Posted on Nov 14, 2019

NDP call on Auditor General to investigate lavish UCP expenses

Alberta’s NDP Caucus is calling on the Auditor General to investigate Premier Jason Kenney and his staff’s travel expenses in a growing scandal regarding the improper use of taxpayers dollars for lavish hotels and private jets. 

Yesterday, it was revealed that Kenney’s Principal Advisor, David Knight-Legg, spent more than $45,000 of public dollars on travel expenses, including thousands of dollars’ worth of flights, meals and stays in lavish hotels. Among these expenses are $18,680.77 for four trips to London where he stayed at five-star hotels.

“Extravagant spending in London does nothing for jobs at home. Albertans deserve to know what, if any, value they are getting for these trips,” said Irfan Sabir, NDP Energy Critic. “At a time when Albertans are still struggling to find work, the premier and his staff are taking private jets, staying in posh five-star hotels, and drinking champagne on the taxpayer dime. This while they hand over $4.7 billion to large corporations without creating any jobs to date.”

The UCP have failed to explain who Knight-Legg met with or what was achieved on the trip. Initially, the UCP stated it was a trade mission. Just hours later, they changed their story by claiming Knight-Legg was there on “War Room business.”

“Kenney and the UCP need to get their story straight. Albertans deserve to know what their tax dollars are being used for and what they’re getting in return. We need the Auditor General to investigate,” said Heather Sweet, NDP Critic for Ethics and Democracy.

The latest revelations come a week after it was revealed that Kenney bought tickets on a charter plane for two conservative premiers and their spouses, among others, following a photo-op during the Calgary Stampede last summer. In total, the flight cost more than $16,000.

The private jets and expensive trips are reminiscent of Premier Redford who was embroiled in controversy over her spending, including a $45,000 trip to South Africa. Redford eventually resigned as premier over questions about her spending, use of government planes and leadership style. 

“Premier Kenney likes to compare himself to Premier Lougheed or Klein. Based on his spending habits and level of entitlement, he’s shaping up to be more like Redford,” said Shannon Phillips, Opposition Finance Critic. “The only difference is Redford had the decency to apologize and pay back her expenses. So far, Kenney has refused to apologize or take any responsibility. That is why we feel it is necessary to ask the Auditor General to step in.”