Credits: QMI AGENCY
Back a day early.
Back to the Land of Ugly.
The mayhem begins Monday when the paper trail puts Lynn Redford, the premier’s sister, into a limelight where you don’t come out looking like a star.
Receipts show Redford, while a bigwig with the done-and-dusted Calgary Health Region from 2005 to 2008, charges up more than three grand in taxpayer dough on good times with the Tories.
You know, booze, mix and bug spray for a Tory MLA barbecue in Bragg Creek she helped plan on health region time.
Tickets to Tory fundraisers including premier’s dinners and a golf tourney. Hotel room for a Tory convention. Mileage to Tory shindigs.
The amount is small, the principle is not.
The revelation sparks a war of words on the floor of the legislature.
Those bankrolled by the public, like the health-care system, can’t be donating to political parties.
It is against the law.
The Wildrose call for a look-see into all health-care executive expenses back to 2005.
The province say they have new rules and they’re good and they’re being followed.
Alberta Health Services, now running the show, says past policies were “not well defined and were open to interpretation.”
Don’t look back.
Redford is now a bigwig involved with special projects for AHS.
That’s not all.
Then we find out on Tuesday the Wildrose will ask the judge heading up an independent probe on queue-jumping for medical care to have Lynn Redford testify when the hearings begin in a couple weeks.
Danielle Smith, the opposition leader, says it’s clear Redford was the go-to person connecting the Calgary Health Region with politicians.
And an exchange in the legislature in the spring of ‘09 convinces Smith that Redford needs to be asked a few questions.
In the to-and-fro, Harry Chase, then a Calgary Liberal MLA, asks former health minister Ron Liepert who he can contact to have his concerns about health care heard.
When Chase mentions he had gone to Lynn Redford in the past, Liepert says Chase still can.
Chase goes all gushy, saying Redford is “absolutely wonderful” in handling things.
Liepert’s response? “Good blood lines from the Attorney General.”
That is, her sister Alison.
Last year, Stephen Duckett, the former AHS boss, said when he took over there were designated go-to people for “discreet waiting list adjustments on request from MLAs.”
“I think it’s pretty clear she should be the first witness to tell us what she knows,” says Smith.
As for the expenses, Patti Grier, now chief of staff for AHS, a former Calgary alderman once touted for big things in Toryland before landing a plum post at the CHR and then AHS, gave the green-light to many Redford tabs.
The practice stopped when former AHS head honcho Duckett came aboard.
But in 2011, reports showed the new AHS prez Dr. Chris Eagle put in expenses for a premier’s fundraising dinner including a limo and airfare.
Ex-AHS board chair Ken Hughes said sorry for approving the billing.
He is now the energy minister.
Lynn Redford also inked her approval to the spending.
In the legislature, Smith pushes AHS to come clean and release all health exec tabs going back seven years.
Also under the Dome, NDP leader Brian Mason asks the Watergate question.
“What did the premier know and when did she know it? The premier tries to hide the truth and when that doesn’t work anymore the government hides the premier.”
The premier is in Ottawa.
Thomas Lukaszuk, the deputy premier, after calling the Wildrosers “bottomfeeders” looking for dirt, says “the most recent scandal” is from Smith.
She paid $100 for two tickets to a federal Tory fundraiser. Her people say they caught the clerical error before it was submitted as an expense.
Smith’s office in High River did bill taxpayers $125 for membership to the High River Chamber of Commerce. That’s it.
It is interesting while a few brave souls (hi, mom!) slammed the Calgary Health Region, many who now support Wildrose at that time still lived in Toryland.
Some attacked critics who dared speak against the party line. This scribbler was accused of picking on the Tories and being a communist.
They have seen the light, better late than never.
Smith says few knew at the time about over-the-top expenses or illegal donations from school boards, universities and local governments to the Tories.
What does Smith think as she looks over at those who stayed on the Tory Good Ship Lollipop?
“The arrogance is overwhelming,” says Smith.
“They either don’t think they’ve done anything wrong or they don’t think the public will care and they’ll get away with it.”
Are they right?