This week, Finance Minister Doug Horner wrote a letter to PC MLAs begging them not to force him to resign.
Oh, wait, sorry, already this is out of date: he wrote a letter to PC MLAs that had endorsed Jim Prentice (and then likely would be in cabinet posts to seal his fate later this year) asking them not to force him to resign.
Actually, sorry, that's not exactly what happened either: what really happened was that Horner wrote them an email strongly defending everything he's done, denying that he did anything wrong to resign, and insisting that caucus must stand strong to keep the opposition parties at bay.
Dear Colleagues,There's a particular aspect to this letter that caught my eye.
It has been a very difficult few days and I can appreciate the anxiety that the situation has put upon us, the party and the campaign. I would have wished I did not have to be the one at the podium with Jonathan on Thurs but that is part of what we accept when we take the job. The Wild Rose would like nothing better than to continue the action of a few upon all of us. I was told many years ago by my father that if you are accused of something and its true, take the punishment, learn from it and move on, but if it's not true, depend on the truth and the facts and those who accuse need to take responsibility for their actions. My office, my Staff and the department and I have done nothing that contravened the policy or administration of the ATS. The WRAP has put out the five reasons I should resign, allow me to respond.
1. That I am in charge of the fleet.
That is true, the Minister responsible for the fleet is to have them ready and operating in as efficient way as possible so that the LG, Premier, Ministers, and other AUTHORIZED users can use them for government business. I am also responsible for the policy and administration of ATS, this was in Transportation up to the time that Minister Snelgrove brought it over to TB. The Auditor General recommended that policy be created as to the use, passengers, reporting, and Authority to use the planes and in March 2010, (Minister Snelgrove) the current policy was brought in. Sections 7 and 8 clearly note that the accountability for use, destination, who flys, changes to the manifest etc. all lie with the requestor of the flight, in this case the office of the Premier. My office role is to request that they follow the policy as outlined and that it is for government business and any "invited guests" are approved by the requesting officer. (in this case the office of the premier). The ATS coordinator then approves the flight to be scheduled. You will know that anyone wishing to join a flight does not get "approval" from my office but from the Ministry requesting the flight.
2. That I didn't take responsibility for what happened.
In fact I take full responsibility to fully implement the 6 recommendations made by the auditor general, you will note in these recommendations he is asking that more power be given to the Treasury Board, not less. The fact that the policy created in 2010 was followed but may have been abused by a requesting office is for that office to take responsibility as per above. That officer has paid a very high political price as we know.
3. That I shifted blame.
Putting the responsibility where I have on the requesting authority,( which I have reminded cabinet of on several occasions of) is not shifting blame, the responsibility for abuse of the policy lies with the requestor if there was any abuse as per the 2010 policy. If you request a plane you are responsible for its use. (Is Budget responsible if you speed and get a ticket with their rental?)
4. That I didn't know how the planes were being used.
In fact on all requests for the planes the use must be for government business, I depend on the trust integrity and understanding of the policy that all users have been advised on. The manifests for all flights are also public knowledge, we have come a long way from previous Premiers use.
5. That I misled Albertans.
Blatantly false, I look forward to this point in the house, I responded to questions based on the information that was available at the time and indeed true today, I did not mislead the house or Albertans, the spin that the WRAP is putting on all of this is misleading because they know the flight policy as well as I and you do.
Friends it has come to my attention that some of you think I should step down because of this and some of the other difficult files that I have had the privilege to manage over the last two years. I will not, the truth is my defense and my contribution to serious files that affect Albertans, the party and our future I am very proud of. I will not let the fear of the opposition or media bully me into someone thinking that my reputation and contribution is tarnished by the actions of a few outside of my control. For Steven Carter and the like to suggest that this was epidemic thru out our cabinet is to protect themselves from the scrutiny they deserve, in fact some would say it started with him. I do not fear the Wild Rose Alliance because I believe Albertans will see thru their tactics at the right time. I do fear the loss of the respect of colleagues and supporters because of the misleading spin that is being attempted here. So to those who believe I should resign over this, the answer is no.
I look forward to continuing to work towards getting Jim elected as our new leader and Premier, I am continuing to build the base of support in my constituency to that end, I strongly encourage you to do the same, if I can you can.
(Is Budget responsible if you speed and get a ticket with their rental?)
In fact...and here's the part that should really get you steamed, is that a car rental company being responsible for your speeding is the result of a law passed by the Government of Alberta. (for those having trouble keeping score, the Conservatives have been running the province for 40, or 43, or 279, or some other particularly high number of years that definitely precedes the invention of photo radar and the passing of traffic laws governing their use). If you drive through a photo radar station, the bill goes to the owner of your vehicle. As a little quirk that pisses many off, Budget won't even let you fight your ticket in court for this exact reason (namely, the acutal ticket is against you). Doug Horner and the rest of the PC caucus hold the power to change this law, and they could have done so at any time. They didn't.
In fact, they took it one step further: if you don't break the law in your Budget car, the province can levy an "administrative penalty" against you the driver and take the fucking car entirely. Unlike the photo radar rules, which were one of the black marks on Ralph Klein's tenure in the big chair, this was just done two legislative sessions ago, in the runup to the last election which featured the PC Party running (and winning, mind you) on the Alison Redford record. Again, the principle at play under the law is the same: Person A commits a crime using Person B's property. Person B is penalized (without any chance for a trial, or appeal or anything remember, we covered this back in April 2012).
You're Person B, Horner.
What we have here is another classic case of PC Party arrogance: they pass one set of laws for you the peasants, and keep another totally separate set of laws for themselves. You may remember the last time they did this.
So maybe we as Albertans should cut Doug Horner a deal: if he doesn't want to resign in disgrace like his old boss, he can acknowledge that Budget shouldn't be penalized if you drive faster than the number posted on a nonsensical sign on the side of the road. The cops shouldn't be seizing vehicles of people driving with a trivial amount of alcohol in their blood. If you want to play by those rules Horner, that's all fine and good. If the PC caucus thinks that's a good principle to apply to their colleague, then maybe they should extend we Albertans who put them there and pay their freight the same courtesy.