Premier Alison Redford is in the midst of a spectacular crash and burn. Just two short years ago she was elected in what was a surprise because all pollsters predicted that Redford, the leader of the Conservative party, would lose. Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wildrose party (our own small version of the American GOP), was predicted to win in a landslide. The Liberals and NDP were non-entities as per usual. But, shockingly, the Wild Rose was trounced (mostly due to some hyper-religious crazies spouting hate and stupidity about what else: gay people), and Redford and the Conservatives won another election.
I thought Redford interesting. She is a woman and a former UN human rights lawyer, and appeared to not be from the old boys’ club that has run the province since, it seems, before Confederation. The party even ran a clever though misguided add that featured a montage of hip-looking, fresh-faced, bespectacled, quasi-hipster young folk, declaring, “This is not your father’s Conservative party!” The add was silly but it seemed to have the desired effect. That was then and this is now; and now this house is on fire.
I will get to the biggest misstep–that being Redford’s inappropriate use of government transportation and funds used for transportation. The premier charged the taxpayers forty-five thousand dollars to fly her and an aide to Nelson Mandela’s funeral. This trip was personal, extravagant, and something I as a taxpayer don’t want to pay for. Maybe for the Prime Minister to attend but not you, Premier Redford.
So once this came out people kind of lost their collective shit. You see, what Redford did not understand is that forty-five thousand dollars is a LOT of money to the average worker. Like a year’s wages in many cases. It is an outrageous sum. Then other trips, personal trips, were revealed. A hop back from Palm Springs, a trip for her and her daughter and her daughter’s friend. These trips were made in the Government of Alberta plane which is to be used for government business. It’s not a goddamn taxi, lady, to be used to shuttle you and yours all over God’s green acre for shits and giggles.
But this is the crashing and burning part: Once caught with her hand in the cookie jar, she refuses to admit that anything untoward was done and by god no, she’s not going to pay the money back. So her caucus, especially the rural MP’s, were really unhappy with this. Alberta is primarily a working class province and farmers especially do not cotton to a premier who seems to be as clueless as Lord Grantham about how much many tens of thousands of dollars is to people who aren’t wealthy. And I personally find something so repulsive about a spendthrift who is wealthy yet always looking to get something for free.
So finally, after much coaxing, cajoling, anger, and an epic nose dive in popularity, she said she would return some of the money. “Huh? What?” said everyone in the province. “You have got to be shitting us, Your Highness. You will pay it all back or we will gather our torches and pitchforks and we will storm the castle.” So then she finally relented and announced this week that she will pay the whole forty-five grand back. It went something like this “All right, you bunch of stupid jerks, I’ll pay the money if you’ll just shut the hell up and get off my back. Dumb jerkheads.” No one is happy. And no one will shut up. And every day it seems that some new extravagance is revealed, and for a political junkie like me this is nearly as good as striking oil. I will write more on this in the future but for now I’ll leave it at that.