Duplicate flights taken by Alberta premier to same destination
Revelation on heels of South Africa contoversy could hurt Alison Redford, pollster says
Flight manifests reveal 10 occasions in 2012 and 2013 when Alberta Premier Alison Redford took a separate government plane even though other government flights were going to the same destination within an hour of her departure.
The revelations comes one week after Redford announced she would repay the costs of travelling to an uncle's funeral in Vancouver and having a friend fly with her daughter on four government flights.
The 10 examples include these three flights:
- Jan. 20, 2012: 14 MLAs fly from Edmonton City Centre Airport to Calgary, 54 minutes after Redford and two others made the same trip on a different plane. The MLA flight had 22 empty seats.
- Jun. 4, 2013: Redford and her executive assistant Brad Stables fly from Edmonton to Calgary. Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell and his wife made the same flight 31 minutes later.
- Aug. 20, 2013: Redford, Stables and another staffer fly from Edmonton to Calgary International, taking off two minutes after a flight with communications director Stefan Baranski and two others fly to Calgary's Springbank Airport.
Redford’s office did not respond to a request from CBC News about the reasons for the duplicate flights.
Finance Minister Doug Horner, whose department is in charge of the government planes, told the legislature on Tuesday that Redford has to meet different expectations.
"We all have different stakeholders, who all request us at certain times,” he said.
“The premier has many stakeholders in the province, Mr. Speaker, and they expect her to be there on time. Sometimes those schedules conflict.”
But Wildrose leader Danielle Smith says the government is abusing taxpayer money once again.
"No one thought to do something as simple as co-ordinate flights so that the taxpayer didn't get shafted,” she said during Tuesday’s question period.
The scandal is the latest to dog the premier ever since it was revealed that she spent $45,000 for her and Stables to fly to and from South Africa for the Nelson Mandela memorial in December while Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil spent just $946 on the same trip.
Pollster Janet Brown says Redford doesn’t need any more questions about her travel habits.
"The problem is when you add that into the greater narrative of the premier being extravagant with travel, the premier feeling entitled.... It makes you feel like perhaps those 10 times, she just didn't feel like flying with somebody else,” Brown said.
“And that's really why this is serious because it comes on the heels of these other problems."
Redford has asked the auditor general to review the use of the government fleet.