Alberta taxpayers demand value for money
The Redford government has announced plans to open a new office in Ottawa it says will promote the province’s interests while at the same time increasing opportunities for cooperation with the Harper Tories.
“Alberta has always had a strong and effective voice on the national stage,” said Premier Alison Redford. “We are entering a new era where co-operation with the federal government will be of unparalleled importance.”
Central Alberta MLA Cal Dallas, who is provincial minister of international and intergovernmental relations, added: “Opening an Alberta office in Ottawa gives us an expanded presence that will help forge stronger relations in Canada’s capital and advocate Alberta’s perspective on important intergovernmental matters.”
The office will operate under the auspices of the provincial ministry of international and intergovernmental relations, with staff reporting to the deputy minister of international and intergovernmental relations.
While few would argue against the fact that Alberta’s interests need to be heard loud and clear on the national stage, whether the hefty price being spent on this new office is money well spent remains to be seen.
At a cost of $875,000 per year, plus an additional $50,000 startup cost, the Ottawa office certainly doesn’t come cheap – especially at a time when funds for vital community services are increasingly hard to come by across Alberta.
As with all public money spent by elected officials, this new office expenditure must be shown to be worthwhile.
The Redford government says the new office will help “strengthen relationships with key contacts, including with Members of Parliament, key staff members, senior officials, academic institutions, media and others, and communicate the positive work being done in the province.”
While inter-government cooperation in areas such as health care, education, social programs, and economic development is obviously something everyone wants, the province’s new government has first and foremost been elected to promote the interests of Alberta residents.
As such, Alberta taxpayers will be watching carefully to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of dollars being shelled out on this new Alberta office in Ottawa are being spent for good results.
What won’t be acceptable is for this office to become a handy meeting place where provincial Conservatives and their federal Conservative colleagues can get together to crow about all the great things they have been doing.
The premier says Alberta is moving into a “new era where co-operation with the federal government will be of unparalleled importance.”
Hopefully the premier will also remember that taxpayers, including those in West Central Alberta, expect this new era to include the wise and prudent use of public money, even in faraway Ottawa.