08/21/2015 17:21 EDT | Updated 08/21/2016 01:12 EDT

Alberta Opposition leader questions NDP byelection candidate on double dipping

CHESTERMERE, Alta. — Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean says he doesn't think it would be right for the NDP candidate in next month's Calgary byelection to collect a salary and a pension if he wins.

Jean says that would be double dipping at taxpayer expense.

Bob Hawkesworth was a New Democrat MLA in Calgary from 1986 to 1993.

Now he's running in the Calgary Foothills byelection that became necessary when former Tory premier Jim Prentice stepped down.

Prentice took the seat in a byelection last October and retained it in last spring's provincial election, but quit that night when it became clear the NDP had won.

Jean says Hawkesworth will have to decide what to do if he wins on Sept. 3.

"That's up to Bob on whether he wants to receive ... a double dipping from the provincial government, which means a double dipping from taxpayers," Jean said Friday.

"I don't think it's appropriate. Certainly I would invite the public to respond to his decision on that."

Hawkesworth, who was also a Calgary councillor for 23 years, won the nomination over Anne Wilson, who came second to Prentice on election night.

Jean also said his party is keeping expectations in check about the byelection, despite a poll that shows the Wildrose leading.

"The NDP honeymoon can go on for a little bit longer," he said. "We know that they're still receiving some positive responses in some parts of the province, and we believe that that continues to be somewhat of a special circumstance.

"We'll wait and see."

Jean was visiting Chestermere, east of Calgary, on Friday to encourage residents still dealing with the aftermath of flooding from two heavy rainstorms last month.

He called on the government to address their needs quickly and said the disaster relief program is inadequate.


The Canadian Press