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Ousted Tory’s expense claims raise questions of residency, appropriateness

Rehn made extensive per diem expense claims for time in Edmonton while the legislature was not in session.

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A deep-dive into the expense claims of Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn are raising questions about where the MLA spent most of his time when the legislature was not in session, and their appropriateness.

The MLA billed for three meals a day in Edmonton for two full months – even when the legislature was not in session – despite representing a constituency in northern Alberta.

On January 15, Premier Jason Kenney unilaterally expelled Rehn from the UCP Caucus saying he “has made no meaningful effort to be more present in his constituency or to properly represent his hard-working constituents” and “ignored” calls to be more present in Slave Lake.

The curious reason given made no mention of the expense issue, which had come into the hands of the Western Standard and other Alberta media outlets.

Rehn has said he maintains a home in the Lesser Slave Lake constituency.

Despite this, he claimed $1,245.50 in Edmonton per diems for every day – including weekends – for every day in April, despite the the legislature sitting for just 10 days that month.

Most rural MLAs return their homes on weekends, and per diems are only to be claimed when on business.

The Western Standard has repeatedly attempted to contact Rehn for comment or explanation. As of press time, no response has been received.

Rehn also claimed $1,930 every month for his housing allowance in Edmonton, something MLAs from outside the capital region are allowed in order to maintain a residence. Alternatively, MLAs may expense stays at a hotel.

While claiming a monthly housing allowance is usual for most MLAs, it is intended for the maintenance of a secondary Edmonton residence, and not a primary residence.

The frequency of per diem meal claims on days when the legislature is not sitting raises questions about where Rehn’s actual primary residence was.

The Slave Lake Town Council alleged in a public letter that Rehn did not reside in or near the constituency, and that he spent more of his time outside of the legislature in Texas.

The legislature does not release the location of MLA primary residencies for privacy reasons.

In his May, Rehn claimed every day for meals in Edmonton except on May 1, when he just claimed only breakfast, and May 3, claiming dinner.

Every other day that month, the MLA claimed breakfast, lunch and dinner in Edmonton, billing a total of $1,193.35. He also claimed the $1,930 non-resident housing benefit. The legislature only sat for 10 days in May.

In June, Rehn appeared to make three weekend trips outside Edmonton. The legislature sat for 16 days that month, with Rehn claiming full per diems for 23 full days in Edmonton.

The house rose for the summer break on July 23, after sitting for 12 days. But Rehn claimed full Edmonton meal allowed from July 24-31, even though business had wrapped up in the capital.

The only day in July Rehn didn’t claim full per diems Edmonton was on July 18, where he billed $29.95 for lunch in Wabasca.

In the wake of the Snowbird Scandal, the mayor and entire council of Slave Lake called on their MLA to resign in an open letter. The council alleges a litany of problems they have had with him.

The town, with a population of 6,500, 255 km northeast of Edmonton, made public a laundry list of complaints against Rehn, including missed meetings and failure to represent the area for economic development.

They claim Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, doesn’t even live in Alberta (or Canada), saying he resides in Texas.

“When Covid-19 began and the Canadian government said Canadians need to get home, you were in the United States. Since that time, you have made multiple trips abroad. In fact, right now, as our businesses suffer and many of our people aren’t working, you still aren’t here.,” said the letter signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and six other councilors

In fact, the council claims the UCP government was aware of Rehn’s performance and have asked other MLAs to pick up his work.

“We have been told that your government has internally expressed its displeasure at your performance and have arranged for neighbouring MLA’s to check in to help make sure our Region is represented,” the letter reads.

“We seem to be making little to no progress in our Region in advocating for items that are a provincial responsibility. One of the factors that we believe is contributing heavily to this is the lack of engagement from you as our MLA.”

Pat Rehn’s public expense disclosure can be found on the Alberta Legislature’s website.

This story will up updated if response from Pat Rehn is received.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Federal bureaucrats very pleased with themselves at start of pandemic

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

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“We’re good! We’re very very good!”

At least that’s what the staff at the federal Public Works department felt about themselves as COVID-19 deaths in Canada were approaching 9,000, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

“I know how difficult it has been,” wrote James Fitz-Morris, director of communications.

Fitz-Morris told staff “we should be very proud of what we put out.

“It’s a really great page that tells a great story for us,” he said July 31 as COVID deaths that day numbered 8,961.

