EDMONTON, AB: The appointment of Mark Wells, former NDP campaign communications strategist and AUPE communications manager, to run the Public Affairs Bureau (PAB) shows a hypocritical acceleration of the politicization of the public service by the NDP, the Wildrose Official Opposition said (Thursday).
In opposition, Premier Rachel Notley and former NDP leader Brian Mason were frequent critics of the previous government’s politicization of the PAB:
“There’s obviously been a large amount of public funds pumped through the public affairs bureau. If it is being used to give contracts to Tory friends and insiders, then I want to know about it and I think the public does as well.” – Brian Mason, Edmonton Journal, February 25, 2009
“They voted for their taxpayers’ dollars to be used wisely, and political messaging for the Progressive Conservative party is not, I think, what most Albertans would suggest is a wise use.” – Rachel Notley, CBC, June 5, 2013
“The PAB is supposed to be the non-partisan wing of government to communicate with Albertans, but it’s clear it will continue its lousy history of being nothing more than a partisan wing of the premier’s office,” Wildrose Shadow Accountability Minister Jason Nixon said. “Albertans were hoping that a new government would at least end these types of practices, instead it’s just more of the same.”
Wells will now be making a salary between $156,257 to $217,589 this year, and between $160,163 to $223,029 next year.
The NDP already transplanted former BC NDP partisan John Heaney in the top ranks of the civil service as Deputy Minister of Policy and Planning and were recently investigated for improper hiring practices in staffing MLA offices.
“It is increasingly looking like the only way to be hired into the Notley public service is to be a card carrying member of the NDP,” Nixon said. “When Albertans are worried about jobs and the economy, the last thing they want is to see more of the same old backroom politics coming out of the legislature.”