Thursday, April 17, 2014

Have you seen this woman?

Alison Rediford incognito
Good Day Readers:

If even half the allegations against former Premier Alison Redford are true (plus the one's voters don't yet know about), her sense of entitlement, arrogance and what amounts to the financial rape of Alberta's public purse should be investigated. If the RCMP can put Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Mac Harb et. al. under the microscope why not her too? These people must be taught that in this era of increased transparency and taxpayer accountability such behaviour is not longer acceptable and must be punished. How else will they learn?

Clare L. Pieuk

Since resigning as Alberta Premier, Alison Redford has been almost entirely AWOL from her cintinuing job as an MLA

Jen Gerson
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Alison Redford in 2012. (Lorraine Hjalte/Calgary Herald)

Since she resigned as Alberta premier last month, Alison Redford has managed to evade a slew of embarrassing and damaging revelations — from the fact that her aide insisted on accompanying her on her ill-fated flight to South Africa in December, to her plans to build a secret penthouse atop a government office building.

But with the exception of a few Twitter comments and one meeting during which she took no questions from media, the former premier has been AWOL for her continuing job as a member of the Legislative Assembly, representing the residents of Calgary-Elbow. As of Wednesday afternoon, she had skipped seven consecutive sitting days in the Alberta legislature — if she misses three more, she could face minor financial penalties.

Yet Ms. Redford continues to collect a handsome salary and her continued position as an MLA adds to her pension allotment.

“We all want our representative to be there and if she can’t get there in short order, then we would feel unrepresented,” said Marc Doll, the president of the Marda Loop Communities Association, a neighbourhood in her riding.

However, he said, “ I understand that there is a human element to this.”

"There’s Alison the [politician] and Alison The Person, and Alison The Person needs some time to refocus and decide what to do. She needs a certain amount of time to do that.”

More questions for Ms. Redford arose this week when the CBC revealed her penchant for travel on the government of Alberta’s private airplanes was even more wide-ranging than previously thought.

The report found Ms. Redford took her daughter on 48 flights — including one trip to Jasper in the midst of Southern Alberta’s catastrophic floods last year. One flight even included a seat for Ms. Redford’s nanny.

The auditor general is examining the travel expenses of both the former premier and her office. In the meantime, the current interim premier, Dave Hancock, has evaded most questions related to the unending stream of scandals.

Ms. Redford would not be the only departed political leader to go into political hiding while retaining their seat.

Few leaders return to fulfill their duties on the backbench after they retire — or are pushed — from their positions. Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, for example, spent almost a year as a backbench MPP before he formally retired his seat in June of 2013. He attended the legislature only a handful of times, usually for confidence votes, in the meantime.

It can be galling for both opposition members and constituents to see an elected representative collect a pay-cheque without seeming to do the job.

“She would be a target, especially of the Wildrose, at this time and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to face that humiliation,” said Keith Brownsey, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, which sits in Ms. Redford’s constituency.

That’s a difficult defence for opposition members, who would love to grill Ms. Redford on her recently revealed decisions, but can’t.

“From our position here, there won’t be a material difference from when she was in the legislature because she never really answered questions anyway,” said Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw. As Ms. Redford no longer holds her position, any questions must now be directed to Mr. Hancock.

“I’m not surprised, given what she’s been through,” said NDP opposition leader Brian Mason. “It’s certainly not unprecedented [that a former premier would fail to show up] but there are two years left in the term and it is completely unacceptable for someone to be absent for that length of time and still draw a substantial salary, paid for by the public.”

Mr. Mason said he was willing to cut Ms. Redford a few weeks slack.

“We have another couple of weeks here in the spring session, but if she’s not back by the fall session, that’s a real problem.”


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