The economy at the time had shrunk 11 percent, and unemployed totaled 2,182,600 Canadians.

A handout for reporters said: “The Government of Canada is dedicating approximately $6 billion to buying personal protective equipment, medical equipment and supplies to keep Canadians safe.”

Staff in a May 29 email exchange cautioned scriptwriters not to refer to “our government” in statements to the public. “You can say ‘our government’ but we can’t!” wrote Elizabeth Lindsay, director general of communications.

“We’re everybody’s government!” replied Fitz-Morris. “You sure are!!!!” replied Lindsay.

Cabinet in the first weeks of the pandemic heaped praise on federal managers for their pandemic response. At one press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described public health officers as national celebrities.

“I have observed as a former journalist that chief public health officers across the whole country have become this generation’s rock stars,” Freeland said April 14.

“Thanks to public servants who have been working around the clock,” Prosperity Minister Mona Fortier told the Commons finance committee May 28.

“Our amazing world class civil servants, they are doing an amazing job,” Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen told the Commons June 17.

“Many public servants are working hard to develop and deliver support to Canadians,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos testified at a May 8 hearing of the Commons government operations committee.

“Federal employees are continuing to be productive in their efforts to provide Canadians with the government services they depend on every day, and to provide critical services and the many new measures quickly developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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O’Toole hires former Huawei executive

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

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Tory party leader Erin O’Toole has hired a former top executive of the controversial Chinese firm Huawei.

O’Toole brought on board Jake Enwright, who was Huawei Canada Vice President & Director of Corporate Affairs. He will handle research and issues management for the Conservatives.

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

Enwright worked for former Tory leader Andrew Scheer, leaving his office in 2018.

Many countries around the world have banned Huawei claiming it would allow the Chinese to use the 5G system to spy on their countries.

Canada and its Five Eyes allies — the U.K., New Zealand and Australia — are under pressure from fellow member, the U.S., to ban Huawei on security grounds.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still hasn’t made a decision on whether to allow it in Canada.

“Unlike Justin Trudeau, I don’t take entities of the Chinese regime at their word. If I’m PM Huawei will be banned from 5G,” tweeted Tory leader O’Toole on September 17.

It cames on the day, the Globe and Mail reported Huawei had communicated to Ottawa that it promised not to spy on Canada.

“Huawei Canada has put together a legal agreement between the company and the federal government that outlines a ‘no back-door, no-spying’ pledge,” the Globe reported from their sources.

Ottawa has spent almost two years studying whether to allow Huawei into 5G networks.

Bell Canada and Telus Corp have announced they will not partner with Huawei in their 5G network and instead go with Ericsson and Nokia.

Both companies use Huawei in their 4G networks.

Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on on December 1, 2018, following an extradition request from U.S. officials who alleged she violated sanctions on doing business with Iran.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China days later and were later charged with espionage.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Hamilton police drop COVID mask caper

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

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Hamilton police have dropped the case into the theft of millions of COVID-19 masks from the hamilton airport, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

“A report on their investigation was completed in October which found there were no additional investigative leads to pursue,” said Stéfanie Hamel, spokesperson for the department.

“The products were not recovered.”

Two million surgical masks, part of a shipment of 34 tonnes of pandemic supplies, were pilfered from a CargoJet warehouse at Hamilton last July. The department concealed the robbery at the time.

Hamel said the masks were “stolen between Saturday, July 4 and Monday, July 6” when the heist was reported to police. Authorities did not estimate the value of the loss but charter aircraft costs alone ranged from $500,000 to $800,000.

Hamilton’s airport authority Thursday said it only learned of the robbery when alerted by Blacklock’s.

“We comply with aviation regulations to ensure the airfield is safe and secure,” managers at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport said in a statement.

“Services related to the storage or movement of goods by ground transportation from the airport are controlled by the respective cargo carriers.”

The robbery was disclosed in an internal Department of Public Works email.

Staff said they only learned of the heist when a shipment by Purolator truck from Hamilton to a federal warehouse in Vaudreuil, Que. failed to appear.

“A shipment of approximately two million surgical masks was picked up at the CargoJet warehouse,” wrote staff. “Canada has been advised by Purolator that the masks were not picked up by one of their subcontractors as scheduled.”

The robbery occurred after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Hamilton airport publicly announced the shipment.

CargoJet has declined comment on the robbery. Purolator also refused to respond to questions.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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