Will policy create trust?

A little shame could go a long way to improving openness and transparency in spending at all feeding stations along the public trough.

A little shame could go a long way to improving openness and transparency in spending at all feeding stations along the public trough.

Premieress Alison Redford recently announced Albertans will no longer pick up the tab for MLAs’ booze, first-class travel and fancy dinners with their benchmates. The rules go into effect Oct. 1 and in December taxpayers can go online to review provincial politicians’ expense reports and detailed receipts with a fine-toothed comb. The policy also applies to the provincial bureaucracy: deputy ministers and press secretaries, chiefs of staff and senior officials appointed and paid by the government. It doesn’t directly apply to employees of arm’s-length commissions but Redford expects them to fall in line.

The “new” policy, which should have been the practice all along, will not automatically apply to municipal councils, school boards, health authorities and universities although they are accountable to the same taxpayers and are just as prone to abuse as the legislature.

Redford expects those governments and public boards to adopt similar disclosure and accountability policies.

And so should we. There is no reason in today’s world why a municipal council or school board cannot make its records database available for public scrutiny on its website, every month after the accounts are approved. The Town of Rimbey — not without a number of council spending controversies — posts a copy of each councillor’s monthly expense claim, signed off by the mayor. In the absence of a watchful ratepayers association, that’s the least we should expect from councillors who campaigned on a platform of openness and transparency.

Council’s best weapon to defend against charges of expense account abuse is to be proactive and disclose this information to the public. Audited financial statements at the end of the fiscal year will tell you how much the mayor and councillors were paid last year but you don’t know how much of the expense payment was for out-of-pocket costs, travel reimbursement, tickets to PC party fundraisers and golf tournaments, three-martini lunches or convention hotel Swedish massages.

Certainly town and county councillors and school trustees work hard for the stipend and they’re due any glory the position affords them. We shouldn’t begrudge a councillor flying first class the elbow room to work on his laptop while flying to a conference across the country. He’s giving up a few days’ wages to learn how to be a better representative, cut the guy some slack. But it’s the folks like chronic abuser former federal cabinet minister Bev Oda and disgraced former provincial bureaucrat Allaudin Merali who claimed expensive restaurant meals and maintenance on his Mercedes who tarnish the good name and practices of our politicians and bureaucrats.

Hopefully this new policy will create more public confidence and comprehension of the actions of governors at all levels. There is value in hosting dignitaries, doing business over a glass of wine with dinner, or travelling to convince a CEO to relocate his company to Rimbey. But show us the receipts.

This new policy, if adopted by all municipal councils and boards, will provide the transparency to help taxpayers understand these expenses are necessary and legitimate.

It will also treat taxpayers with respect instead of like mushrooms.

Just Posted

Ponoka’s Weir looks back with the Golden Seals

Stan Weir lasted three years with the California Golden Seals before playing with the Oilers

Council highlights

Council to fund Rimbey Boys and Girls Club for $15,000

Over $2.6 million in cuts at Wolf Creek Public Schools

Inclusive learning supports slashed by $1.4 million in major budget course correction for WCPS

UPDATE: No charges in found horses near Bentley

Responding veterinarian says horses were in healthy condition.

Volunteer event well attended

Volunteer committee member Irene Steeves helps out

Drama class performs

Volunteer night held

UPDATED: Arrest made after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Police are not saying what is the extent of injuries yet

Kinder Morgan bungled pipeline public relations: poll

The survey suggests 58 per cent of Canadians believe the company is to blame for poor perceptions

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasn’t.

Trump is claiming that North Korea has agreed to “denuclearization” before his potential meeting with Kim, but that’s not the case.

Suspect in deadly Waffle House shooting still being sought

Police say Travis Reinking is the suspect in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant Sunday in Nashville that left four people dead.

G7 warned of Russian threats to western democracy

Ukraine foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin warns G7 of Russian war against Western democracy

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Most Read