I normally don’t write about politics, specifically local politics, as many of the people who read this blog don’t live in my neighbourhood, and for the most part local politics is not exactly the most stimulating topic. But due to the rather silly and sad conduct of the former premier of Alberta, Alison Redford, I thought I’d post a little blurb on the latest (and hopefully the last) chapter of this saga.
Alison Redford was the premier of the province of Alberta. I’ve previously commented, in a post titled “Oh Alison,” on her abuse of government planes and how this was the beginning of the end.
Redford resigned as premier in March but did hold on to her seat in the Alberta Legislature representing her constituency in Calgary (lucky people). If she thought that resigning as premier would alleviate the scrutiny she was under, then she was mistaken. It was revealed that the premier had ordered a luxury penthouse suite to be built on the top of a Government of Alberta building that was under construction. According to Global News, “There would bedrooms for Redford and her pre-teen daughter . . . , a shared bathroom, a powder room, a walk-in closet, a butler’s pantry and areas for dining, studying and lounging. There would be grooming and changing areas, a fireplace and room-by-room temperature controls.” This was unnecessary and extravagant. The consulting alone was $173 000. The project has since been nicknamed the Sky Palace, which is fitting as Redford and her daughter seemed to be confusing themselves with the Saudi royal family. Once these plans were made public, everyone collectively groaned, “Not again.”
Before she resigned as premier, she ordered an investigation by the Auditor General into the use of government aircraft. I guess this was an attempt to demonstrate that she had nothing to hide, that she was serious about getting to the bottom of mishandling of government funds. She wanted to know who was responsible for defrauding the Alberta taxpayer. At that point everyone in the province said, “Uhhh yeah, you know that’s you, right, Alison?” Her ordering of the audit doesn’t demonstrate a lack of intelligence but a surplus of disdain. She simply didn’t seem to care what anyone thought and was generally annoyed if she was questioned.
The day before the Auditor General’s report was released, Redford resigned her seat in Calgary. These are a couple of highlights from the report–and by highlights I mean examples of entitlement and abuse of power and trust:
Whenever a delegation of Alberta politicians and staff had to fly somewhere for whatever reason, Redford’s staff would book the plane and fill the passenger manifest with people who weren’t actually going to fly on the plane. Just before the flight was to leave, staff would cancel these passengers and leave just Redford herself and the few people she wished to fly with, basically so she and her besties could have the plane all to themselves. As a result two planes were often used when only one was needed–Redford and her entourage on one plane and the unwashed rabble on the other. Wow, she must have made a lot friends with a strategy like that.
Perhaps the lowlight of the report was the revelation that Redford had employed a travel scout, a woman who was paid $127 872 to go places the premier was planning to visit in order to suss out the best hotels, restaurants, and local sights, even giving weather reports (she e-mailed the premier that she may need a jacket on some mornings in New Delhi). On top of the travel scout’s ridiculous salary, she racked up $330 000 in expenses in just twenty months. This was a position that didn’t exist until Alison Redford created it.
How does someone get a job like this? What would the qualifications be? I will conclude this post with how I imagine the job interview for this position:
Premier: Hello, John. Thank you for coming in today for this interview.
Me: No problem.
Premier: Do you like to travel?
Me: Sure do.
Premier: Do you like to spend other people’s money on luxury hotels and the finest restaurants?
Me: Oh, for sure.
Premier: Well then, John, welcome to the team. The job is yours. And might I say you had a fantastic interview. You just blew me out of the water.
Me: Oh, stop.
Then we both laugh and put our feet up on some Alberta taxpayers as we sit in leather chairs and light cigars with hundred dollar bills.
The premier announces to no one in particular: It’s good to be Queen!