Q. for Alberta's premier: Who is Alison Redford? - Macleans.ca

Q. for Alberta’s premier: Who is Alison Redford?

That’s the question for the Alberta premier at the midpoint of her mandate


EDMONTON – After a bruising 2013, Alberta Premier Alison Redford reaches the midpoint of her mandate in 2014 facing an emerging political question.

Who is Alison Redford?

Supporters hail her as the ultimate big-tent Progressive Conservative premier, the world stateswoman with the liberal heart to run up big debt to build schools, but conservative enough to clamp down on public sector salaries and keep taxes low.

Critics say 2013 revealed Redford as an eel-slippery manipulator launched into power by a progressive coalition of liberals, unionists and students whom she then abandoned for a new role as business shill and oilsands-industry glove puppet.

Redford, in a year-end interview, said judge her not by labels, but by results.

“What we tried to do as best as we could was to stick to the plan that we have, which maybe on a day-to-day basis people might feel doesn’t reflect what they voted for in the last election,” said Redford.

“I’m really confident that as we get to the next election (in 2016), people will be able to see the whole, and they will see that we did what we promised we would do.

“The tough thing for anyone in life — and certainly for any government — is to keep the long-term view.”

Laying the groundwork for the long term in 2013 proved difficult when it began with a broken promise.

The balanced budget and no debt promised by Redford in her sweeping election win of 2012 turned into a budget deficit and a plan to reverse former premier Ralph Klein’s debt-free legacy by racking up $17 billion in red ink over the next four years to pay for infrastructure in a province growing by 100,000 newcomers a year.

Redford blamed the “Bitumen Bubble” — the discounted price Alberta was getting for its oilsands crude compared with the North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate.

“People can say, ‘You should have known, you should have known.’ Nobody knew,” said Redford.

She lobbied and travelled afar in 2013 to beat the drum for new pipelines to British Columbia, Texas, and New Brunswick to reduce reliance on U.S. markets, the bottleneck responsible for the bubble.

But critics said the bubble has always been around, traditionally rising and falling. They called it a red herring for a broken promise.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman coined his own term: “Bitumen B.S.”

Redford was elected on the strength of her support for education and for social programs.

In the election she promised to further fund post-secondary schools. But in the March budget she cut seven per cent of the operating budgets for the schools. Some of that money was replaced months later, after the schools had made their cuts.

Progress has been slow on her promise to build 50 new schools and modernize 70 more by 2016 in an overheated economy where workers are scarce. Redford has started simply announcing the new schools without details of when or how they will be built.

Seniors and advocates for the disabled have marched on the legislature to criticize amalgamation and privatization changes that have led to reduced services and cases such as Violet MacDonald, who died this year after being left untreated for bedsores for so long, her skin blackened and decayed.

Under Redford, the government has a “kids first” policy, but a series of Postmedia stories in November highlighted a foster-care system so secretive that parents whose children die in government care can’t even speak about their lost loved ones by name in public.

She has promised open and accountable government, but in 2013 legislation was introduced with little to no notice and rammed through the legislature with scant debate in late-night, or even all-night, sessions.

Earlier this year, a judge found the Environment Department had been running a shadow policy to blackball some oilsands critics from development application hearings.

Redford is trying to fix things.

She set up pilot family-care clinics with plans to expand the service to free up space in overcrowded emergency wards.

A roundtable meeting in January will look at the foster system.

There has been progress on roads, including a landmark ring road deal in Calgary and continuing work to twin the dangerous highway to Fort McMurray.

When floods ravaged Calgary and southern Alberta in June, Redford was on the ground immediately, promising $1 billion in aid and following up with legislation in the fall to mitigate the effects of any future such disasters.

On the labour front, in early December her government announced, debated and passed in less than a week a law to deprive its largest public sector union, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, of its right to binding arbitration.

The bill imposed a four-year wage restraint deal on the union, including wage freezes in the first two years, unless the union negotiates a new deal by the end of January. A companion piece of legislation delivers crippling fines if its members even speak about fighting back with an illegal strike.

Unions call it the ultimate betrayal by a premier who, if she doesn’t like the rules, simply rewrites them to suit her purpose.

“The coalition that elected Alison Redford less than two years ago is dead,” Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour said after the legislation passed.

He said unions voted for Redford in 2012 to keep the rightist Wildrose party from power, but “will not be fooled again.”

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said the events of 2013 reveal that Redford’s political soul is a moving target.

“This is to me what her definition of being pragmatic means — it’s sort of whatever way the wind blows, make a decision at a particular time because it will appeal to a particular voter group, then change 180 degrees when it seems pragmatic to do it,” said Smith.

“I believe people are looking for principled politicians. They want to know what your world view is and your basic principles and what you go back to when you’re confronted with a new issue.

“Somebody asked me what I think is going to happen (with Redford) next year. I say, ‘who knows?'”


