Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ray Pins announced late Tuesday that he will not seek re-election.
A provincial election call could come anytime, since the provincial budget was passed on Tuesday.
Prins’s decision comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding a committee that he chaired that hadn’t met since 2008.
“There has been a statement, yes,” confirmed Ryan Loney, Prins’s legislative assistant, on Wednesday.
“I don’t have all the information and only had a brief conversation with him. I don’t have his full statement as of yet,” Loney said.
Loney said Prins was unavailable for comment.
There has been no word on who will replace Prins as the Progressive Conservative candidate for the riding.
Prins has not resigned as MLA.
He made the decision to resign as a candidate in the next election after his caucus was ordered to pay back $80,000 in salaries. Prins has served as an MLA since 2004.
On Tuesday, the Conservatives ordered their government members to return some of the money they were paid for sitting on the committee.
Tory Whip Robin Campbell says that government MLAs will repay six months’ worth, dating back to when Alison Redford took over as premier.
“The premier, during her campaign this summer, talked about change and about the issue of MLA compensation,” Campbell told a news conference on Tuesday. “We felt as a caucus that going back to when she made her commitment, that was prudent.”
But Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said the move is a slap in the face to all Albertans.
He said he has paid back more than $43,000 he earned on the all-party committee and noted Wildrose party members have also paid back every cent.
Campbell denied the move had anything to do with the fact Redford is preparing to call an election.
“We talked about it in caucus and we thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “This is a discussion we’ve had — we understood what was going on out there. I think that all of our MLAs work very hard.
“People were willing to give the money back. We have a very united caucus.”
The situation was drawn to public attention by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which singled out the committee for its Teddy Waste Award recently.
The federation noted that each of the committee’s 21 members received $1,000 a month for work on the panel, even though it hadn’t met since 2008. The federation estimated the cost of the committee at $261,000 a year.
Prins, as chairman, received $1,500 per month.
The following is a letter from Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ray Prins announcing his intent not to run as a candidate in the next provincial election.
To whom it may concern:
After much discussion with my wife Pauline, my family and close friends, I have informed Premier Redford of my decision to not seek re-election in the upcoming provincial campaign.
Reaching this decision has been a difficult process. I have been pleased to serve Albertans as the MLA for the Lacombe-Ponoka constituency since 2004. In particular I have enjoyed the opportunity to present the views of my constituents on numerous boards and committees including the Rural Alberta Development Fund, Alberta Grain Commission, Treasury Board, as well as serving as MLA co-chair for the Petrochemicals/Chemicals Task Team, the Alberta Competitiveness Council, the Property Rights Task Force and, of course, as chair of rural caucus.
Recently the issue of MLA compensation and my role as chair for the Standing Committee on Privileges & Elections, Standing Orders and Printing has resulted in the media, opposition parties and the public questioning my integrity as a person and an MLA.
During my tenure in the legislature I have only received compensation which was paid to MLAs from all parties. While I firmly believe that I have not contravened my Oath of Office, commitment to Albertans or the tenets of my faith, the issues surrounding MLA compensation were an unnecessary distraction for my caucus colleagues in the upcoming election.
With this in mind, I make a personal decision to not seek re-election. I support the interim measures that caucus has made. I am thankful that Premier Redford initiated a judicial review of the whole issue of MLA compensation. I look forward to the report and the judge’s recommendations.