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Last updateFri, 22 Feb 2019 3pm

“More about scoring political points”? UCP promises to cut MLA, premier salaries

1024px Jason Kenney Senate of Poland

Should Alberta’s provincial elected officials receive pay cuts? United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney thinks so, saying last week that if his party is elected, both MLAs and the premier would receive pay cuts “until the budget is balanced.”

Mr. Kenney said MLA salaries would be cut by five per cent, while the premier’s office would see a 10 per cent cut by the UCPs.

“I thought the Premier should take a larger cut because the premier gets the largest paycheque in the legislature,” he said at a party rally on February 17.

But how much do MLAs and the premier make anyway?

According to Alberta’s legislative assembly website, the MLA base salary is $127,296, but members are given additional remuneration and allowances for other additional duties, such as over $63,648 for the speaker, the leader of the official opposition or a minister with a portfolio. The Premier’s office earns the MLA base salary plus an additional $79,560 for their duties as premier, totalling $206,856. Mr. Kenney’s promised pay cuts would mean the MLA base salary would be $120,931 and the premier would receive $186,170 in compensation.

Drumheller-Stettler UCP candidate Nate Horner says he agrees with the idea of a pay cut, as does the rest of the party.

“All the candidates were completely on board… no one seemed concerned about the wage,” Horner said in an email. “(We’re) Just regular people concerned for Alberta’s future, that want to take a shift and serve.”

And while Alberta Party candidate Mark Nikota agreed with the idea of a pay cut, he says the UCP may have other motives for making that part of their election platform.

"I would support an MLA pay cut as we need to show leadership in tough economic times, however the idea is more about scoring political points then solving problems,” he told the Mail. “If you add up total MLA pay from last year, the cut they are proposing amounts to a total of under $700,000 on a budget deficit of over $8 billion. Every little bit helps though."

Sitting Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman and independent candidate in the upcoming election says that five and 10 per cent cuts were not enough and that “during the next nomination I had voiced my position as a 20 per cent cut.”

“How else could we reduce the present government’s multi-billion dollar debt? This is intended as a principled leadership role to begin reigning in the overpriced government spending in managerial positions throughout government.”

Alberta’s parties all seem to gearing into full campaign mode, with the provincial election expected to take place sometime on or before May 31 of this year.

The NDP currently have 52 seats in the assembly, the UCP 25, and three for the Alberta party.


Kaleidoscope explores haunting work in The Huron Bride

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Kaleidoscope Theatre is taking on a unique story with its latest production The Huron Bride.

  Ashley Turner, long time Kaleidoscope Theatre performer and volunteer, is directing the Canadian play which is opening on February 22. Turner saw a performance of the play and felt it would work well on Kaleidoscope’s stage.

  She said the story revolves around a woman, Hazel, who migrates to a small town in Northern Ontario to work for her second cousin James in the early 19th century. A romance develops, and that is when the ghost of James’ first wife comes into the play.

“Is she trying to warn Hazel? Or is she a jealous spirit?”  Turner asks.

The play was originally written by Toronto playwright Hannah Moscovitch as part of a cycle.

Turner loves the dialogue of the show.

“The show is not very heavy in its movement, it is heavy in atmosphere and dialogue. The whole secret of the play is tucked into the lines and characters, and how the story unfolds with the dialogue,” she said.

Turner made her directorial debut with Kaleidoscope’s The Game’s Afoot in 2015. The show includes some well know Kaleidoscope players such as a Rhian Russell and Eric Neuman as well as some new faces.

“It is an interesting mix of new community members and people who have been in shows a few times. I think my cast is amazing,” said Turner.

She appreciates the creative community of Kaleidoscope Theatre.

“Anybody can bring a play forward, It’s kind of director’s choice, if you feel passionately about a show and you want to direct it, no one really tells you no,” she said.

Kaleidoscope Theatre’s production of The Huron Bride opens Friday, February 22. Tickets are available by going to www.drumhellertheatre.org.

Eric Neuman and Rhian Russell in Kaleidoscope Theatre’s production of The Huron Bride. The show opens Friday, February 22.

mailphoto by PatricK Kolafa

Starland Seed Plant shareholders consider new building

Delia Seed Cleaning Plant Starland County

Shareholders of the Starland Seed Cleaning Plant are looking at its best option to move forward into the future.

The Mail reported in December of 2017 that membership of the Starland Seed Cleaning Plant began to explore what the future might hold for the aging seed cleaning plant in Delia. Secretary Al Hampton tells the Mail, its membership is looking at the possibility of building.

“The board, on the advice of shareholders, has contracted a company, LMC, and tasked them to create a project design for us based on the need we supply them, what we feel is going to be necessary to make this plant functional for our shareholders,” said Hampton.

The plant was built in the 1960s and was designed to clean smaller volumes than what are typically supplied today with growing farming operations.

    “The project is kind of twofold; one is to provide a cleaning service, the second is a potential value-added play. We are trying to set this facility up to move containers in seacan or intermodal,” he said. “A big chunk of this business model will be gearing it towards dealing with the line companies so we can actually source pulses for instance, and process them through the plant to be shipped out via containers and create  a bit of value added for our producers  and create cash flow for our plant.”

Right now the plans are in their infancy and will still need shareholder approval before they go forward.

“Our ultimate goal is to have an actual number (cost) and a couple of different models of plants that we can present to our shareholder crowd and  say ‘this is what we are looking at to build a facility, these are the things we have in place, this is what we need to get in place and this is the type of money we have to raise,”’ he said. ”With this type of project there is no government money available, primarily it is going to have to be raised by the community and the shareholders. They will have to buy into the project.”

He hopes they will get the ball rolling by this spring.

“I think we will have something we can take to our shareholders’ meeting before seeding. That would be the goal,” said Hampton.

He says the project could be a boon for the community.

“The potential for the project is big. If we can get something like this to go and if it can do what we think it can do, all of a sudden we are creating jobs, something that is few and far between in this world. That would be our goal, create a project that creates some employment and a little bit of stability in the area  and adds value for the farmer.”


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