Tuesday, October 02, 2012

"Drink orange juice Premier Redford it's cheaper!"

Alison Redford ordered in $24 coffee on taxpayers dime and other revelations from her expense reports

Keith Gerein and Karen Kleiss
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Alberta Premier Alison Redford talks to the media at the McDougall Centre in Calgary, Alberta on October 1, 2012. (Leah Hennel/Post Media News)

 EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford has released copies of all her travel, hosting and meal expenses from the nearly five years she has served in government.

The receipts and expense forms date from the time when she first became an MLA in March 2008, through her four years as justice minister and the past year as premier.

A quick analysis of the receipts offers a glimpse into the daily life of a top-level politician. They show a mix of relatively inexpensive meals along with a handful of much more costly bills, particularly when Redford has travelled on government business.

As premier, Redford has almost always flown in business class, including a $12,000 fare for a trip to China in June. That trip also saw Redford charge about $2,900 for an interpreter for three days of meetings and $1,280 for photos to be taken.

On an excursion to Washington, D.C., earlier in June, the premier had a $915 bill for one night’s stay in the Hay-Adams hotel.
The Waldorf-Astoria hotel (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

There was also an expensive two-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. The premier ordered room service coffee at one point, which came to more than $24 with taxes and fees added on.

The premier’s office said late Tuesday that the coffee was for four people.

In November 2011, on her first trip as premier to the United States, Redford had a $565 bill for her stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, Virginia.
There was also an unused $648 room charge at Hotel Giraffe in New York that the province couldn’t cancel. A note on the expense form says, “Program change after hotel contract signed.”

The receipts show a handful of pricey meals, though also a large number of relatively inexpensive options, including several orders from the Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House on 101st Street in Edmonton and Nellie’s café in Calgary.

Another favourite breakfast spot for Redford has been the Harvest Room at the Hotel Macdonald.

She also had breakfast with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary in June. That meal cost $80 for four people.

The premier’s office said the expenses released Tuesday are being touted as an example of what is required of government ministers and senior officials under a new expense disclosure policy that came into effect October 1.

Although Redford did not have to disclose any of the receipts prior to October 1, a spokeswoman for the premier said she wanted to set an example for her colleagues to follow. Under the new policy, detailed receipts and expense forms must be made public.

There has been considerable focus on travel, hosting and meal bills charged to taxpayers in recent months following public outrage over lavish expenses submitted by former health executive Allaudin Merali.

The premier’s receipts released Tuesday do not include those from the Redford’s most recent mission to the London Olympics. However a basic travel report unveiled Monday showed the province lost nearly $114,000 on unused hotel rooms in London.

The province said the mission was scaled down from initial plans and the hotel could not resell the extra rooms that had been booked.


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