Two other Canadian politicians — besides Liberal infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi — received hundreds of thousands of dollars of “transition allowance” upon leaving the Alberta legislature, Global News has learned.
Former MLA Len Webber received more than $324,000 in a transition allowance when he quit his job to run for the federal Conservatives. Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr also received up to $131,000 in transitional allowance after leaving the Alberta legislature.
A spokesperson from Minister Hehr’s office said, “like every outgoing member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Mr. Hehr received a transition allowance.”
Webber served as a member of Alberta’s legislature for 10 years; he was the government whip under former premier Alison Redford. He quit his job the day after he won the nomination to run for the Conservatives, and was paid out sometime before March 31, 2015.
Webber makes no apologies for the pay day.
“There’s no question I was entitled to that,” Webber said.
“It’s up to every MLA’s prerogative whether to take the transitional allowance or not, and I chose so, and I have no issues with that whatsoever.”
The politician’s lack of remorse enrages the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
“If they can’t understand that this is an entitlement that people in the real world — the taxpayers that are paying their salaries, that are paying these transitional allowances don’t get for themselves — well that just shows how out of touch they really are,” CTF Alberta director Paige MacPherson said.
Accepting the money is well within the rules, but politicians aren’t required to take it when they leave a provincial job, as Conservative MP Gerard Deltell proves.
“I decided to let half-a-million of dollars on the table,” Deltell said. “That’s my personal choice. I’m a Conservative, proud of that, a real Conservative, thinking first and foremost for the wallet of the middle class.”
Webber suggests it’s a personal choice.
“He chose to not accept the transitional allowance, I chose to accept it,” Webber said, referring to Deltell. “It was something that I had earned over the 11 years that I was an MLA, as other MLAs accepted their transitional allowances as well.”
The question of municipal and provincial politicians accepting severance or “transition” packages when making the move to Ottawa has been top of mind this week, with The Globe and Mail reporting on Wednesday that former Gatineau city councillor Stéphane Lauzon had accepted a retirement allowance of $12,931 and a transition allowance of $56,540 when he quit his job to take a new one on Parliament Hill.
Lauzon won the riding of Argenteuil-La Petite-Nation for the Liberals on Oct. 19, and has since been appointed parliamentary secretary for sport and persons with disabilities. His duties earn him a total salary of $184,000 per year.
But the transitional allowance is no longer available in Alberta: it was phased out in 2012 by then-premier Alison Redford. The rules didn’t apply to MLAs like Webber who were in the legislature prior to 2012, so he cashed in.
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