10/23/2012 05:16 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST

Alison Redford Transition Payment: Alberta Premier Distances Self From MLA Flap


EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford distanced herself Tuesday from an attempt by some of her caucus members to try to bring back controversial transition allowances.

Redford was asked if she knew about the move ahead of time, but would only say committee members make their own decisions.

"Although I'm interested as a member of the legislature, it's up to the members of that committee to decide how they want to do their work, what they want to do and to make recommendations," she said.

Redford reiterated that her government will not be bringing back transition allowances.

The payments proved to be a headache for the Tories last spring when taxpayers learned they'd be on the hook for $10 million for retiring politicians.

Speaker Ken Kowalski alone got $1.2 million.

Last week, government whip Steve Young and other Tories on an all-party committee used their majority to pass a motion asking the legislature to bring back the allowances, but in reduced form.

Young has said he misunderstood directions from the premier.

Alberta Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith has said the transition controversy may be a bit of political misdirection to deflect public attention from Young's motion to have the new pension plan be a straight-up RRSP with taxpayers funding the maximum contribution of $23,000.

She reiterated Tuesday that her team will work to defeat that motion.

"Certainly, in a year when we're looking at a $3 billion budget deficit, the last thing that this government should do is set the precedent of an eight per cent pay increase," said Smith.

"How on earth are they going to negotiate with their unions if MLAs pay themselves first?"

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