Premier Jim Prentice defends $13,000 for big screen TVs

Premier Jim Prentice says the government spent $13,000 to buy four 80-inch television screens to save money on travel by cabinet ministers.

Video screens, not TVs, Prentice calls new 80-inch sets

Premier Jim Prentice defended the purchase of four 80-inch televisions to video-conference cabinet meetings. (CBC )

The government spent $13,000 to buy four 80-inch television screens to save money on travel by cabinet ministers, Premier Jim Prentice says. 

The screens will be set up in cabinet rooms in the Alberta legislature and the McDougall Centre in Calgary and in two rooms in the Federal Building in Edmonton. 

They will be used to video-conference cabinet meetings as the government is trying to avoid flying or driving ministers to bring them together, Prentice said at an event in Leduc on Wednesday. 

"These are not television sets, they are video screens so that we can have a meeting with ministers in two different places."

Critics say the government should use the 65-inch televisions it already owns. But Prentice said the smaller screen did not work well when was used for meetings last fall.

"It kept crashing and we kept having meetings that we would have to reschedule," he said.

Prentice said the government put the purchase out to tender to get a competitive bid.

Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw said the expenditure is not appropriate while the government levies new taxes.

"Expenses like this are right under his control," he said. "There must be an aura of entitlement within the premier's office to think this would be acceptable to Albertans while at the same time they are raising taxes."

Saskiw also blasted Prentice and other ministers of electioneering for making multiple announcements each day.

He called on Prentice to come clean on when he's planning on calling an election.

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