Friday, 20 April 2012

Premier Redford Says She Didn't Know Mar Got Reinstated

Yesterday the Rutherford show revealed that Gary Mar, former leadership candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party, had been cleared of ethics violations and reinstated as Alberta's envoy to Hong Kong.  Rutherford quoted anonymous sources.  Alison Redford, who suspended Mar without pay said she had no knowledge of his reinstatement.

"I didn't know it had been resolved until I heard that it was on Rutherford this morning.  We put in place that process because it is a public service circumstance. It's something that Peter Watson has been dealing with. I haven't been made aware of it so I have no comment on it."

This is interesting and both unbelievable, since Redford ordered the probe and suspended Mar without pay when it was revealed that Mar had allegedly used his office to promote a fundraising event to pay off debts incurred running against Redford in last year's PC leadership race.

Gary Mar, who was the forerunner of the PC Leadership contest and had won the first two polls with more than 41%, and only lost in the third ballot, when the second choices of the third place candidate were counted to determine the eventual winner, which was Redford.  

Redford had initially asked the Ethics Commissioner to lead the probe, however when he advised Redford that he didn't have the jurisdiction she assigned the case to Peter Watson, who works out of the Premier's office.  

Redford said that ""At that point it moved to the public service and Peter Watson took on the responsibility and he has carried that responsibility and I have had no part of it."

The whole situation was handled badly and doesn't speak well of Alison Redford's leadership.  There seems to have been a certain overreaction when the incident was first brought to light and for a human rights expert, it seems odd that Redford would have not applied the rule of "Innocent until proven guilty".   It almost smells of vindictiveness.  

New Democratic Party leader, Brian Mason also thinks it was handled badly and that he thinks the information that Mar was reinstated was suppressed.

"The fact she left her challenger for leader hanging for well over a month while his reputation was in the balance was not how you deal with people.  If he violated the ethical guidelines he should have been fired and not treated the way he was.  I think it was frankly suppressed until after the leaders' debate."
Raj Sherman, Liberal Leader, joined he chorus and said that he believed the reinstatement was suppressed.
"She promised change, the day after the election she started making patronage appointments. Mr. Mar is allowed to ask for a job but it is her job to make it fair.  They've been scratching each others' backs for too long and Albertans are getting ripped off."
Mar was appointed as the Hong Kong envoy without competition.  
In  her short few months as Premier, Alison Redford has not really been a shining light.   As soon as she got into office, Redford restored $100 Million to education, without making any adjustments to her budget.  Although she promised to do this within ten days, diligence should have been used to ensure that all other aspects are covered.   It is no surprise that whenever cuts are announced bureaucracies have difficulty in cutting in their own backyard.  Cuts are almost always carried on the backs of teachers.  At the very least the PC government should have conducted a study to see where the education funding is being spend.

Redford's second move was the approval of Bill 50, the portion that approved the Heartland Transmission  Project to the East of Sherwood Park, near Edmonton.  This action was taken despite the fact that a closer examination of the requirement for the transmission lines were needed.

The Alberta Uitilities Commission(AUC) states in its decision that the Alberta Government has taken away the Commission’s legal ability to deal with the costs of the line and whether Bill 50 lines are even needed.  The AUC emphasized in its decision that Cabinet now makes those decisions and Bill 50 prevents the Commission from turning down any Bill 50 line on the grounds that it is not needed or that it is not in the public interest.  More Here

This was followed by the "Do Nothing Committee", a committee that never met for 39 months, but collected $1000 a month for being a member.  Yet Redford didn't think it was necessary to pay back the almost $40,000.  After being shamed by the opposition, she reluctantly asked her party members to pay back $6,000 and after more pressure told them to pay back all of it.  Is this leadership?
A recent TQHQ poll, conducted on April 17th and 18th, with over 1400 respondents, indicates that 51% of Albertans don't think that the Progressive Conservatives deserve to be re-elected, while 28% think they do.  21% are not sure.  Poll Here 

During the last election, Albertans did not have much choice and it resulted in only a 40% voter turn out.  This election seems to have a lot of interest and based on advance polls that opened yesterday and continue today and tomorrow, the turn out has already been high.  The election is on April 23rd.  Regardless of the outcome, polls indicate that the PCs will be  hard pressed to get a majority, if a minority government.  The political landscape is changing in Alberta and not a minute too soon.  41 years of Tory rule is enough.  Yep it's time Alberta.

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