rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Flights of fancy: 11 days to the Ides of March and the knives are already out for Alison Redford

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

OTTAWA

What goes up must come down, we used to say, and that adage appears to include both Alberta Premier Alison Redford's in-flight fancies aboard the government's aircraft and the first-class compartments of commercial airliners, as well as her entire political career.

Who would have thought it would be airplane rides that brought this arrogant and erratic premier to earth?

But then, it's always the little things that catch the eye and offend the principles of ordinary voters -- arguments over the constitutionality of a bad law, not so much perhaps, but a too-expensive glass of orange juice or an airplane fare that seems over the top can be just the ticket.

There's a reason the sans-culottes were so bugged by that chance remark about letting them eat cake, whomever it was that actually happened to make it.

What really gets people about Redford, it seems to me, is her tone deafness about this whole affair -- she's the premier, for crying out loud, she seems to be saying, of course she flies first class. And the rest of us? They serve cake back in steerage, don't they?

Full disclosure: I flew first class once. I got bumped up there by Air Canada because of a ticketing error, which they acknowledged was their fault. And it is nicer than flying in the back of the plane. But is it worth $9,000 more than a regular ticket to Nelson Mandela's funeral? Not in my opinion.

So, no, as a taxpayer I don't think any politician should fly first class or business class on a commercial flight -- and, what's more, I think he or she would be a fool to do so, for the simple reason there are more voters back in the cheap seats!

But Redford doesn’t seem to get it that for people in high office, as was said of Julius Caesar's wife, the right thing must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

Which is why anyone in her position with an ounce of sense would have paid for her daughter's friend’s flight on a government airplane right up front without being asked, or not invited her along if there was no way to pay, because it was obviously not going to look right.

What's more, clear travel rules -- like those of any sensible employer -- that define in advance what's covered when travelling on business, and what isn't, would help politicians like Redford considerably.

Alas, Redford always seems to have too much noblesse and not nearly enough oblige!

Earlier today, the premier gave a news conference that the media described as emotional, but which on video merely looked choked up, in which she said she'd reimburse Alberta taxpayers a few thousand dollars for her personal use of their aircraft. But as for paying back the $45,000 airfare to South Africa the opposition is still screaming about, fuggedaboudit!

There are those who would say that when you've fessed up that you took something you shouldn't have, it's not repayment or reimbursement, it's restitution.

But the tone of Redford’s explanation was unrepentant either way, and indicated she still doesn't get it why people are so upset and frustrated with her.

"I clearly stood up in front of Albertans and said I screwed up," Redford said, sounding remarkably like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. "I certainly hope that is something Albertans understand." (Sotto voce: Yeah, yeah, how many times do I have to say I'm sorry?)

What's more, she said she'd asked the Auditor General to look into all the government's flights -- which sure sounds like a neat dodge to get out of having to answer any more questions in the Legislature.

Even worse, there is probably more to come. Leastways, nothing seems to have been reported yet about the premier's trips to India and Switzerland in January, and who would be willing to bet the bills for those jaunts won't land with a mighty thud as well once they're reported?

Unfortunately for Redford, with most of her former progressive supporters disillusioned by her spectacularly broken promises and her conservative caucus and cabinet in an uproar because they fear for their own political hides, she has virtually no friends left.

The Ides of March aren't for another 11 days, but the knives are already out for this premier, metaphorically speaking, and it's hard not to conclude she hasn't brought it on herself.

It's also hard to see how, if she doesn’t go soon, voluntarily or kicking and screaming, everything's not going to come up roses -- wild roses -- which is not necessarily a good thing either.

Where's Ed Stelmach, who these days looks like the noblest Albertan of them all, now that his province actually needs him? (That's enough Caesar references – Ed.)

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.