Government slammed for ‘patronage’ plum, New NAIT chairman also a top Tory official

Government slammed for ‘patronage’ plum, New NAIT chairman also a top Tory official by Darcy Henton, October 7, 2007, The Edmonton Journal
Alberta opposition leaders are slamming Ed Stelmach’s government for appointing another top Tory to a plum post. City lawyer Doug Goss, the Progressive Conservative party’s election campaign co-chair, was appointed Wednesday to chair NAIT’s board of governors. Goss, who also serves as the party’s northern vice-president of finance, has been a public member of the NAIT board for the past four years. He also serves on the Capital Health board and the Alberta Economic Development Authority and was appointed to the Alberta Environmental Protection Commission. … But NDP Leader Brian Mason said the appointment shows nothing has changed on the patronage front since former premier Ralph Klein left office. “It just shows that the best way to advance to the various boards and committees of this province — some of which have very handsome honorariums — is to be a well-connected Tory,” said NDP leader Brian Mason. “You can’t get better connected than Doug Goss.”

Alberta Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy called the appointment “sickening.” “Patronage is a crime and in other jurisdictions heads would roll.”

A Journal investigation last month found that party members, and particularly members of the party’s senior executive, hold key posts on many of the province’s agencies, boards and commissions. Eight of the NAIT board’s 12 members have been card-carrying members of the Tory party. Last year the trade school named its new south campus after Klein. Mason, who delivered a slab of bacon to the premier’s office earlier this month when Tory MLA Gary Mar was named as Alberta’s new envoy in Washington, said he might have to buy a ham this time.

“These boards of governors of these various post-secondary institutions will be falling over themselves to name a building after Mr. Stelmach or to give him an honourary degree.” Conservative party members fill nearly half of all the positions on the 100 boards examined by the Journal. … Board members have told the panel that appointments should be based on merit and competency and that “purely political appointments should be discouraged.” Stelmach has said that eliminating Tories from boards would bar a large pool of skilled Albertans from service.

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