The Alberta NDP is calling out the UCP after learning that a top government official from the previous administration is still on its payroll, raking in cash.
"[David Knight Legg, principal advisor to former Premier Jason Kenney,] billed taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to stay in the finest hotels, including marble bathrooms, vitamin showers, and an art nouveau champagne bar," alleged NDP MLA Deron Bilous.
Bilous noted Knight Legg no longer works for the government nor Invest Alberta but is still getting paid a generous salary by taxpayers.
"He is a symbol of all the waste and entitlement of the Jason Kenney government. In estimates, we found that Albertans still pay Knight Legg almost $10,000 monthly."
The UCP defended the latter, adding, "it's important to get the Alberta brand out there to generate leads and build the relationships and, ultimately, close deals," according to Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson.
Wilson claimed Knight Legg facilitated investment leads for Invest Alberta, including EV battery manufacturing, family office investments, energy companies and private equity firms.
"Given that he left that role after less than a year but stuck around as an adviser to the board and given that he's still being paid by Albertans while living in Singapore even though Alberta already has a trade office in Singapore," said Bilous.
The NDP MLA claimed the former top government official expensed tens of thousands of dollars to Alberta taxpayers while earning almost $200,000 as a principal adviser to Kenney and $250,000 as Invest Alberta CEO.
"Given that all we know is that he stayed in a boutique hotel which promises a one-of-a-kind luxury hotel experience at home to aristocrats since 1867 and invites guests to release their inner bon vivant and given that it's not clear what Knight Legg accomplished in his role besides racking up points on his credit cards," said Bilous.
He asked the UCP government in Question Period what deliverables Knight Legg achieved at the cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
"I'm proud to say that our sponsorship with Alpine Canada was a three-year agreement, and it started in 2021, and it's in its last year now," said Wilson. "This agreement provides advertising and branding opportunities for Invest Alberta at key Nordic events."
The minister claimed opportunities like these aim to attract investment from European businesses and audiences overseas watching the events.
"They're also opportunities to host events, with some citing Alpine events as their catalyst for finally deciding to come to Alberta," he said.
Bilous called the Alpine Canada investment a "$750,000 boondoggle."
Bilous then asked the UCP government why it is still shovelling cash at someone with a "terrible record" of "abusing" taxpayer dollars.
"I find it rich coming from the members opposite," said Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews.
"It's ridiculous hearing from the members opposite about their concern for taxpayers' dollars. When they were in office, they didn't respect Alberta taxpayers for one minute."
"They raised taxes. They brought in a regulatory burden. They chased tens of billions of dollars of investment out, with it 183,000 jobs and perpetual deficits. We've done better," he claimed.