Questions raised over Alison Redford's absence after Palm Springs sighting
Published Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:21PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:22PM EDT
Former Alberta premier Alison Redford is once again facing backlash, this time over her absence from legislature in the month since resigning from the province’s top political job.
Redford, who resigned on March 23 following unrest over her leadership and questionable expenses, continues to collect a salary as an MLA for the riding of Calgary-Elbow.
She has missed 11 sittings in the legislature since stepping down.
Redford’s staff notified the Speaker of the House that her absence from session is warranted, meaning she continues to collect her full salary. Alberta's rules state that MLAs will not be docked pay if they’re away for illness, injury, bereavement or official business.
And while Redford’s reason for absence has not been made public, she hasn’t been completely out of the public’s view. On Friday, Redford was spotted by a Calgary woman dining in Palm Springs, Calif.
“This lady and her daughter walked by and my husband said ‘Look, look, who’s that?’ I went, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s Alison Redford,” Conny Want said in an interview with CTV News.
“And then my girlfriend and her husband and son and daughter-in-law were there last night at the same restaurant and she was there again.”
The bistro in Palm Springs confirmed to CTV News that Redford had a reservation there on April 20.
Political scientist Robert Murray says the optics are “terrible.”
“Primarily because we don’t really know what it is that she petitioned (to get) the leave the speaker granted,” Murray told CTV News.
Murray suggests the backlash could impact Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party.
“As they’re trying to forge an identity away from her, she keeps creeping back into the media cycle, which is going to cause problems for the party,” he said.
Constituents in Calgary riding are unimpressed, saying their MLA is missing in action.
“I think she should resign. And normally, even after she resigned as premier, I was supportive,” said one constituent. “I thought perhaps she’d spend more time looking after us in Elbow Park but that hasn’t happened.”
Derek Fildebrandt, Alberta’s director of the Canadian Taxpayers Association, says voters would be willing to cut Redford some slack if she addressed the matter publicly and took unpaid leave.
“I think all she has to do is issue a brief statement saying, ‘I’m not up to the job right now, I’m going to take an unpaid leave of absence.’ And I think people will understand that.”
Fellow PC MLA Thomas Lukaszuk said unless she is unwell, Redford should return to the legislature.
“I think the expectation is clear, not only for MLAs, but for any Albertan who’s employed,” Lukaszuk said. “Show up at work and do the work that you’re paid for.”
A spokesperson for Alberta Premier Dave Hancock’s office says attendance matters are between an MLA and the speaker.
Had Redford not given notice to the Speaker, she would be docked $100 per day after 10 missed days.
With a report from CTV News’ Janet Dirks