Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sexy, pretty taxpayer toes but cheap, cheap, cheap with her own money!

Good Day Readers:

Alberta Premier Alison Redford is really something else! According to a recent report by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as of January 9, 2014:
  • The province's debt stood at over $7.7 billion and growing
  • That's more than $11.2 million daily
  • $465 thousand plus every hour
  • At least $7,754 per minute
  • A minimum $129 a second
Yet there she is, and some of her staff, galavanting first class on global junkets. But it just gets better.

In September 2012 the Redford administration in a press release entitled, Alberta to lead the country on expense transparency and reporting. Has it not yet dawned on her that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would be all over her like a cheap shirt?

The link below is from a recent CTF analysis of Alberta's current fiscal situation and, to say the least, unlike her toes it's neither pretty or sexy. Talk about financially raping taxpayers and away a financial legacy!

Ms Redford is an exemplary, quintessential example of the Mark Twain politician which is why taxpayers/voters should have a very healthy disrespect of all of them regardless of party affiliation.

"Do as I say and not as I do."

However, as this follow up article demonstrates, the Premier is cheap, cheap, cheap when spending her own money. That woman is oblivious to reality!

Clare L. Pieuk
A $10,000 flight to save half an afternoon: Alison Redford's lavish travel irks critics

Jen Gerson
Friday, January 24, 2014

Premier of Alberta Alison Redford visits the Golden Temple in India. The trip to India cost Alberta $200,000. (Premier of Alberta/Flickr)

The funeral of Nelson Mandela behind her, Alberta Premier Alison Redford needed to get back to Edmonton, where a new cabinet would be awaiting a swearing-in ceremony.

Ms. Redford travelled to South Africa on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s aging Airbus A310, along with other Canadian dignitaries. On the way back, however, she chose to save herself a few hours by opting for commercial travel instead.

She booked a flight to Alberta from South Africa — at a cost of about $10,000.

Ms. Redford’s staff, noting there was some uncertainty about when Mr. Harper’s entourage would leave South Africa, said Ms. Redford landed in Edmonton that afternoon. The prime minister’s plane landed at 8 p.m. in Ottawa.
A spokesperson for Ms. Redford’s office, Neala Barton, said the choice was made to ensure her new cabinet could be sworn in the next morning. Her critics contend the casual lack of parsimony is in line with her habit for expensive travel.

“She’s got to have the worst travel agent in the country,” said Derek Fildebrandt, Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation. “We couldn’t even find [flights] in first class that expensive. We cannot figure out why it’s so expensive.”

In 2012, her first full year of office, Ms. Redford and her caucus spent almost $1-million travelling the world — the bulk of that budget was consumed by a delegation to the London Olympics in which the government spent $113,000 on unused hotel rooms. (The previous Premier, Ed Stelmach, spent $330,000 in 2011 and about $530,000 the year before.)

Ms. Redford’s caucus curbed costs in 2013 — to $744,130. That year included trips to China, Japan and the United States, in addition to the trip to South Africa for the funeral of Mr. Mandela, who was a personal mentor to her.

Thanks in part to a trade mission to India, the province has already spent more than $200,000 in the first few weeks of 2014.

Ms. Redford is currently in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum.

Ms. Redford and her staff point to the necessity of this kind of travel: During the mission in India the government signed two agricultural agreements, for example. Last year’s China excursion led to $355-million worth of investment, the government says.

Yet critics note that while international travel is, indeed, important, the premier tends to prefer the most lavish options on offer.

Ms. Redford and her staff have a taste for flexible fares in first and executive class, which can pump up the cost of airway tickets tenfold.

Premier of Alberta visits the Golden Temple in India. (Premier of Alberta/Flickr)

CyberSmokeBlog: "Here's coming right back at you, sister, with a taxpayer pax vobiscum!"

The premier spent almost $8,000 on a flight to New Brunswick last June to tout the east-west pipeline project, for example. She also booked a $6,000 flight to Chicago.

Critics also point to her large entourages and apparent penchant for expensive hotel rooms — a recent trip to Washington saw her sleeping at a cost of $900 per night.

