Alberta briefs – October 20

The New Democrats are challenging Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith to reveal who donated to her leadership campaign.

Alliance challenge to reveal donor list

EDMONTON — The New Democrats are challenging Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith to reveal who donated to her leadership campaign.

Smith has said she can’t divulge her backers because they might face retribution from the Tory government.

But the NDP’s Rachel Notley says the new Wildrose leader should set an example of transparency by releasing the names.

She points out that Smith has said that she believes oil companies should pay less in royalties.

Notley suggests Albertans have a right to know whether oil companies were major donors to Smith’s campaign.

Notley is calling for legislation requiring full disclosure of donations to political and leadership campaigns.

Premier hearing support for freeze

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach says he’s hearing support for his goal to freeze the wages of public sector workers when they negotiate their next contracts.

The premier announced during a televised address last week that a two-year wage freeze for 6,500 senior bureaucrats is part of the government’s plan to help eliminate a record $7-billion deficit in three years.

Stelmach says the people he’s talking to agree with his position of putting “jobs before raises” — a line he used last week in the 20-minute paid telecast.

The premier concedes it will be up to unions whether to accept a zero per cent wage increase, but he adds there are other “mechanisms to reach the same goal.”

Union leaders for a majority of Alberta’s public sector workers have widely rejected Stelmach’s bid to keep a lid on wages.

A spokesman for the premier said last week that any pay increases in the public sector could force the province to cut jobs.

U of A students bracing for tuition hike

EDMONTON — Students at the University of Alberta are being told to brace for tuition fee increases, as the institution grapples with a projected $60 million funding shortfall.

Just how much more students may be paying is still to be determined.

The university was expecting a six per cent funding increase from the provincial government, but that has been pulled as the provincial government wrestles with a record deficit.

Phyllis Clark, the university’s vice-president of finance, says they want to maintain a good quality education and that means keeping money in the budget for teaching and operations.

At a closed-door morning meeting, staff and students discussed administration’s plans to raise revenues and cut some expenses.

Boyfriend played rough with toddler

MEDICINE HAT — The mother of a two-year-old boy says her ex-boyfriend used to play rough with her young son before he died.

Carter Murfin was injured in his home in Brooks, Alta., in August of 2005 and was eventually taken to hospital in Calgary, where he later died from his injuries.

Cody Allen Tomlinson is charged with manslaughter and failing to provide the necessities of life to the boy.

The toddler’s mother, Danielle, testified on the first day of the trial that the night before the boy was rushed to hospital, Tomlinson had been pulling the child on a short board that is usually used for bodysurfing.

Speaking through tears, she told the court that her son hit his head on a chair as he was being pulled.

The next day, the boy lost consciousness and was taken to hospital but later succumbed to his injuries.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.