Alberta Premier Alison Redford and sister Lynn Redford
Credits: QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON -- The premier's sister boosted the PC party using taxpayer dollars, the Wildrose Party says.
Lynn Redford, Alison Redford's sister, was acting as a government relations advisor in the Calgary Health Region when she expensed tickets to PC and Liberal fundraisers.
Of her expenses, 40% of the $7,668.28 between 2005 and 2008 went to political causes.
Vases, ice, alcohol and flowers were also expensed.
Health Minister Fred Horne said Monday he has confidence that all the staff now know the new rules.
"I'm not going to make any comment on past health regions. What I can tell you is we have very strict policy here at Alberta Health Services (AHS) with respect to these sort of donations."
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said the expense claims merit a system-wide investigation for all current and former health regions in the province.
"We've got people who have demonstrated poor judgement who are now making these same kinds of expense claims today," Smith said.
Patti Grier, who signed off on Redford's expenses, is now AHS chief of staff and corporate secretary.
Redford is now vice-president of special projects for AHS.
Monday afternoon, AHS released a statement saying policies and practices have been clarified.
The issue of expense accounts within AHS blew up when former Chief Financial Officer Allaudin Merali wrote off $350,000 between 2005 and 2008, including $2,300 for a car phone.
Following the scandal, AHS announced on Aug. 1 that all expense reports for the CEO, the executive vice-presidents and senior vice-presidents would be posted online.
NDP Leader Brian Mason says Conservatives are continually picking the public pocket and the government does nothing about it.
"We need to know from the premier what she knew and when she knew it," Mason said.
"I think this goes to the very heart of the confidence that Albertans can have in her leadership."
He charged there is a cover-up and the premier has known since the beginning, and if she is protecting her sister, it's a major conflict of interest.
New legislation that allows the results of the chief electoral officer's findings to be kept secret are part of protecting the PCs, Mason said.
"When you are using public money to lobby politicians and to fundraise for politicians, that is wrong," Mason said.
"Why should my tax dollars go to supporting the Progressive Conservative party? I don't support the Progressive Conservative party -- and if I did, I could do it myself, not using tax dollars."
Meanwhile, at a Monday afternoon press conference, Smith was confronted with her own expense claim snafu.
In response to seeing a copy of a $100 fundraising expense signed by her, Smith said, "I would have thought it was refused and it actually came back as not being paid, so I'll take a look into that," she said, adding that inappropriate claims made by her own party were rookie mistakes.
She said as she and other Wildrose MLAs were learning what the policy was, she tried to submit claims and some were rejected.
Smith also claimed a High River Chamber of Commerce membership as a business expense and that was reimbursed.
"I think it's an appropriate expense related to the duties I do in High River," she said. "If there was any issue, I'm sure the legislative office would tell me about that."