fbpx
Connect with us

News

Ousted UCP MLA Rehn blames clerical error for expenses confusion

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

mm

Published

on

MLA Pat Rehn says it was all a clerical error.

A deep-dive into the expense claims of the Lesser Slave Lake MLA raised 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.

“It has come to my attention that an assistant of mine has made some errors in recording meal allowances, that I was not aware of. I apologize for this, and in the future I will make sure that I personally review all expense claims before they are submitted to the province to make sure that they are correct,” said Rehn in a Monday Facebook page entry.

” I WILL NOT be claiming any expense claims for meals in Edmonton for the entire year of 2021 as a sign of my sincere regret for this.

“I can assure my constituents and all Albertans that I try to keep public expenditures that are under my control as low as possible. In the fiscal year of 2019-2020, I had a budget of $153,222.05. At the end of the year in March 2020, I still had $41,686.22 remaining which I didn’t spend. This $41,686.22 went back to the Province to be used in other needed areas.”

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.

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

News

Judge says military accounting a major mess

Defence lawyers in the case argued army accounting was so incompetent all evidence of theft was circumstantial.

mm

Published

on

A judge in Nova Scotia says he has no doubt Canadian Armed Forces money was swiped, but military bookkeeping is so terrible he can’t say how much.

Blacklock’s Reporter said the money was discovered to be stolen from Sydney, N.S. Garrison after an internal audit faulted the Department of National Defence for mismanagement of money-losing golf and curling clubs.

In convicting a former manager of theft, Nova Scotia Provincial Court Judge Peter Ross said he was “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that tens of thousands of dollars were stolen from the Sydney Garrison, but had to estimate the loss at $28,000 due to “lax accounting practices” and “sloppy recordkeeping.”

Defence lawyers in the case argued army accounting was so incompetent all evidence of theft was circumstantial.

“There are too many holes in the bucket,” the Court was told.

David Mullins, a former Department of Public Works manager, was found guilty of theft. Mullins worked as manager of the Sydney Garrison Messes for two years handling food and liquor sales, hall rentals, petty cash, bank deposits and inventory.

Court was told bookkeepers in Halifax became alarmed when the Garrison started “going into the red” and reporting bank deposits for $4,700 “deemed suspicious because it was such a round number.”

Forensic accountants found the Garrison “did not have working cash registers” and discovered $2,800 in banknotes in a filing cabinet.

“If bottles are missing, cost is what matters,” testified Roberta Sullivan, a forensic accountant with the Department of Public Works.

“If cash is missing, retail value is what matters.”

The Garrison Messes were managed by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services branch, the same division responsible for operations of 39 military-owned sports clubs nationwide.

An earlier Non-Public Property Audit Of Special Interest Activities found the clubs lost $2.7 million annually.

The review found military clubs sold memberships to the general public in direct competition with the private sector.

“Policy dictates the combined non-military membership at a special interest activity shall not exceed 50% of the total membership,” said the report.

“Several special interest activities have requested exceptions to this, citing financial sustainability.”

“Policies require special interest activities to operate as businesses with the goal of being financially sustainable.”

“Sustainability” was widely interpreted, the report added, with unnamed club managers found to “interpret a net loss as acceptable” as long as it was subsidized by the Department of National Defence.

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

Continue Reading

News

Civil service mag promotes immunization passports

Any mandatory scheme would see Canadians required to carry proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or go to a baseball game, said the magazine.

mm

Published

on

A magazine for Canadian public service managers says the country must introduce vaccine passports, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The immunity of the population is detrimental for the safe reopening of the economy and various jurisdictions across the world are exploring the idea of immunity certificates as an enabler,” said a commentary in Canadian Government Executive, a periodical published for federal public service managers.

“After a rigorous analysis of the issue of immunity certificates, this article concludes the necessity of immunity certificates in Canada as a key enabler for the safe reopening of the society and economy in a post-Covid world.”

Any mandatory scheme would see Canadians required to carry proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or go to a baseball game, said the magazine.