Q. for Alberta’s premier: Who is Alison Redford?

    • I didn’t realize that was a sexist comment…..seemed pretty spot on to me! Man or woman….any politician that behaves as (she) has deserves to be booted from office. I am pretty much as right of centre as you could get. But at this point I would rather have Brian Mason run this province. At least (he) stands for something.

      • If you wouldn’t say it about a man, don’t say it about a woman. Whether you like or dislike their politics.

        • It’s not sexist – the same thing could be said about Stephen Harper.

          • Could be. Isn’t.

          • After watching him interviewed on Global yesterday, I think it’s the perfect description of him.

        • I call her entire cabinet words just like that…..probably worse. And her cabinet is made up almost entirely of men.

          • You are missing the point.

          • What would the point be? Any criticism of a female is misogyny?

          • One cannot miss a point that does not exist.

  1. When you see a summary of the deception and lies it paints a much different picture than the one the government tries to paint. The truth is not Redford’s friend.

    The sad part is they still have those that are loyal to the cause regardless of the consequences to the provinces. This “as long as my side wins” mentality is destroying Alberta.

    • The Alberta PC’s stand for power and nothing else. They are neither Progressive or Conservative……not really sure what they are anymore. Not my father’s PC Party………..yeah…you got that right!

  2. Redford is a pathological liar. I don’t believe anything she says. She even lied to the legislature about Tobbacogate. Any honest person would have resigned after that disgrace. She has nothing but contempt for average Albertans and is just a puppet for the energy industry.

    • Verlyn Olson stood in the house and lied to about Tobbacogate. Go back and look at the video from the house when he stood and said he made the decision, the man looked as though he was going to be sick.

    • Or her propensity to get tax free all expense vacations to China, UK, South Africa…..

      • She gave her sister or neice an all expense paid vacations paid for by taxpayers.

    • Her Human Services ministry should be called Inhuman Services or Human Trafficking Services. . She has denied income supports to some people for no valid reason even during Xmas. She probably wants people to get homeless so they will go to a shelter and get victimized by human traffickers and drug testing corporations and her and her govt make a huge profit. Do not re-elect her.

      • She sounds like a psychopath too. She treats Albertans and others like crap. No compassion for people whatsoever. What were people thinking when they elected this woman?

  3. Redford:

    – “Live within our means” and Alberta massive debit.

    She handed MLAs a 35% raise at start of the year about $50,000, as well expanded her cabinet by 3 positions. Guess lesson was not learned from AHS top heavy executives is a waste of money.

    At same time back stabbed the unions taking away their negation rights as well placing wage freeze. These are the same people she called “heroes” during the flood as they worked 12 hours shifts ensuring vulnerable Albertan were safe.

    “Building Alberta” boards across province, I am sure we all have seen them. Each of these boards cost about $6,000.00. If you have noticed at the bottom of the board it has Alison’s name and used as a form advertisement paid by taxpayers dollars.

    She handed her former chief of staff 130,000.00 severance pay for working only 6 months for her.

    She has cut money from education, health sector and programs offered to vulnerable population.

    Lets look at Alison’s travel expenses for it has become clear she LOVES TO TRAVEL. She has been to states over 10 times now recently came back from Africa and now she is leaving for India to “unlock great opportunities” what that means I have no idea? Interesting part is this trip is going to cost 120,000. paid by taxpayers again. As far as I am concerned international trades is more of federal government business.

    To me what it feels like is Redford knows she won’t be elected in 2016 so she is going to do what she pleases until that time comes.

    • if that isn’t an eel-slippery manipulator I don’t know what is!

      • That’s misogynist.

      • How right you are!

    • She will be elected in 2016, back room money and CBC media will do their best to slander and slight the WRA party.

      Pretty obvious CBC and other media vilified and influenced the election to make sure a NWO-federalist parachuted in could control Alberta. Back room media and money buy elections. A WRA back bencher makes a minor mistake, it was up on CBC front and center for a week. Morton makes gay bashing got 20 minutes. Morton got a nice juicy severance and double dips on pensions from his university government job days. Nothing like getting two governemtn pensions and benefits early in life.

      • She pissed aupe big time that’s a lot of vote

        • Why will she be re-elected mr smart canadian?

          • I don’t think she will be re-elected. most likely WP will win in 2016.

  4. In most countries in this world, government unions cannot strike. Wages are determined by 95% of the value in the private sector. 5% is for job security and benefits.

    And I am talking countries like USA, Sweden, Germany….

    Time we put a leash on low productivity gov-unions that make our live expense.

  5. Article has some flaws. Redford was parachuted into Alberta politics with big back room pro-NWO federalist money. In reality, she is a career governemtn employee than manages us. She is viewed by man as a neo-conservative as for the first time in a long time, spending is so far out of control that Alberta is now a net debt province and now floats bonds to cover.

    Yes, the Heritage fund has been squandered by Stemach and Redford. Redford migh not get us PST on her term, but the next governemtn will need it as she is racking up the debt for the largest government in Alberta’s history.

    But we are well on the path of less transfer payments to 57 year old Quebec provincial welfare. As our economic advantage is deteriorating from too much no-conservatism.