Premier Alison Redford repays $45K cost of South Africa trip
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has announced she has repaid the $45,000 cost of her trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial.
Redford apologized Wednesday in a hastily-called news conference at the Alberta legislature where she took no questions from reporters.
"I want to sincerely apologize to Albertans for these costs," she said. "And I have put in place measures to make sure that this never happens again."
Redford said that she has heard from people with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. However, she says questions about the trip have become a distraction from her government's agenda.
Shortly afterwards, Redford sent out a tweet apologizing to Albertans, with a link to a written statement.
Redford has been under fire for her travel expenses ever since the cost of the trip was made public.
The premier — who worked for Mandela in the 1990s — flew with Prime MInister Stephen Harper on his plane to South Africa.
However, she used an Alberta government plane to fly to Ottawa to meet up with Harper’s flight and spent $10,000 to fly commercial back to Canada to see her new cabinet sworn into office.
In comparison, Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil spent less than $1,000 on the same trip.
Redford refused to pay back the costs, despite repeated calls by opposition members, because she was travelling on government business.
Redford announced her decision amid reports that some Progressive Conservative MLAs were threatening to leave caucus and sit as independents in the legislature.
Wildrose MLA Shane Saskiw said her timing is telling.
“She was quite adamant in question period and throughout that she had done nothing wrong,” he said.
“All of a sudden the anger came throughout Alberta, she’s out of touch with Albertans and there’s a culture of entitlement with the premier and the entire PC party that’s pervasive. I don’t think this is going to stem the bleeding for her.”
The Wildrose wants the PCs to pay back the costs of government flights they say were used for partisan purposes like travelling to political fundraisers.