EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford says there's nothing wrong with members of her caucus passing the hat to reimburse the public for committee work that wasn't done.
Redford says she is proud Progressive Conservative MLAs viewed a $194,000 repayment for a no-meet committee as a larger problem and that all 61 members chipped in out of their own pockets.
"I'm really proud of the team," Redford said Wednesday.
"I'm very pleased that we've been able to completely pay back every single dollar and that we did it together.
"It does reflect all of our values and I'm satisfied with the outcome."
Redford was reacting to a news report that Tory caucus members voted earlier this summer to each pay $2,700 to repay the money received by 15 of their colleagues for sitting on an all-party committee that hadn't met for more than three years.
The issue wasn't about some politicians taking money they didn't earn, she said. The approach to reimbursements for all Alberta politicians was flawed.
"We all understood that there was a process in place that not just Conservative MLAs, but other MLAs frankly, received funds for," said Redford.
"Our view was that it wasn't a system that should be in place."
Wildrose critic Rob Anderson said what Redford is saying now is different from what she said when her party was plunging in the election polls and she ordered Tory members on the committee to pay back the money.
"The premier made it very clear there was going to be personal accountability, that the members on the no-meet committee were going to pay every last cent," said Anderson.
"The implication was they weren't going to be personally enriched by their activity on the no-meet committee. It turns out, after the fact, that's not the case."
The issue flared up in early March and dominated the early days of the provincial election campaign.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation broke the story when it revealed that 21 politicians were being paid $1,000 a month, even though the committee hadn't been meeting.
The federation estimated that taxpayers were paying $261,000 a year for politicians to not meet.
The issue hit all parties in the legislature. The Wildrose party and the Liberals agreed to pay the money back; the Tories and NDP refusing.
The NDP caucus said its members get a set stipend for sitting on so many committees it effectively wasn't paid for the no-meet panel.
The Tories dismissed any paybacks as "grandstanding." Tory backbencher Ray Prins, the committee chairman, said it wasn't money for nothing because "we're always on standby to meet at a moment's notice." Prins later quit government over the paybacks.
As public furor mounted, Redford retreated by degrees, first calling for a voluntary payback by Tory committee members, then calling for a mandatory payback for the six months she was premier.
Public discontent spilled over into the first week of the election campaign. With the Tories plunging and the Wildrose surging in the polls, Redford ordered a mandatory total repayment.
"All Progressive Conservative MLAs will be expected to pay back every penny of money received from the committee that has not met since 2008. Any MLAs who do not will not have a place in our Progressive Conservative caucus," Redford announced at an Edmonton campaign stop March 29.
Redford's team went on to win a majority a month later.
Also on HuffPost:
Alison Redford on insisting Alberta wont's see a PST
“Gosh, my goodness. Today is Thursday. Did I say it yesterday? Did I say it on Tuesday? Did I say it on Friday?” “We are not introducing a provincial sales tax, period. I’ll say it again tomorrow if you like." February 2013.
Alison Redford's Christmas Greeting
In a tongue-in-cheek greeting on This Hour Has 22 Minutes 2012 holiday special, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/07/alison-redford-funny-christmas-greeting_n_2258800.html?1354906380">Redford shared the following message to Canada</a> - "Christmas is my favourite time of year in Alberta. Most people spend their time with family and friends. I choose to spend the bulk of my time the way I do the rest of the year - having a scotch with my friends from the oil and gas industry; talking about how to relax environmental regulations." Looks like another mild winter. You're welcome, Canada."
Ed Stelmach On U.S.
"A good neighbour lends you a cup of sugar. A great neighbour supplies you with 1.4 million barrels of oil per day." -- <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/831381--don-t-tread-on-ed-premier-stelmach-defends-alberta-oilsands-in-washington-post" target="_hplink">In an ad in <em>The Washington Post.</em></a> (CP)
Redford On B.C. Premier Clark
"We have every other premier across the country understanding the importance of the energy economy and understanding that it's important for all Canadians that we do work together." -- <a href="http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/alberta/Debate+over+Northern+Gateway+pipeline+entirely+appropriate/7088360/story.html" target="_hplink">Taking a jab at B.C. Premier Christy Clark.</a> (CP)
Ralph Klein on Evolution
"Dinosaur farts." -- On what may have brought about the <a href="http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/alberta/2010/12/14/16554851.html" target="_hplink">Ice Age.</a> (CP)
Ralph Klein On Belinda Stronach
"I wasn't surprised that she crossed over to the Liberals. I don't think she ever did have a Conservative bone in her body. Well, maybe one." -- Speaking at a charity roast in 2006, <a href="http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/alberta/2010/12/14/16554851.html" target="_hplink">Klein comments on MP Belinda Stronach</a>, who used to date fellow Tory MP Peter McKay, crossing the floor to join the Liberal Party. (CP)
Ralph Klein takes on Dalton McGuinty
"I'm no doctor, but I think that Mr. McGuinty's got a case of premature speculation," said Klein, reacting to comments made in March 2006 by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty opposing any two-tiered health care system in Ontario that Klein has proposed in Alberta, which was believed would allow quicker access to surgery for those who pay.
Peter Lougheed On Oilsands Development
"Would somebody please outline to me the advantages of our doing it this way? For me, an Albertan? What are they? Can you give me a couple of them? What do I as an Albertan gain by this mad rush up there?" -- <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/the-second-coming-of-peter-lougheed/article659021/?page=all" target="_hplink">He asks in <em>The Globe And Mail</em></a>. (CP)
Ralph Klein On Mad Cow Disease
"I guess any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut up, but he didn't do that. Instead he took it to an abattoir." -- At the discovery of mad cow disease <a href="http://ca.m.yahoo.com/w/legobpengine/news/blogs/former-alberta-premier-ralph-klein-finally-getting-order-223011036.html?.b=entertainment&.ts=1340325348&.intl=ca&.lang=en-ca&.ysid=yXfXSNumJYMPRMtsjsr3kcZ6" target="_hplink">on an Alberta ranch.</a> (CP)
Ralph Klein On Edmonton
A fine city with too many socialists and mosquitoes. At least you can spray the mosquitoes." -- In 1990 as a <a href="http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/alberta/2010/12/14/16554851.html" target="_hplink">Tory MLA from Calgary.</a> (CP)
Peter Lougheed On NEP
"Let them freeze in the dark." -- Lougheed takes on Trudeau regarding the NEP in the 70s. The quote is also cited as the more contentious bumper sticker fodder, 'Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.'