Alberta premier to ask RCMP to review travel expenses, gov't aircraft
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014 7:20AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 6, 2014 9:30PM EDT
Just hours after former Alberta premier Alison Redford resigned her seat in the legislature, Premier Dave Hancock said he will ask the RCMP to review government travel expenses and use of government aircraft.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Hancock said he will ask his justice minister to refer the matter to the Mounties “for their review and any investigations that they consider appropriate.”
The move also comes a day ahead of the release of the Alberta auditor general’s report into government travel.
Redford announced her resignation as MLA for Calgary-Elbow Wednesday morning in an open letter published in the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal. The move came after months of public scrutiny over her travel expenses while serving as premier.
In his statement, Hancock said he was “extremely disappointed” by Redford’s actions, but he refused to discuss details of the auditor's report before its public release.
"The report identifies a number of areas of concern and I think in the interests of completeness and in the interests of the public being fully satisfied that everything appropriate has been done, that it's appropriate to ask that certain issues in the report be investigated," he told a media teleconference.
Hancock said in his statement he “had great respect for (Redford) and great hope for the promise she showed early in her tenure.”
He added: “As she said in her own statement, a lot of good was done for Albertans and Alberta and that is why this turn of events is so unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, the Alberta PC Party released a scathing statement on Redford's departure from politics Wednesday, saying the embattled former premier has only herself to blame for her political demise.
Party president Jim McCormick also noted while Redford's premiership began with promise, "it was her own personal choices that led to her demise."
"She is alleged to have broken government rules, and taxpayer dollars were not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve," McCormick said. "She has paid a personal and political price for her mistakes, and we appreciate her decision to take responsibility for her actions."
McCormick added the same situation "won't happen again" and stressed the party is "more than just one person."
PC leadership candidates weigh in
Meanwhile, the candidates vying to become the next leader of Alberta's Conservatives weighed in on Redford's resignation.
Thomas Lukaszuk said requesting RCMP involvement was the right decision.
"Albertans must know that no one is above the law. Whether you are the premier or a minister or an MLA or a public servant -- law applies to you just the same," he said.
Jim Prentice, another candidate, said Redford did the "honourable" thing by stepping down.
Meanwhile, Ric McIver said the party would move forward from the entire affair, but would not "ignore the lessons of the past."
In her letter, Redford admitted "mistakes were made" during her tenure as premier, but said little else of the travel expense scandal that ignited months of public scrutiny.
"In hindsight, there were many things I would have done differently," she wrote. "That said, I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made."
Wildrose Party blasts 'culture of entitlement'
While the Alberta PCs may be distancing themselves from Redford, the opposition Wildrose Party said Wednesday the entire party is to blame for the spending scandal, which stems from a "culture of entitlement."
"With Ms. Redford no longer in caucus, the PCs will attempt to convince Albertans that all of their problems were her fault and hers alone," Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle told reporters during a news conference.
"But the fact is not a single one of them had the guts or the integrity to stand up to her," she continued. "By remaining silent in the face of such abuse, each and every one of them must wear Ms. Redford's record."
A $45,000 taxpayer-funded trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral caused public furor and led to a series of revelations over Redford's travel expenses. She eventually paid back the money spent travelling to the December funeral.
After the 49-year-old stepped down as premier, she stayed on as MLA for her Calgary riding. But controversies about her lavish spending continued.
Last week, Redford denied any personal wrongdoing after part of the AG report was leaked to the media. It was reported that false passengers were booked on government flights, making it possible for Redford to fly alone.
Shortly before her resignation, Redford admitted to flying her daughter and her daughter's friend on a handful of flights and paid back the equivalent airfares. She also admitted taking a government plane to a family funeral in Vancouver and bringing a plane in to fly her back from a Palm Springs vacation.
With files from The Canadian Press