Kelly McParland: The Redford zombie terrorizes Alberta, alarming voters and threatening leadership bids
July 31, 2014
Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives can’t seem to do anything right these days.
Even if you ignore the latest revelations about former premier Alison Redford – who was allegedly so eager to avoid sharing government aircraft with other flyers that her staff block-booked planes using phony names – the Tory dynasty is looking ever wobblier as it careens towards yet another leadership vote.
Robyn Urback: Of course Redford’s flights had ‘ghost riders.’ Do you know how annoying other passengers are?
Airplanes are pretty much floating incubators of misery. Hundreds of strangers sit practically hip-to-hip, sucking in pressurized air and coughing into their sleeves, as if that will really protect anyone. Your seatmate will inevitably be either (a) incurably chatty (b) chewing loudly (c) constantly needing the bathroom or (d) a baby. Or else, any combination thereof. Heaven knows we’ll try just about anything to try to ameliorate the experience. For most of us, that means indulging in a trashy tabloid magazine or too much Gravol. But if you’re the premier of Alberta, that means buying out the plane. Even on government flights.
“The PC culture of entitlement and corruption did not die with Ms. Redford’s era; it lives on,” Wildrose finance critic Rob Anderson said this week after Wildrose revealed that senior public employees had been quietly slipped a pay increase despite the government’s proclamation of a three-year wage freeze. “Adding insult to injury,” said Anderson, “they tried to sneak it by Albertans in the middle of the summer. … (They) figured they could get away with giving senior appointees and insiders a big pay raise and no one would notice.”
For a party that’s been trying to convince voters it hasn’t lost all control of the public purse, the furtive pay hike looks particularly damning. It means top civil servants will get an extra $19,000 over three years, pushing diplomats and deputy ministers close to $300,000 a year. In trying to justify the increases the government veered from the comical to the preposterous, insisting the increase was in no way a broken promise, even though it clearly violated a three-year “management salary freeze” imposed by Finance Minister Doug Horner in February 2013.