A freedom of information request has finally yielded the itineraries for two controversial trips former premier Alison Redford took to Jasper.
In April, CBC News revealed that Redford had used government planes to fly to Jasper for two long weekends, September 28 to 30, 2012 and June 28 to 30, 2013. On each occasion, she brought along her daughter and a friend of her daughter.
Public flight manifests cited “meetings with government officials” as the reason for each trip but, apart from a brief Sept. 29, 2012 meeting with Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland, CBC News could find no record of any meetings with government officials.
For nearly three weeks, Craig Loewen, communications director for interim Premier Dave Hancock, did not respond to requests for information. Redford also did not respond to interview requests.
Instead, CBC News filed a freedom of information (FOIP) request in April to Executive Council, the ministry that includes the premier’s office, seeking Redford’s itineraries for both long weekends.
The heavily redacted documents confirm that on Sept. 28, 2012, Redford attended the final day of the Alberta Forest Products Association’s annual general meeting at the Jasper Park Lodge.
The next day, as was also initially reported by CBC News, Redford went on an arts tour as part of Alberta Culture Days. There is no mention of a meeting with Jasper’s mayor, or with any other government officials.
Discussing "state of tourism" on itinerary
Redford’s second trip, from June 28 to 30, 2013, took place during the height of the flooding in High River. Again, she stayed at the luxury Jasper Park Lodge. Redford expensed the trip for both herself and the executive assistant who accompanied her.
The records show that on the morning of June 29, Redford was scheduled to take part in a daily flood status conference call with premier’s office and Municipal Affairs staff. She then met with David Roberts and Marcus Treppenhauer, the general managers for the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Jasper Park Lodge, respectively.
The purpose for the 45-minute meeting was “to discuss the current state of tourism in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, as well as the impact of the 2013 Floods on Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.
“Many tourists were impacted by the 2013 Floods,” the itinerary continues, “and the Jasper Park Lodge opened their doors and accommodated many tourists who would have otherwise been en route to the impacted flood areas.”
Scheduled next was a half-hour tour of Mountain Galleries with local artist and filmmaker Wendy Wacko, then a brief meeting with Greg Fenton, superintendent of Jasper National Park. There was no reason provided for the meeting with Fenton. Neither Wacko nor Fenton responded to a CBC News request to confirm the meetings took place.
Redford did not respond to a request to explain more fully the rationale behind the trips, as well as why she did not provide her itineraries when asked repeatedly, by both media and opposition parties, back in April.
She resigned as premier March 23, amid controversy over her expenses and her use of the government fleet of planes. Redford had previously apologized for taking her daughter’s friends on government flights on four occasions — including both of the Jasper long weekends — and promised to repay the associated costs.
See the documents
Trip 1: September 28 to 30, 2012
Trip 2: June 28 to 30, 2013