KERRY TOWLE, MLA
Imagine going to your local travel agent to scan for the best flight prices to an exotic location. You want to take your spouse on a much needed and well deserved vacation to get some sun, see new sights and enjoy another climate for a while.
But what if your agent’s best price was $45,000? What would you do? You’d probably walk away.
What if you could bill it to someone else — would you take it then?
It might tempt you, but it’s unlikely. I think decent and common sense Albertans would know that charging such an outrageous and unjustifiable bill to someone else, even if you could, is just wrong when more reasonable options are so easily available.
So it bewilders taxpayers to learn that PC Premier Alison Redford recently did exactly the opposite of what every other Albertan would have. Instead of demanding a better deal, she suckered the taxpayers into paying $45,000 so she could attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
That’s $15,000 to fly to Ottawa on a government plane, where she hitched a free ride with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and then $10,000 for a first-class flexible flight back to Canada. Add in the $20,000 round-trip airfare for her personal assistant, and you get a $45,000 bill to taxpayers.
By comparison, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil attended the same funeral, but paid only $946.44. That means Premier Redford paid more than 47 times her Atlantic counterpart to achieve the same results.
We understand why the premier wanted to attend Mandela’s funeral, but why is Premier Redford’s travel so expensive? Like most of you, I’m scratching my head as to how these kinds of outrageous bills are even considered without a thought given to taxpayers.
This government has travelled more than any other in the history of Alberta, and the price tag has never been higher. The environment minister recently took an entourage to Europe, billing Albertans $40,000 for the privilege of having represented the province abroad. Not too long ago, the premier spent $120,000 to take an entourage to India. The itinerary involved some mid-level meetings, trade shows, a couple of low-level Memorandums of Understanding, and lots of sight-seeing.
Now, government travel is legitimate and can even be a good investment. This government, however, can’t seem to do anything economically. Everything is first class all the way. And you’re picking up the tab. The PC government just doesn’t seem to respect Albertans’ hard earned tax dollars.
Albertans can trust the Wildrose Official Opposition to hold this government to account for these kinds of abuse of tax dollars.