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Premier denies appointment of ex-MLA to Houston trade job is patronage

Premier Jason Kenney is facing accusations of political patronage for hiring the former UCP MLA who resigned in November 2017 so Kenney could run for his seat in the legislature.

Dave Rodney resigned in 2017 so Jason Kenney could win seat in Alberta Legislature

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, right, looks on as Dave Rodney announces his resignation as MLA for Calgary-Lougheed in October 2017. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Premier Jason Kenney is facing accusations of political patronage for hiring the former UCP MLA who resigned in November 2017 so Kenney could run for his seat in the Alberta Legislature.

On Tuesday, Dave Rodney was announced agent general of the Houston, Texas, office of Invest Alberta, a corporation created by Bill 33, introduced in the legislature Tuesday.

Rodney's resignation triggered a byelection in December 2017 which allowed Kenney, then the newly-elected UCP leader, to win a seat in the legislature.

Rodney's appointment and the $250,000 salary that comes with it are raising questions given his history with Kenney. 

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says there's little in Rodney's background that suggests he is qualified for the job. 

"What we have is an incredibly rich salary, for a job that they just made up, to someone who's not really qualified to do it," Notley said on Wednesday. 

"So I think we just have to ask Albertans to add one plus one plus one to get an inside deal to help Jason Kenney's friend and insider whose biggest political achievement was stepping aside for Jason Kenney." 

Kenney deflected claims he was rewarding Rodney for giving up his seat, which he said Rodney approached him about, not the other way around. 

"He never asked for any kind of consideration in the future. He has been working in the private sector since that time," Kenney told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. 

Rodney was first elected to the Alberta legislature as a Progressive Conservative in 2004. He became a UCP MLA following the PC merger with the Wildrose party in the summer of 2017.

Kenney said Rodney's political background will be helpful for working with U.S. politicians. He noted Rodney worked as executive director of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis after leaving politics, where he promoted the Bow Valley. 

Kenney said there was a short-list of possible candidates for the Houston position and Rodney "just stood out to me as the kind of go-getter that we need." 

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