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Duffy - is that you? Alberta MLA carts out senator's defence to brush off criticism of sublet: Robyn Urback

Duffy - is that you? Alberta MLA carts out senator's defence to brush off criticism of sublet: Robyn Urback
From CBC - August 11, 2017

"$2,555 over 8 months letting out my Edmonton home while unused," tweeted Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt Thursday morning, responding to reports he has been renting out his taxpayer-subsidized Edmonton condo on Airbnb. "I wo not let smear distract from real issues."

You said it, Derek! Let's get back to talking about the real issues: government waste, misuse of taxpayer dollars and gross political entitlement. Oh, wait. Um this is awkward.

$2,555 over 8 months letting out my Edmonton home while unused. I wo not let smear distract from real issues & donate to the AB debt. #ableg

@Dfildebrandt

Fildebrandt the United Conservative Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks and, ironically, the former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation claimed $7,720 in housing expenses between Jan. 1 and March31 for his downtown Edmonton condo. MLAs from outside of Edmonton are allotted $23,160 each fiscal year to cover living expenses in the Alberta capital.

This subsidy is based on the expectation that elected representatives will serve on the public's behalf in exchange for taxpayers footing the bill for their time in Edmonton. It is not based on the expectation that an MLA will personally profit by also subletting out his space for, say, $50 to $80 anight.

Fildebrandt justified his entrepreneurial gambit as simply something that millennials do, telling the Edmonton Journal: "Find someone under 35 with a downtown apartment that does not let their apartment if they are gone half the year."

"It would be a wasteto have an apartment that sits empty half of the year and not let it out when I am gone out of session."

Fildebrandt is quite right; it would be a waste to leave his apartment empty half the year.

But there's a very simple solution that would seethe space occupied and avoid this apparent media "smear," as Fildebrandt calls it: rent out the space, then subtract those Airbnb earnings from the housing reimbursement he collects from taxpayers.

Fildebrandt has belatedly realized he should probably do that nowand has pledged to donate $2,555 to paying down Alberta's debt. Better late after news reports and censure from fellow MLAs than never, I suppose.

The Duffy defence

The detail that's particularly remarkable about this little episode is that Fildebrandt trotted out the Mike Duffy excuse in defending himself against accusations of double-dipping. Of all the people from whom to borrow a line.

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