives.

Notley said that means Prentice and his fellow Progressive Conservatives who run the Treasury Board could amend those directives behind closed doors and whenever they wished.

It also means Prentice has failed to come through on his promise to put the changes in legislation, she said.

The question of fairness in contracts made headlines earlier this fall when auditor general Merwan Saher reported that under Redford, the province broke sole-source contracting rules to deliver almost $540,000 in contracts to the communications firm Navigator Ltd.

Saher said the Health Department and Redford’s office didn’t justify reasons why the Navigator contracts couldn’t be put up for competitive bids and, in some cases, didn’t check back to see if a contract was value for money.

Saher did not cite any irregularities by Navigator.

Under the old rules, the government had to solicit bids for any services contract over $75,000. The new law would lower that figure to $10,000.

For construction work, the threshold for competitive bids would drop to $50,000 from $100,000.

The deputy minister, who is the top civil servant in a department, would have to sign off on any decision to break the contracting rules, such as in an emergency situation or if there were only one provider.

The reasons for such a decision would also have to be made available to the public.

Navigator is a national firm whose leaders have close ties with the provincial Conservatives and who have assisted with campaign strategy in the past.

Prentice is friends with key Navigator executives but has said in the past that the company won’t be bidding on government contracts while he is premier.

Redford was also criticized for generous salaries and severance packages for members of her inner circle.

Her chief of staff, Farouk Adatia, received a base annual salary of $316,000, and nine staff members pocketed $1.2 million in severance when they left the premier’s office with Redford in March.

Redford quit as premier in the face of an escalating revolt from her party and caucus over exorbitant travel spending that included $45,000 to fly her and an aide to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.

Just Posted

Westerner Parade draws crowds

Red Deerians line downtown streets to enjoy annual Westerner Days kick-off

Trudeau poised to shuffle, retool cabinet with focus on Liberals’ team for 2019

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau will shuffle his front benches Wednesday to install… Continue reading

Aecon Group joint venture wins Enbridge Line 3 replacement contract

TORONTO — Aecon Group Inc. says its joint venture with Robert B.… Continue reading

Conservative party pulls attack ad of black man walking over Trudeau tweet

OTTAWA — The Conservative party pulled an attack ad from its Twitter… Continue reading

Groundbreaking ceremony held for new international bridge

DETROIT — U.S. and Canadian officials touted the friendship between the two… Continue reading

Oilers sign first-round pick Evan Bouchard to entry-level contract

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenceman Evan Bouchard to a… Continue reading

Lab-grown meat could be in restaurants in 3 years

BERLIN — A Dutch company that presented the world’s first lab-grown beef… Continue reading

Duchess of Sussex wears dress by Calgary’s Nonie to Mandela exhibition

CALGARY — A fondness for Canadian fashion apparently hasn’t waned for Meghan,… Continue reading

Destiny’s Child singer Williams seeks mental health help

LOS ANGELES — Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams says she’s seeking help… Continue reading

A Comic-Con without Marvel, HBO gives others a chance to pop

Over 130,000 pop culture devotees are descending on San Diego’s Gaslamp District… Continue reading

Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game 8-6 in 10 innings

American League 8 National League 6 (1o innings) WASHINGTON — A record… Continue reading

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Man suffers critical injuries, Red Deer police arrest woman in pedestrian crash

A man is in hospital with critical injuries and Mounties have arrested… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month