Deputy Premier spends big on furniture amidst budget cuts

By Riley Hill

Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman released documents during question period on Nov.4 showing that Alberta Deputy Premier and Minister of Advanced Education Thomas Lukaszuk spent over $10,000 of taxpayers’ money on new furniture for his office this April.

The new furniture charged to the Government of Alberta included a $4,500 conference table, a $1,500 computer desk and a $252 pencil drawer.

The documents, which Sherman obtained through a freedom of information request, also contain emails sent from interior designer Veronica Wake regarding the renovations to Lukaszuk’s office.

“Other than the Ikea chair (to match existing) everything else is from the Knoll standing offer so we don’t need to go for competitive pricing,” reads Wake’s email, sent to Alberta Government facility manger Donald Sieffert. “One other thing — the deputy premier has requested that the built in millwork in his office be stained darker and change out the door pulls on it as well. I do have a couple of styles for him to review.”

The total cost of the new furniture and renovations came out to $10,750.

When asked about the new furniture in the Alberta legislature during question period, Lukaszuk defended the purchase, saying it was necessary for his office staff.

“The furniture was for staff that work in our office,” Lukaszuk said. “They work long hours, and they need to have furniture that is safe and appropriate, much like any constituency office that many of them have benefited from.”

The document released by Sherman contains several proposed layouts clearly showing the furniture was purchased for Lukaszuk’s personal office.

Sherman said he thinks these purchases were inappropriate given the post-secondary budget cuts that happened less than a month earlier.

“This fancy new furniture was bought right at the same time when his government was inflicting the worse cuts to post-secondary education in decades,” he said.

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