Alison Redford report: damning findings draw swift condemnation

Reaction to an Alberta Auditor General report suggesting former premier Alison Redford used public money inappropriately has been swift and strong.

PC Party calls former leader's misuse of taxpayer money 'disrespectful,' 'inappropriate'

A report released Thursday by the Alberta auditor general says former premier Alison Redford misused public money, with planes used for personal and partisan purposes. (Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters)

Reaction from Albertans to the auditor general's report suggesting former premier Alison Redford used public money inappropriately has been swift and strong.

Former colleagues and regular Albertans have been taking aim at Redford since the report was made public Thursday morning. In it, Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher said Redford used government planes for personal and partisan purposes and that her staff "consistently failed to demonstrate in the documents we examined that their travel expenses were necessary and a reasonable and appropriate use of public resources."

The report blamed the misuse of public resources on an "aura of power" around the former premier and her office, as well as "the perception that the influence of the office should not be questioned."

Those findings have many taking aim at Redford and decrying the culture around her office.

Redford's own party, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, denounced her actions as "disrespectful" and "inappropriate," with the party president announcing they would take steps to rectify several incidents flagged by the auditor general.

Jim McCormick said Thursday that the PC Party will pay back the $6,500 to cover off three times Redford used the government plane to attend PC Party events.

"Our heart and soul comes from our thousands of members from all walks of life across Alberta," he said. "The actions of our former leader have let down all these members who volunteer their own time and money to make this province a better place. This cannot, and will not, happen again."

PC MLAs, leadership hopefuls join outcry

Backbencher MLAs have also been speaking out, condemning the former premier but also working to separate her actions from those of the rest of the party.

"We do have a lot of people, including those in my riding, who are informed and reasonable and able to differentiate between the attitude and actions of one individual in government from the rest of us who work very hard to sustain the public trust in this age of heightened transparency and public accountability," said Teresa Woo-Paw, PC MLA for Calgary-Northern Hills. 

"Young people in my riding that I have spoken to in the last few days are telling me, you know, she made the right decision [to resign]. This had to happen."

As well, PC Party leadership hopeful Ric McIver released a statement about the report in which he stressed the need to clean out the "rot at the top" of the government.

He also said he is willing to get rid of government planes if he is elected leader of the PC Party.

"This report raises serious questions about the value for money of government planes, and suggests that value has gone down," McIver said in the statement. "I am prepared to eliminate these planes and use commercial alternatives."

Another leadership hopeful, Jim Prentice, said he can't explain her actions but would expect legal repercussions if it's found she broke the law.

"I am disappointed by the results of the auditor general's report into the former premier's travel and use of government aircraft," Prentice wrote on his Facebook page. "No government official, nor the premier, is above the law. In the event that there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, I would expect those actions to be met with the full force and weight of the law."

'Royals' parody mocks Redford entitlement

The flurry of scandals that had plagued the Redford PC's prompted one University of Calgary student to parody the government in a redo of Royals, the popular song by New Zealand singer Lorde.

In the video, Caitlyn Madlener, an intern with the Manning Centre — which bills itself as building Canada's conservative movement — mocks several of the government's scandals, including Redford's misuse of government jets.

"This is an issue that everyone can understand," Madlener said. "Everyone knows what it costs to fly places, how much it should cost and to see that it's costing 10 times that or 20 times that is really concerning to most Albertans when they want to see their taxpaying dollars being spent wisely."

The hard-hitting auditor general report found cases where Redford flew alone with her teen daughter and the girl's friends, as well as cases where her daughter flew by herself.

In all, Redford's daughter flew on the government plane 50 times between September 2011 and March 2014.

It was also booked for Redford to attend her uncle's funeral in Vancouver.


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