Opposition leader Danielle Smith said she had no trouble with Ms. Redford racking up frequent flyer points — “These are the kinds of things premiers need to do, we want the premier out there representing Alberta’s interests’’ — but said Ms. Redford doesn’t look for opportunities to economize.

“The problem is that she’s setting a bad tone. It seems like she has to stay at the most expensive hotels, she always seems to have to fly executive first class flexible, which is the most expensive flight.”

Mr. Fildebrandt questioned the premier’s unannounced plans to visit Afghanistan, which were cancelled at the last minute due to a suicide bombing in Kabul.

Ms. Redford justified the trip by noting Alberta soldiers were stationed there, and by mentioning her personal interest in the place. Ms. Redford was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to be an International Election Commissioner, during that country’s first parliamentary elections in 2005.

“It seems unnecessary for someone who has absolutely zero responsibility for our troops in Afghanistan to visit,” Mr. Fildebrandt said.

Ms. Redford’s travel costs are difficult to compare to other premiers because Alberta’s expense disclosures are promptly published in full online. The premier created the easily searchable database in 2012, earning much commendation. Even Mr. Fildebrandt acknowledges the practice is nation-leading.

The drawback is, of course, increased scrutiny. Ms. Redford noted rising concerns over travel costs in a teleconference from Switzerland this week.

“This is an ongoing theme. Every time I say I’m going on a trip, people want to know how much it costs — and we’re happy to talk about what that is,” she said.

Derek Cummings, Press Secretary for the Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, Cal Dallas, said the government is trying to find ways to reduce the tab — including seeking private-sector contributions to trade missions.

“We are also looking at ways we can reduce airfare costs,” he said. “A significant factor in the cost of airfare on a mission is the need to ensure flexibility as itineraries change frequently on the ground.”

Keith Brownsey, who teaches political science at Mount Royal University, said Alberta might not be facing the environmental backlash it is today if previous premiers had promoted the province more aggressively. But the stinginess of Alberta’s taxpayers is legendary, he added: Former premier Ralph Klein faced complaints over his trips.

“He would go to Manhattan to speak to investment bankers and lo and behold, it cost $2,000 to hire a car for the day. Well, that’s what cars cost in Manhattan for a day,” he said. “I’d rather have [Ms. Redford] out there selling Alberta than saving $2,000 by staying at home. The potential losses here to the province if Keystone doesn’t go through because of environmental concerns and lobbying concerns are profound. Do you want to save a few thousand dollars and have the Keystone crash?”

And then there was this .....
Premier Alison Redford hasn't made a financial donation to her own Conservative party since 2010. (Photograph by Colleen De neve/Calgary Herald)

CyberSmokeBlog: "Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!"

Redford the lone leader to not donate to pwn party
By James Wood
Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Progressive Conservative party says it’s working hard to get more donations from individual party members.

It might start with Premier Alison Redford.

According to financial contribution records posted online by Elections Alberta, Redford is the only leader of the main provincial parties who didn’t chip in to the party that he or she leads in 2013.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman led the pack, donating $11,150 personally and through his professional association to his party and constituency association.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith gave $2,300 — $300 to her party and $2,000 to her Highwood constituency association — while New Democrat Brian Mason gave $1,002.50 to the NDP.

“It doesn’t look good,” said Chaldeans Mensah, a political science professor at MacEwan University.

“Perhaps, giving her the benefit of the doubt, it’s something that she’s forgotten and failed to do. I think she needs to address that very quickly because I think the optics are not good. A political party leader ought to demonstrate support for her party, because that sends a signal to voters.”

But PC party Executive Director Kelley Charlebois said the lack of a financial contribution from Redford is no big deal because she is “our greatest fundraising tool.”

“She gives hundreds of hours of her personal time to the party. She attends fundraising events on the party’s behalf throughout the province. We take a lot of our time . . . I would argue her time is more valuable than dollars.”

The last time Redford made a political donation was in 2010, when she gave $690.33 to the Tories’ Strathmore-Brooks constituency association.

Sherman noted that Redford receives a stipend from the PC party while he gives to the Liberals.

“It is important for the leader to invest and donate because it’s leadership. If I’m not going to invest in the Alberta Liberal party, how can I possibly ask others to invest in it?”


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