Alberta opposition wants auditor general to investigate spending by premier's office

Nov 14 2019, 4:26 pm

After an advisor to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was found to have billed Alberta taxpayers for more than $45,000 worth of expenses, the Alberta NDP is calling on the auditor general to investigate.

The NDP revealed Wednesday that Kenney’s Principal Advisor, David Knight-Legg, billed Albertans “thousands of dollars’ worth of flights, meals and stays in London’s fanciest hotels.”

According to the NDP, “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.”

Heather Sweet, Official Opposition Critic for Democracy and Ethics and MLA for Edmonton-Manning, says that given Knight-Legg’s annual salary of $195,000, the UCP government needs to answer for the “frivolous” spending.

“What on Earth could this close adviser of the Premier be doing in London?” asked Sweet.

According to UCP deputy press secretary Harrison Fleming, “Mr. Knight-Legg, a highly credentialed and experienced business professional, is tasked with working to bring investment back to Alberta. This obviously includes meeting with companies and investors to sell the merits of Alberta.”

According to Fleming, Kenney’s senior advisor met with major banks, private equity funds, and insurers.

“London is one of the most important global financial sectors, especially for energy,” said Fleming.

“Due to the commercially sensitive nature of the meetings – and the fact that foreign-funded activists groups are actively targeting Alberta and large companies doing business in our province – the companies are not named.”

This announcement comes a week after the NDP revealed Kenney bought tickets on a charter plane for two conservative premiers and their spouses, with the flight costing more than $16,000.

“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,” said Sweet.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s NDP, also took to Twitter to express criticism about the actions of the premier and his senior adviser.

“A senior adviser to the Premier has expensed $45K in 6 months on four trips to London and travel elsewhere. In London, he stays in five-star hotels. Surely though, there could be no money to fund an increase to AISH or a few more teachers in our packed classrooms,” said Notley.

“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,” said Sweet.