Wildrose leader won't condemn past premiers over aircraft abuse
The leader of the Wildrose Party didn't hesitate when asked how she thinks the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party should be punished following the release of the auditor general's report into government expenses.
"They should be unelected, every single one of them," Danielle Smith said Friday.
- Wildrose leader calls for public inquiry in wake of auditor general report
- Alison Redford used public money 'inappropriately,' AG says
Smith was absent when Redford stepped down as MLA on Wednesday and when the report was released on Thursday. Like many Albertans, she was taking a summer vacation.
"There have been problems with the misuse of government planes and the misuse of power by the premier's office for some time," said Smith. "It didn't just get invented. The last premier inherited practices that were firmly entrenched and deeply ingrained and permeated throughout all of government."
While the Wildrose leader said the abuses have occurred for many years, she will not condemn past PC premiers.
"You can't go back 40 years," said Smith. "The only way to actually hold the government to account is to not elect them again."
There is a suggestion that Redford has faced much more scrutiny than past premiers for similar conduct. An Edmonton Journal report in 2005 suggested over a 17-month period, government planes flew empty 235 times and Premier Ralph Klein accounted for 87 of those trips without any passengers.
When pressed about whether past premiers should also be condemned, Smith refused.
"Part of the reason Redford has fallen into greater criticism is that we are at a time when this government is trying to pretend that they are doing the right thing when it comes to tightening the belt," said Smith.
The fleet of government aircraft could be grounded in the near future as a result of the auditor general's report. The analysis showed that in 2012, the program cost $9.3 million, while a combination of commercial flights and driving would have cost $5.4 million.