Alberta NDP MLA Stephanie McLean pre-planned two months’ worth of absences from the Alberta Legislature, following four months of unverifiable work.
Even the Speaker’s Office is unable to verify the credibility of McLean's self- reporting, saying it operates the Absence Reports on the "honour system." McLean has received over $67,000 in salary since the last evidence of her doing any work.
Former NDP cabinet minister and MLA Stephanie McLean resigned from office on the first business day of 2019, ensuring that no by-election would be held in her riding of Calgary-Varsity. Varsity is the riding in which Notley's handpicked communist advisor, Anne McGrath, is currently seeking election. (Not an exaggeration: McGrath was literally a Communist Party candidate back in the day).
Since getting the boot from Rachel Notley's cabinet in early 2018, according to the Cheryl Oats in the Premier's Office, there's no evidence that Stephanie McLean actually did any work since - as reported by the Calgary Herald.
Being an MLA is a sweet job. When the legislature is not sitting, (which is most of the year), there are absolutely no job requirements and no one supervising you to make sure you're actually serving taxpayers. The only time MLAs are actually monitored is when the legislature is sitting. After she was removed from Cabinet, the only way we could prove that Stephanie McLean was actually working was whether or not she showed up to the Legislature. Spoiler: she didn’t.
Since the Legislature has been prorogued, I was finally granted access to the Members’ Absence Reports filed by Stephanie McLean. Back to the start of January when Stephanie McLean resigned, I asked the Speaker's Office for access these documents. Over the course of the next three months, they denied my request repeatedly for many different reasons, saying first that they were not completed, and then changing their story, saying I could only view them after the legislative session ended. By the time I was able to view them, they had been filed by McLean for 152 days.
To add insult to injury, instead of letting me view the documents in the MacDougall Centre, the government's southern Alberta office in Calgary, they said I would have to drive all the way up to Edmonton from Calgary, bring a pen and paper, and look at the document in a closed room. When bureaucrats make viewing documents difficult, they should know it just makes Rebel reporters want to view them even more.
It turns out that this election dodger, Stephanie McLean, submitted 27 total absences. In order to avoid having your MLA salary docked, McLean had to provide a reason for her absence to the Speaker's Office. Her given reason was “illness/injury.”.The notice was submitted in advance for the remainder of her term as an MLA. Clever.
After reading that she had a pre-planned illness or injury for two months, and knowing that she is employed at a law firm in Victoria, British Columbia, I asked the Chief of Staff in the Speaker’s Office to provide me with some sort of proof that this claim was legit. An affidavit, or even a doctor’s note, even would have done the trick. Nope. Nothing. Nada.
The head staffer in the Speaker's Office told me that these absence reports work on the honour system, and there's no way to tell if McLean was honestly sick or hurt.
So: $67,000. That is what Stephanie McLean owes Alberta taxpayers, unless she is able to provide evidence that she was working for them. When you step into such a financially lucrative and powerful role, you have an obligation to be accountable. McLean has so far failed in that regard.
Here's what I think happened: McLean saw the writing on the wall and decided she wanted out. To leave with her head held high, I think she wanted to leave in June, when she was given the boot from Cabinet. If she left then at that time, it would have triggered a by-election – which is unacceptable for Rachel Notley, who could not afford an embarrassing loss so close to the end of her government. It would seal her fate in the Alberta general election. To postpone the election in Calgary-Varsity, Stephanie McLean just pretended to do her job, and submitted two months’ worth of absence reports ahead of time (in a single day) in order to delay her ridings writ and save Notley an embarrassing defeat.
That's what I think at least, given the evidence we have access to.