“They can also be used to promote economic activities such as workplace safety, tourism etcetera,” said the periodical.

The magazine acknowledged Canadians were divided on the issue and numerous foreign jurisdictions have banned vaccine passports.

“It is important to note in the United States several states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona etcetera have either banned or prevented the mandatory use,” said the commentary.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien in a May 19 statement said vaccine passports breached the Privacy Act since they compelled users and non-users alike to disclose personal health information to access public facilities.

“There must be clear legal authority for introducing use of vaccine passports,” said Therrien, adding Parliament would require “a newly enacted public health order or law” before any mandatory scheme could be introduced.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a January 14 podcast called it a divisive issue.

“I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to get vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” said Trudeau.

“I think it’s an interesting idea but I think it is also fraught with challenges. We are certainly encouraging and motivating people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We always know there are people who won’t get vaccinated, and not necessarily through a personal or political choice.

“There are medical reasons. There are a broad range of reasons why someone might not get vaccinated. I’m worried about creating undesirable effects in our community.”

Federal research shows about 12% of Canadians would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances. A total of 26% said they did not trust the Public Health Agency, according to the Statistics Canada report.

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

Continue Reading

News

Canada Post to make bank on lending operations

The union said loans would be issued in a test project at post offices in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. and surrounding rural areas, as well as Calgary and Red Deer by year’s end.

mm

Published

on

“A roll of stamps and $30,000 please.”

That will soon be possible as, for the first time in 53 years, Albertans will be able to go to the post office for a loan.

Blacklock’s Reporter said Canada Post on Thursday confirmed outlets in Alberta and Nova Scotia will broker cash loans for the Toronto Dominion Bank.

“The market test goal is to offer the new financial service in over 249 Canada Post locations before the end of 2021,” the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said in a statement.

Post offices would offer Toronto Dominion loans of $1,000 to $30,000 at “competitive rates.”

Post offices currently sell money orders, gift cards and process electronic cash transfers but disbanded deposit-taking postal banks in 1968.

The union said loans would be issued in a test project at post offices in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. and surrounding rural areas, as well as Calgary and Red Deer by year’s end.

“CUPW continues to support the creation of an independent postal bank despite our current partnership with Toronto Dominion Bank,” said the union.

“Partnering with a financial institution does not put an end to the goal of an independent postal bank.”

Parliament in an 1867 Postal Act allowed post offices to hold cash deposits and offer cheque-cashing services. Postal banks at their peak in 1908 held the equivalent of a billion dollars on deposit.

A 2016 Department of Public Works survey found 39% of small business owners nationwide, and 44% on the Prairies, said they would use Canada Post banking services if offered.

The department paid $142,137 for the study by Ekos Research Associates Inc.

“I think Canada Post is very open to increased financial services, not necessarily ‘postal banking’,” Brenda McAuley, national president of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, said in an earlier interview.

“I think the word ‘banking’ scares a lot of people. The banks don’t think it is necessary.

“There are islands in British Columbia where people have to take a ferry to get to a bank. We will look at pilot projects. I’ve got quite a few places on my radar.”

Canada Post in its 2020 Annual Report said it was “reinventing our retail model” at 6,084 post offices nationwide, including “assessing new financial services and options” mainly in rural Canada.

“Our vast retail network of post offices and dealer outlets across the country provides convenient locations and services with many of them offering evening and weekend hours to meet the changing needs of Canadians,” wrote management.

Jessica McDonald, then-chair of the Canada Post board, in 2018 testimony at the Commons government operations committee said the Crown corporation was “very open-minded” on resuming postal bank services.

“Postal banking has been under a tremendous amount of discussion and continues to be,” said McDonald.

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

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Share

Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

170 signatures

No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

**your signature**



The Western Standard will never accept government bailout money. By becoming a Western Standard member, you are supporting government bailout-free and proudly western media that is on your side. With your support, we can give Westerners a voice that doesn\'t need taxpayers money.

Share this with your friends:

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard New Media Corp.