Tags: Providing Leadership & Accountability

Posted on Nov 13, 2019

Top Kenney aide billed Albertans for thousands in flights, meals and five-star hotels in the UK

Premier Jason Kenney’s closest adviser has billed Alberta taxpayers for more than $45,000 worth of expenses, including thousands of dollars’ worth of flights, meals and stays in London’s fanciest hotels.

David Knight-Legg, a Yale and Oxford-educated international banker currently earning $195,000 a year as the premier’s Principal Advisor, has expensed three times more than any other member of the Premier’s staff, including the Chief of Staff. Knight-Legg’s expenses after six months are more than Rachel Notley’s Principal Secretary expensed over four years.

Among these expenses are $18,680.77 for four trips to London, each three to four days long, where he stayed either at the five-star Chilworth London Paddington Hotel, or in the upscale Soho neighbourhood at the historic Kettner’s hotel, “home to aristocrats since 1867”, which was opened by Napoleon III’s chef and features an art-nouveau champagne bar. Knight-Legg also billed Alberta taxpayers for Ubers, train rides and 43 meals in Great Britain’s capital. 

“What on Earth could this close adviser of the Premier be doing in London?” asked Heather Sweet, Official Opposition Critic for Democracy and Ethics and MLA for Edmonton-Manning.

“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 taxpayer’s expense.

“We have seen no substantive announcements about policy or collaboration with the United Kingdom. In fact, 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. Albertans paid for four luxurious trips in six months. The Premier must immediately release the full, detailed itineraries of each of David Knight-Legg’s trips. Otherwise Albertans have no way of knowing if this former international banker was conducting his own business and making the taxpayer pick up the bill,” Sweet said.  

Although the bulk of Knight-Legg’s banking career has been in China and the Pacific Rim, he has yet to travel west of Vancouver on government business. There’s also no evidence that any officials from Economic Development and Trade accompanied Knight-Legg on his trips to London.

Last week, Premier Kenney drew widespread criticism for spending Alberta taxpayers’ money on private aircraft to carry himself, several other conservative premiers and their wives from a pancake party photo-op in Calgary to a meeting in Saskatoon.

“Albertans have a right to know what the purpose of these over-the-top extravagant trips was, and what return - if any - they got for them,” Sweet said. “The premier must apologize for the ongoing pattern of entitlement and frivolous spending of Albertans’ tax dollars in his office.”