It is really quite astonishing what Alison Redford is getting away with these days.
First, Redford takes her cabinet on a tour of Alberta. Price tag for this little public relations exercise (which comes, by total coincidence, with an election two or three months away): $100,000. The opposition bellows, the media yawns, and Redford gets the photo op she wanted: the premier riding the LRT. (My guess: her first ride ever on public transit.)
This is flagrant politicking with public money, but nobody seems to care. I will give props to Lloyd Snelgrove, one of the massive number of departing Tories, who quit the caucus in disgust with the premier’s profligate ways.
Perhaps emboldened by the minimal public and media reaction to her tour stunt, Redford and her new gang concocted a “retreat” for MLAs, held in the tony interiors of the Jasper Park Lodge, at a cost of $70,000 to the taxpayer. Oh, and 25 candidates for the Tories were invited to attend as well, even though the party had to pay for their attendance . After all, in a couple of months, most of them are going to be MLAs, so why not give them a taste of power, PC style?
I have no problem with MLAs going on retreats to discuss stuff. I went on one while I was an MLA, although the best we could afford was a night in Sylvan Lake. But this retreat stinks, top to bottom.
Consider for a moment that a large number of the MLAs in attendance will not be running for re-election. How much work do you think a guy like Doug Elniski — the one-term goof who isn’t running again — is going to put into this retreat? Or how much effort will Carl Benito — the most disgraceful of a disgraceful bunch, so utterly shamed by his conduct as an MLA his own constituency wouldn’t let him run — put into the brainstorming sessions? Or how about Iris Evans, or Ken Kowalski, or Ed Stelmach, or Ron Liepert, or Janis Tarchuk, or Mel Knight, just to name a few. Belly up to the bars, boys.
A Redford spokesman says the retreat will focus on the agenda for the upcoming session. Really? A session that will last just long enough to pass a bill or two and a budget that the Tories will carry into the election. You need a two-day retreat for that?
Really, it’s kind of breathtaking. In any other province, a party in power that pulled a stunt like this just before an election would be roasted over the coals by the opposition and the media. But in Alberta, it’s business as usual, Tory style. Redford is clearly feeling pretty confident that she can throw a $70,000 pre-election holiday/retreat for her caucus, and a $100,000 public relations tour, and not worry about the fallout.
One of these days, the arrogance of the Tories will come back to bite them in their ample asses.