Opposition calls out Alberta premier’s principal adviser over travel expenses

Opposition calls out Alberta premier’s principal adviser over travel expenses

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition says one of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s top advisers spent almost $19,000 in taxpayer money for flights, meals and hotels on four trips to London.

NDP ethic critic Heather Sweet told a news conference in Edmonton that principal adviser David Knight-Legg has expensed three times more than any other member of the premier’s staff.

Knight-Legg is an international banker who Sweet said is being paid $195,000 a year by Kenney’s office.

She also said his expenses are so high that he’s spent more in six months than former NDP premier Rachel Notley’s principal secretary did in four years.

Sweet questioned why one of Kenney’s advisers would make pricey trips to London in light of the United Conservative government’s recent budget cuts.

Matt Wolf, executive director of issues management for the premier’s office, said on Twitter Knight-Legg’s role involves meeting with companies and investors to bring investment back to Alberta.

Wolf said that Knight-Legg is an “experienced, highly- credentialed professional, with excellent global connections.”

Sweet said Knight-Legg spent $18,680.77 on four trips to London that were each three to four days long.

“While the premier is hiking taxes, cutting funding for schools and hospitals, disbanding firefighting teams and throwing Albertans off the senior’s drug plan amid claims the province is broke, David Knight-Legg was living a life of luxury in London at Alberta taxpayers’ expense,” she said Wednesday.

She noted the government has made no “substantive announcements about policy or collaboration with the United Kingdom.”

“We can’t find a record of a member of the Kenney cabinet going to London or referencing the trade relationship with the country as a whole.”

She also said there’s no evidence that any officials from Economic Development and Trade accompanied Knight-Legg on his trips.

Earlier this month, NDP Leader Rachel Notley criticized Kenney for spending more than $16,000 on a charter flight for him and fellow conservative premiers last summer. She said Kenney chartered a flight from the Calgary Stampede to a premiers meeting in Saskatoon.

The passenger list included Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his wife, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and his wife and Bob McLeod, who was premier of the Northwest Territories at the time.

Kenney made no apologies for the flight and added it was the only time he’d chartered a plane apart from visiting northern Alberta during a serious wildfire.

The premier said the flight to Saskatchewan was an example of investing in “critical relationships” with like-minded premiers.

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