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Thursday, July 16 2020 @ 07:35 MDT

Schadenfreude - it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Alberta PoliticsIt would appear that my MLA, the infamous MIA-MLA Hung Pham, is in the news again. This time it's because he's under investigation by the ethics commissioner (Calgary Herald, 19 Aug 2006) for his part in a $20,000 government grant given to the Applewood Community Association. Seems the money didn't end up where it was supposed to go and the government wants it back. Pham used his position as MLA to get the money for the Community Association.

A little information is in order here. First off, Pham is alleged to live in Applewood. Specifically it is where the house he owns is. Best anyone can tell is he's never there, preferring to live in rental property in the NW. Much of the executive of the Applewood Community Association worked on Pham's campaign, and as an aside, disgraced former alderman Margo Aftergood's campaign. So Pham has strong ties to the Community Association. Pham's wife works with Margo Aftergood's husband David Aftergood. It's all a very tight knit little family operation.

It is alleged that Pham arranged for the money for the Community Association, which then went to a third organization, the Vietnamese Caodaist Society, that was ineligible for the cash. Someone with the same name as the founder of this organization then gave a large donation to Pham's constituency association. This would imply that Pham got the money from the government for his own campaign. At the very least it implies that his supporters hatched a scheme to do that. Coincidentally, Pham spent about $26,000 on his last campaign.

Pham is denying all this of course. He's trotting out his old standby of calling it a "Liberal plot" against him. For the benefit of our readers who don't understand NE Calgary politics, Pham calls anytime he gets caught doing something shady a Liberal plot. Admittedly it was the Liberals who asked the ethics commissioner to look into the matter, but one could hardly expect the Tories to to that. An interesting twist to the story is that Pham, believed to be a Lyle Olberg supporter, is also blaming people in his own party, specifically Jim Dinning supporters, for his being under investigation.

Now Pham is starting to sound like some conspiracy theorist, paranoid that the world is out to get him. There may be some truth in the Dinning supporter theory though. When I ran against Pham in the last provincial election, I was quite likely the only NDP candidate that was having Tory supporters calling him up with dirt on their candidate. I didn't use any, of course, since I'm not that kind of person, but it does show that there is a movement in the Alberta PC's that doesn't like Pham. I suspect that they see this as a way of ridding the party of this next-to-useless MLA.

Of course it remains to be seen if any dirt sticks to Pham and if it has any effect on his re-election chances. I suspect even if found guilty of a conflict of interest, heck even if he were to be found guilty of a criminal charge, it wouldn't affect his chances. Pham is capable of bringing in over a thousand members of the Vietnamese community to a nomination meeting (though my sources in his party would suggest that these are often the same person voting over and over again) so his nomination is secure. His seat is secure because he's running under the Tory banner and the people of this constituency will blindly vote for whatever bale of hay the party nominates. We shall see what happens next election.

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