Friday, 27 April 2012

Alberta - Convenient Release of Mar Ethics Report

The Alberta government chose a Friday afternoon to release the results of the Ethics report on Gary Mar.  Even though the information was apparently available well ahead of the election on April 23rd. 

During the campaign it was reported that Mar had been reinstated to his position by Redford’s deputy minister, Peter Watson, well before the televised Leaders’ debate.  At the time, the PC campaign and Redford insisted they had seen nothing of the report despite the close connections with the Premier’s office.

Gary Mar, who faced Redford during the Progressive Conservative Party Leadership campaign an lost in the third ballot, was handpicked by Redford as the Alberta envoy to Asia in Hong Kong.  He was   investigated after auctioning off a trip to his Hong Kong government office at a personal fundraiser earlier this year organized to help him pay off PC leadership debts. The trip reportedly fetched $20,000.

Alison Redford suspended Mar without pay and ordered and ethics investigation.  She referred the investigation to the Deputy Minister of Executive Council, Peter Watson, who is responsible for administering the Code of Conduct and Ethics for the Public Service which applies to senior officials in the Government of Alberta.  He apparently hired an independent investigator and legal advice. 

When queried about the report, during the election campaign, Redford said she was not aware of any report.  Then just a few days after the election, on a Friday, the report is released, with the following findings:
  • The wording of the invitation was changed when concerns were raised to make it clear that the dinner was a private affair
  • Mr. Mar was not involved in the direct solicitation of funds from the dinner
  • The funds raised from the dinner did not relate to the discharge of Mr. Mar's duties in public office;
  • None of the funds raised from the dinner would be paid to Mr. Mar
  • No information was conveyed to attendees that was not freely available to the public
  • No special access was provided to or expected by the winner of a trip to Hong Kong auctioned at the dinner
The investigation found that there was no conflict of interest and Mar is returning to his duties in Hong Kong.

Obviously Alison Redford wanted to avoid any controversy and criticism during the election.  The Wildrose Party was quick to respond.  Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith commented on the report and said that the transaction involving Mr. Mar does not pass the smell test.

 “Regardless of the report, this transaction involving Mr. Mar doesn’t pass the smell test,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “Ms. Redford should force Mr. Mar to repay the $20,000 as a condition of remaining on the job.” Source Wildrose Party

Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson criticized Redford for fumbling the Mar file from the start by keeping the report behind closed doors and by handing out a patronage posting in the first place.

“Redford is building a reputation of wanting to keep the public in the dark, whether it’s her time as Justice Minister creating laws that shroud illegal donation investigations into secrecy, or punting important issues until after the election,” Anderson said.  “It’s time to hold an open and transparent competitive process for international offices instead of continuing on with the PC pattern of giving plum patronage postings to party officials.”

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, in all likelihood it's a duck. 


  1. Rational Person said:

    Danielle Smith's comments are irrelevant. She lost all credibility during the election when she refused to condemn comments made by her candidates, refuted the science of climate change and then finally refused to take any blame for her election loss and fingered Leech and Hunsperger exclusively for the election loss.

    What kind of leader exclusively blames someone else for the loss? Not a very good one! Had she expelled Leech and Hunsperger from the party and kept her crazy views on climate change to herself, she may have done better. But we've all seen her true colours now and there's no undoing it. The best thing she could do is step down as leader of the party.

    Don't get me wrong, the PCs have done some things wrong and they needed a wake up call. I've never been a supporter of the PC party in the past, but I think for many level headed non-extremist Albertans the Wildrose party represent values and political views that don't belong in Alberta or anywhere in Canada for that matter. They are "USA Republican" right wing and by and large we don't want the problems the USA has migrating their way to Canada because our social programs have either been cut or privatized under a Wildrose government.

    I stand among the people who think the PCs needed to be taught a lesson, but I wasn't about to throw away the things I believe make Alberta and Canada a great place to live (public health care and the best education system) to prove that point.

    Cutting off your nose to spite your face will most certainly prove a point, but you'll have to live with the results for a very long time which is not a very palatable thought.

  2. Rational Person, Thank you for your comments. I am not sure what happened to your comments on this blog, but somehow they disappeared. I have pasted them here as I received them in my e-mail.

    You are entitled to your opinion, but I respectfully disagree with them. The conscience issues were invented by the PC campaign, even though the Redford campaign had candidates with similar views, Ted Morton being one of them. He even went as far as introducing legislation on the gay issue.

    While I don't condone those comments by anyone, there is such a thing as freedom of speech. Why is it only the Left that is permitted to raise these issues. Have we become that politically correct?

    In my lifetime, which spans over six decades, I have been fortunate enough to see many corners of this globe during my military service and coincidentally I have also worked with dysfunctional organizations like the UN. I'll leave it at that.

    I am a proud Canadian that respects our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but it should apply to everyone.

    Danielle Smith did not blame the loss of the election, if you can call gaining 16 seats from four years ago a loss, on anyone. She merely commented on what resonated with the electorate, which basically was fear mongering. She also said that it was not party policy what these candidates said.

    On the climate change issue, she merely stated that the science had not been settled, but added that that was no reason not to act and pledged to act.

    The fact is that green energy at this time is not ready for prime time, but that doesn't mean that we should not pursue it along with what we have available now, keeping the environment in mind.

    I find it personally amazing that we keep talking about green energy and demonize fossil fuels, while we still get our electricity in Alberta primarily from coal, which is far worse than any carbons emitted at the Alberta Oil Sands.

    I would put to you that our problem is not our energy source, but consumption. If we all feel so hell bent for leather to condemn fossil fuels, why don't we cut our consumption or offer to fork out the extra dollars needed.

    When Stephan Dion talked about a carbon tax during his election run, the Canadian electorate rejected him.

    Out here in the country I can see how the environment is the top priority each weekend. You wouldn't believe it if you saw the trash on the roads and in the bush. It is a sad testament.

    No Danielle Smith shouldn't step down as leader. She should hold Alison Redford accountable. After all there will be a major shake up, according to her.

    The key, in my opinion, is to quit listening to sound bytes, but pay attention to what is really being said. The Wildrose website has comprehensive policy statements and perhaps they should be read, instead of sticking our head in the sand while our rights are being trampled on by the PC government. (Transmission lines, property rights, health care.

    Reference Health Care, Smith talked about publicly funded private health care to supplement our public system. Of course this is a non starter, we would rather be stuck with promises, more money spending and waiting lines.

    Check out this article entitled "Germany's hospital system works"