Redford takes poke at Wildrose Party

  • 9:23 pm, November 8th, 2012

Alberta premier Alison Redford speaks during a press conference at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alberta, on November 8, 2012.



EDMONTON — After a week of deflecting criticism over transparency issues — and many incoming questions to her cabinet on the floor of the legislature — Premier Alison Redford took a shot at the Wildrose Party on Thursday.

“I will remind people that during that election that other political parties sometimes wouldn’t let their candidates speak, sometimes put gag orders on their candidates, asked their candidates to put down $1,000 bonds and in some places sent campaign organizers and party officials to speak on behalf of party policy,” she said.

Redford said she has a front row of confident ministers who know their department and who can deliver the substantive answers opposition questioners are entitled to.

“I will not simply accept the fact that every time an MLA stands up and says this is a question for you, premier, that that therefore requires me to answer the question. We’ll continue to answer the questions as we feel appropriate,” she said.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said Redford isn’t keeping her promise about accountability.

“Despite her talk about openness and transparency, she’s not walking the walk. She talks an awful lot about raising the bar and we have yet to see that.”
Smith threw the doors to the following weekend’s Wildrose convention session open to the media.

“Of course they’ll be open,” Smith said, adding that she’d like to see the premier adopt a policy like the British where once a week for a half-hour she takes questions.

As to her Progressive Conservative party’s decision to bar the press from discussions on 13 proposed party constitutional amendments at this weekend’s annual general meeting in Calgary, Redford explained the secrecy, saying debate within the party has been “vibrant.”

“We’ve decided that we want to make sure that all delegates can have a free and open and frank discussion,” she said.

The provincial Tories’ constitutional rules committee is looking to scrap the “preferential” system that saw Redford come up the middle to beat out Gary Mar in the party leadership vote a year ago after a three-way minority split that included finance minister Doug Horner.

The same system upset the apple cart on 2006 front-runner Jim Dinning, when Ed Stelmach took more of Ted Morton’s support.

The new system could keep the contest between the top two candidates in lieu of a 50% majority, and would have pitted Redford against only Mar, or Stelmach against Dinning.

Redford said she knew there was discussion about a change to that system, but that it wouldn’t affect her and that she hadn’t given it much thought.
“Party leaders will decide what suits them best for the process,” she said.

Redford fielded reporter questions on MLA pay and perks in the wake of Monday’s majority Tory vote in the all-party member services committee to double the amount to be handed to MLAs to use either for an RRSP or as part of their taxable income.

The sum represents almost a month’s salary per year, the same amount pitched (and then retracted) as a transition allowance by Tory caucus whip Steve Young, causing an uproar in recent weeks after Redford herself barred the idea of a transition allowance in a pre-election promise.

“On Monday, we saw the culmination of six months work, so it wasn’t some magic change from Friday to a Monday, it was the culmination of committee work by an all-party committee over a six-month period,” Redford said.

“I do think it’s appropriate to have an RRSP, and for an employer to make a contribution to that and an employee, so that’s what we ended up with.”