Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ethically Challenged Ed

Ethically challenged Alberta CEO Ed Stelmach continues the Tired Old Tory tradition of protecting that ultimate special interest group; Tory Cabinet Ministers and MLA's. Smelling pending doom they quickly trashed Ed's first promise as Premier; accountability, transparency and ethics reform. And so once again Albertans suffer a Democratic Deficit.

Premier Ed Stelmach has given a free pass to cabinet ministers and senior aides who leave or get ousted after the election, ensuring that new conflict of interest rules won't apply until a month later.

Trying to distance himself from former premier Ralph Klein's distaste for ethics rules, one of the first moves Stelmach made as premier was to draft legislation that tightens the conditions for how top officials can peddle their skills and insider knowledge once they leave government.

But hours before Stelmach dropped the writ Monday, the Tory cabinet approved an order-in-council to have the Conflicts of Interest Amendment Act take effect on April 1, nearly a month after the March 3 vote. A government worker had earlier told The Journal the rules would be in place before the campaign began.

t means retiring finance ministers Lyle Oberg and Greg Melchin don't have to wait 12 months before they can start lobbying their former government on behalf of auto insurers or oilsands companies -- only the six months for ex-ministers under the old law.

And the premier's chief of staff, his deputies and all ministers' senior aides have no restrictions on their dealings if they hit the exits following the election, which they traditionally do in droves.

In fact, if the Tories get turfed from government, they all avoid the new rules Stelmach trumpeted as part of his approach to open and honest government.

Rivals said this proves Stelmach isn't much more serious about his ethics policies than Klein was.

"Maybe they should change their slogan to 'Change that works for Tory insiders,' " NDP Leader Brian Mason said. (The Tory slogan suggests the party's brand of change works for Albertans.)

"To them, (ethics are) a matter of convenience, and clearly they saw this as an inconvenience to themselves."


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