Sunday, April 27, 2014

Found!

Absent Alison Redford spotted in Palm Springs

Tamara Gignac and Clara Ho
Saturday, April 26, 2014

As Alison Redford notified the Alberta Speaker’s office this week that she had a legitimate reason to be absent from the legislature, the former premier was spotted several times in the resort city of Palm Springs.

Redford has not attended the legislative assembly since she stepped down from the job on March 23, but two travellers told the Herald they’ve seen the Calgary-Elbow MLA in the California community in the past week.

Several other people have used Facebook and Twitter to report sightings of Redford in the desert city, where she has a recreational property.

Sasa Kovacevic told the Herald he spotted Redford at Lulu California Bistro — a popular Palm Springs restaurant — the morning of Easter Sunday, two days before the legislature resumed sitting last week.

Kovacevic, an Edmonton resident, said he and his sister were waiting for a table when a woman and girl walked into the eatery. At first he paid no attention to the pair.

“She said she had a reservation for Redford,” Kovacevic said in a phone interview Saturday. “The name caught me so I looked up and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s Alison Redford.’”

Kovacevic said Redford and the girl, presumably her daughter, Sarah, were with them in the waiting area for a few minutes.

“She was dressed very casually. It was quite warm, so you know, just like a nice light dress. She seemed OK, hanging out, relaxing I guess,” he said.

“I think she realized I knew who she was. We exchanged a couple glances, but after, she wouldn’t make eye contact with me.”

No one else in the restaurant seemed to recognize her, Kovacevic said.

He said he was surprised to see Redford in the resort city. “As far as I know, she’s still an MLA and should be in the legislature.”

An employee who answered the phone at Lulu California Bistro confirmed that Redford had a reservation at the restaurant at 11:30 on the morning of April 20.

Photos that appear to show Redford and her daughter dining at an eatery identified as Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta in Palm Springs on Friday were also widely circulated on social media. The legislature did not sit on Friday and doesn’t resume until May 5.

Redford, who was first elected as an MLA in 2008, was also spotted at a car rental counter at Palm Springs International Airport on April 22.

“She walked by and I thought, ‘oh, there’s the Premier,’” said a Vancouver businessman who was at the desert airport to pick up a friend arriving on a flight from Calgary.

A man who answered the phone at Redford’s Palm Springs residence Saturday afternoon said she was not there. A phone call to the former premier’s constituency office was not returned.

Redford hasn’t attended the legislature since she resigned from the premier’s post on March 23 amid mounting questions over her travel expenses and her use of the government executive aircraft fleet.

Under provincial laws, MLAs can be absent from the legislature for 10 sitting days in a session before they are docked pay. For each subsequent day’s absence without an explanation, MLAs lose $100 plus $50 from their expense allowance.

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