Alberta MLAs set to cash in golden handshakes

Outgoing MLAs are just days away from cashing in on golden handshakes — some worth more than $1 million.

Salary review to be completed by May

Alberta Legislature Speaker Ken Kowalski is retiring from provincial politics after 33 years. (CBC)

Some MLAs are just days away from cashing in on golden handshakes — some worth more than $1 million.

Former premier Ed Stelmach will get a reported $1 million, and Speaker Ken Kowalski, first elected to the legislature in 1979, is set to receive $1.2 million.

"This is a wonderful democracy in the province of Alberta," Kowalski said during his farewell speech Thursday. "Alberta is very well served by its elected representatives. Albertans should be very proud."

This month, revelations that some MLAs were paid at least $1,000 a month for belonging to a committee that hasn't met in more than three years angered many potential voters.

On Friday, people were again angry, this time because of how much MLAs get when they retire. Michael Kirby of Edmonton said they're already paid a lot.

"I mean that's our money they get," he said. "I mean, what do they do? A lot of people work really hard and sweat every day and retire with next to nothing."

Wayne McGuire said the retirement money made him think he chose the wrong line of work.

"I should be a politician instead."

Some Liberal MLAs, including Kevin Taft and Hugh MacDonald, are leaving office with severance close to $500,000.

It's not clear yet, whether the severance packages will play a significant in the upcoming election campaign.

One of Kowalski's last duties was to appoint retired Supreme Court of Canada judge John C. (Jack) Major to review MLAs' salaries and perks.

"All of the benefits MLAs receive need to be clarified," said Premier Alison Redford. "They need to be put together in a way that Albertans can understand and I think that has to be part of it."

The review began in January and should be completed by May.