Editorial: The Redford ride

By Gauntlet Editorial Board

Alison Redford was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party on Oct. 1, 2011 in a come-from-behind win with the idea of breaking up the “old boys’ club” ruling Alberta. Sworn in on Oct. 7, 2011, she has been our premier for a little over 100 days and has made a controversial first impression.

Far from the departure from the old ways she promised, Redford has been frustratingly status quo. She limits debate, holds rushed late-night sessions and does not inform her mlas about legislation.

Redford won the pc party’s second ballot when third place candidate Doug Horner’s votes were redistributed. Front-runner Gary Mar won 33,233 (42.5 per cent) of the original first-choice votes, Redford won 28,993 (37.1 per cent), and Horner won 15,950 (20.4 per cent), but with the votes redistributed to find a 50 per cent majority, Redford had 37,104 and Mar only had 35,491.

She has been busy revising a land use law, announcing $107 million back into education funding, starting a review of mla salaries and changing the timing of provincial elections, among other moves.

She has many promises to keep. She wants more services from volunteers and policies to support them, as well as social action through private, non-profit agencies. She also promises the sale of “Social Impact Bonds” which would “permit private investors to support programs that save taxpayers money. Savings realized by the government will generate returns for investors.”

Other promises she made include $400 more per month for aish recipients, a full judicial inquiry into healthcare, more funding for police, restoring chiropractic funding for seniors, Assured Income for the Severe Handicapped recipients, and low income Albertans, three year funding for education, online voting in provincial elections, putting all resource revenue above $6 billion into savings and an end to all political meddling in healthcare. Good luck on the last two.

She is trying to keep all her promises before the next election, but she is not taking the time to pass properly debated bills the majority of Albertans want.

The legislation that has marked her leadership in most eyes is the introduction of harsher punishments for having a blood alcohol level greater than .05 and .08 while driving. Although harsher punishment for drinking and driving is positive, reviews have called this a “textbook example of how not to implement law.”

The bill seemed to appear out of nowhere after Redford was elected, and was one of six pieces of legislation tabled in a speedy two week fall session. Redford used closure, which limits the amount of time a bill is debated, and late night sessions to hastily pass the bill. The criticism doesn’t just come from the opposition parties and the hospitality industry, but from mlas in Redford’s own caucus.

pc mla Richard Marz for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills voted against the bill, doubting that the bill would lower traffic deaths as Redford intends. Redford and her team didn’t thoroughly consult key stakeholders such as the hospitality industry, opposition parties, interested Albertans or even the entire pc party. mlas complained that they didn’t have time to inform their constituents or properly examine the bill, but they still voted the bill through in true pc majority style.

Redford also promised fixed election dates. Yet Albertans have received “fixed time of the year” election dates. The government still gets to choose which time between March and May they want to call an election. British Columbia’s elections are held on the second Tuesday in May every four years, with the next one May 14, 2013. Saskatchewan’s elections are held on the first Monday in November, every four years. How hard is it to pick a date?

Redford also broke her promise to restore $107 million in education funding by finding savings in the budget. Redford announced when she became premier that she would find the money by cutting costs in less priority areas, but in fact she has taken money from the savings fund to uphold her promise. Redford is trying to make herself look good now but she’s not thinking of Alberta’s future when she does things like this.

Albertans chose Alison Redford because she offered people the opportunity to maintain a level of stability and continuity while breaking up the stale, stuffy conservative politics we’ve put up with for so long. However, rather than tackling the situation in a new way, Redford has shown herself to be nothing more than a continuation of Stelmach’s embarrassing reign, with lipstick.

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