Northern Alberta municipal councillor attempts to pass a cash grab during pandemic

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on April 13, 2020

In The Municipal District of Opportunity, on March 25, one of the members of the district council put forward a vote to increase the pay of each member of the council by $50 a day.

Darlene Jackson Councillor for Wabasca Ward 1, put forward the motion which would give all 10 MD of Opportunity councilors, and reeve, an honorarium of $50 a day during the COVID19 pandemic, which could last for several more months.

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 5.37.13 PM.png

The only reasoning that went along with the motion was that councillors should receive “compensation” without any clear explanation of what the councillors needed compensation for.

The motion was defeated with only Councillor Victor Gladue, and Jackson herself voting in favor, with all the other councillors, reeve, and deputy reeve, voting it down.

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 4.49.38 PM.png

Although the increase would be relatively small for a major Albertan city like Calgary or Edmonton, the MD of Opportunity only has a population of 3,181 people. Members of the council are already paid $91,000 per year, plus claimed expenses, and the $50 daily honorarium over a single month would cost an extra $16,500.

The MD of Opportunity council hasn’t exactly ever been free of scandal. Back in 2018, the current Deputy Reeve Everett Gottfried was taken to court, after his latest election victory, by his competitor and second cousin John Garry Gullion. 

The charge against Gottfriend was election fraud for offering dried moose meat on social media to those who voted for him. The court decided in favour of Gottfried seeing that the social media post was very likely a joke. 

It still goes to show how tense even small-town municipal politics can get.

In the case of the $50 per day honorarium, due to the lack of any substantial reason for the pay raise for the councilors, and the lack of support on council for the motion, it may have been mere political opportunism during a worldwide pandemic Councillor Jackson was trying to take advantage of.

Regardless of the reason for the motion, it should be highlighted that nine other councilors defeated the motion during a time when governments cannot be wasting money on frivolous expenses, especially backdoor pay increases.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

Comments are closed.