EDMONTON – Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason says the government shouldn’t even consider spending $12 million on new international offices.
Documents obtained by the New Democrats include a report from International Relations Minister Cal Dallas that outline how the money could be spent over three years.
Another report recommends new postings in San Francisco, Chicago, China, India, Singapore and Brazil.
Mason said the offices are just an excuse for the government Tories to send friends and insiders to exotic locations. He suggested some of the proposed offices make no sense politically.
“Perhaps the Ministry of International and Intergovernmental Relations didn’t notice that the capital of California is the inland city Sacramento, not waterfront San Francisco,” Mason said in a release Wednesday.
“The same for Rio de Janeiro, which is the tourist capital of Brazil, but certainly not the industrial or political powerhouse.
“These are great places for PC patronage appointments, but it’s hard to understand how this will improve life for Albertans.”
Dallas would not confirm the information cited by the NDP. He said no final decisions have been made on new trade offices.
He said the government will release its new international strategy next month and any new trade offices will be staffed by people selected in open competitions.
Dallas said more offices are needed to help open new markets for Alberta-produced goods.
“It is the Number One economic priority of the province of Alberta,” he said.
“There are new opportunities that are opening up around the globe. Seeking out and supporting new business opportunities, new economic activities globally is critically important to pay for the kinds of services that Albertans need and expect.”
Dallas said when possible, the province wants to locate new trade offices in buildings that are used by Canadian consulates or other federal offices.
Mason said the money would be better spent on post-secondary education, pharmacare for seniors and services for Albertans with disabilities.
He said voters are tired of the government spending millions on offices and trips overseas that mean nothing to everyday Albertans.
© 2013 The Canadian Press