Premier, finance minister, unavailable for Redford plane questions

Government spokeswoman Kathleen Range was sent to answer questions about former premier Alison Redford's use of government planes because Premier Dave Hancock and Finance Minister Doug Horner are on vacation
Kathleen Range, a spokeswoman for Premier Dave Hancock, was sent out to respond to media questions about former premier Alison Redford's use of government planes. (CBC )

People looking for an elected member of the Alberta government to comment on former premier Alison Redford’s use of government planes will be waiting until at least next week.

Premier Dave Hancock is on vacation in Italy and unavailable. Finance Minister Doug Horner, whose department is responsible for the fleet, is in Alberta but also on vacation.

When CBC broke the flights story earlier this week, Kathleen Range, a backup spokeswoman in Hancock’s office who is not an elected official, was sent out to face the media.  

"The premier's not here, but he is aware that the information is out there,” Range said. “Finance minister, he's not available as well. I'm responding on their behalf."

In an internal report obtained exclusively by CBC News, Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher found that "false passengers" were booked on the government planes.

The passengers’ names were removed just before printing the flight manifest, Saher’s internal report said, making it possible for Redford to fly alone with her entourage.

Since CBC published and broadcast the story on Tuesday, opposition politicians have called for the RCMP to step in and for Redford to step down as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow.

They also have questions about what Horner knew, as the minister responsible for the government fleet.

However, the vacationing Horner has not made himself available for questions.  Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said Albertans deserve answers..

"The government planes are flying every single day, and we have absolutely no certainty that practices have changed, or that the Finance Minister has any oversight or concern whatsoever about whether or not they're being abused,” she said.

Horner is due to return to work next week. There is no word of when Hancock is expected back.

Redford released a short statement denying knowledge about false passengers on Tuesday night, but has not responded to repeated requests for an interview.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.