Editorial Comment

Redford is no Ralph

    I am very disappointed in our premier as of late. I have to admit, I was initially proud of who the citizens of Alberta chose for our leader, a person as worldly in her experience and as accomplished as Allison Redford. The fact that she was also our province's first female premier made it even more special. Given Alberta's reputation as a haven for rednecks, sexists, and chauvinists, it certainly sent an interesting message to the rest of the country. 
    Since she was elected, however, Redford has demonstrated repeatedly that she does not understand critical aspects of the type of leadership that is expected and respected in this province. She simply doesn’t ‘get’ the style of leadership that Ralph Klein understood intrinsically and used masterfully. Klein’s and Redford’s extremely divergent histories are likely responsible for their vastly different approaches to provincial governance.
    Ralph came up through the ranks of the school of hard knocks, having dropped out of high school. After meandering around his native Calgary, Klein recognizing his folly and returned to finish high school in his adult years which lead to his life-long love of learning. He eventually became the President of the Calgary Business College, which was a learning institution he had himself attended. Ralph also did some public relations work for the Red Cross in Calgary for a number of years before becoming a journalist until his foray into Calgary municipal politics and ultimately the premiership.
    Redford, on the other hand, was born in BC, raised in both Nova Scotia and Borneo, of all places, and attended university in Saskatchewan. Other than having worked for Jim Prentiss’s law firm in Calgary, she had spent the majority of her career working for one government or another around the world. This included a stint where she worked with the revered Nelson Mandela.
    In other words, Ralph worked in the private sector, often in jobs that were sometimes at odds with government, while Redford has been living off the public purse with lavish expense accounts for much of her career. So guess which leader is more associated with the concept of fiscal responsibility? Here’s a hint, not Redford.
    Her unbelievably wasteful trip to South Africa was a sterling example of her mindset.
    She spent $10,000 of our money because she was in a hurry and didn't want to reschedule her day timer a bit to save us that much. Some, not many, but some, might say that this is small potatoes in a budget the size of the Alberta government's, but it is exactly that worldview that is the problem. It is real money that Albertans are forced by law to give her. It isn't magic money that government people all seem to see our tax dollars as, the longer in government they remain. For some reason, long timers in both government and the public service all eventually appear to feel cash somehow just happens, and is to be spent on whatever pet projects they wish to do.
    One can appreciate that having worked for the esteemed Mr. Mandela, Ms. Redford was duty bound to attend the funeral she had been invited to. There is little doubt, however, that she was invited due to her history with the man, not her current position. It is most likely Redford would have attended the event no matter what job she would have had. Redford had no business whatsoever making Alberta taxpayers shell out for her little jaunt; for which, the total wasn't just $10,000, but $45,000. That is just shy of the Canadian average annual income. She wasted a year's salary for someone, on a private junket entirely unrelated to her capacity as our premier. Provincial politicians have little business going outside the country. She may call her journeys around the globe ‘trade missions’ but the fact is that it is not the government's job to drum up business, it is up to business’ to do that. It's the role of the government simply to keep all tax rates low to attract employees and employers alike, not to blow it on trips abroad, bonuses and expense accounts. 
    Our provincial leaders don't need a profile on the world stage unless they have aspirations for leadership of the country. If that's the case, though, they can go flitting about the globe on their own dime. We aren’t interested in her job after being premier, we are interested in her being premier. Redford has been all over Europe on the back of the taxpayers, and for what? Only national leaders can sign international agreements. Redford has no more business going to Europe than say, the mayor of Calmar going to China. Their influence would be about the same.
    Ralph Klein understood this. He knew about "optics"; something that seems to be lost on Redford. She claimed she was "astonished" at the cost of her trip. The only way she could have been astonished is if she hadn't asked her staff how much her trip would cost before she committed us to the expense. Like so many other decisions she has made, it doesn’t appear that a cost/benefit analysis was ever done or even considered. The desire was enough to make the decision, irrespective of the cost.
    Here's a hint, Allison, if you screw up so bad you are greeted at the airport with microphones thrust in your face because of the arrogance and distain you show for our money, you need to fake sincerity better. Don't act “astonished”, at least pretend to be contrite. Immediately pledge to repay the extra cash you cost us. This is your best response because your astonishment is actually an insult. It shows better than any graph, chart or audio/visual aid, the utter disregard for our money you have.
    This Liberal in Conservative clothing has got to go.

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