High-flyin' Alberta premier Alison Redford.
Credits: TOM BRAID/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
CALGARY -- Premier Alison Redford defended her high-flying travel expenses Wednesday, which will soon include her second trip to Asia.
\Redford's come under fire for a spate of globe-trotting that cost taxpayers $84,000 for a trip to the London Olympics and will also include a roughly $67,000 tab for a trip to China this weekend -- her second since becoming premier.
But Redford said the China trip is being made on the urging of her government's trade officials.
"The advice I'm getting from our office in Asia is that it's important for me to be there," Redford said.
The main event, she said, will be a trade conference which could impact the market for Alberta beef.
"It's very important for us to be there to protect our market," she said.
The importance of Redford's presence in Asia calls into question the merits of the province's Asian consulate in Hong Kong, headed by former Tory cabinet minister Gary Mar, Wildrose Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson said.
He also noted the province is looking at posting a possible $3 billion deficit this year, which should have the premier's office reining in its expenses.
"Maybe they should just shut the Gary Mar office down," he said.
He also questioned why it should cost so many tens of thousands of dollars for the China trip.
"They continue to show they don't have a high regard for taxpayer dollars," Anderson said. "It's the whole big government attitude that has to change."
But Redford insisted the head of government is in the best position to showcase the province internationally.
"Seniority of representation matters," she said. "This is what international trade looks like, this is what putting Alberta on the world stage looks like.
"I think it's important for the premier of the strongest economy in the country to be able to be there."