After weeks of being pressured to repay $45,000 of taxpayer money spent on a trip to South Africa, Alberta Premier Alison Redford has finally done just that.
“I want to sincerely apologize to Albertans for these costs,” Redford said in a news conference. “And I’ve put in place measures to ensure this never happens again.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper invited Redford, along with other Canadian leaders, to join him for Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Redford had previously worked with Mandela to establish democratic reforms in South Africa prior to her own political career.
Part of her expenses included $15,000 to take a government plane to Ottawa for the flight, $10,000 for an early return flight home, and first class travel for her aide, Brad Stables, who was not permitted on the federal plane.
In comparison, Nova Scotia’s premier required only $1,000 for his trip.
Redford initially acknowledged the costs but refused to pay them back. It was not until 18 members of her own Progressive Conservative caucus reportedly threatened to revolt that she finally agreed to reimburse the government.
Mount Royal University political science professor Keith Brownsey thinks this may be signalling trouble for the PCs and Alison Redford’s leadership.
“You see this in a leader that is starting to lose legitimacy and authority,” Brownsey told the National Post. According to him, parties that have held power for long periods of time – the PCs have led Alberta for nearly 43 years – tend to become divided and form cliques.
More of Redford’s expensive travel habits are coming to light – including $3,100 she spent on government planes for her daughter’s friends – while education and social services are facing cuts.