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Bad news for Alison Redford: You're only as smart as your last press release!

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Alison Redford

So, just how dumb is Alison Redford?

On the face of it, Redford, QC, Alberta's Minister of Justice and Attorney General, would appear to be a pretty smart person. Brilliant even.

Indeed, she's a classic overachiever: law degree, advisor on legal issues to numerous African countries, senior policy advisor to Conservative prime minister Joe Clark, appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations to be one of four international overseers of the 2005 Afghan national election, advisor to the justice minister and Supreme People's Court of Vietnam. No kidding! And that stuff's all before you press the button for the extended biography on her website.

But folks, you're only as smart as your last press release, and considering Redford's last press release yesterday morning, it may be time for a complete reassessment of how smart she actually is.

Now, the ostensible purpose of this release was to lament the failure of the federal Conservatives' divisive attempt to scuttle the national rifle and shotgun registry. It explained that Redford, along with Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security Frank Oberle, were both deeply sorry about the terrible events Wednesday in Ottawa that resulted in the national shotgun and rifle registry managing to hang on for dear life.

"Our priority as a government is to support police efforts to make Alberta communities safer," they jointly explained. "For that reason, we are disappointed in today's vote in Parliament to prolong the life of the long-gun registry."

Say what?

Let's see that again as it actually appeared in the news release: "Our priority as a government is to support police efforts to make Alberta communities safer. For that reason, we are disappointed in today's vote in Parliament to prolong the life of the long-gun registry."

What? Because it might make Alberta's communities too safe?

Yeah, I know, there are a zillion guys out there with tattered bumper stickers on their camo pickup trucks that say "The West Wasn't Won With a Registered Gun," "No Wheat Board, No Long-Gun Registry," and "Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark" who will bore you to literal tears explaining to you why the registry makes you less safe by limiting your ability to resist the invaders in black helicopters or fight your way out of the secret prisons under the airport. But, you know…

The release goes on: "Premier Stelmach has been very clear: We need to devote our law-enforcement resources where they will do the most good. That means real and effective programs and initiatives that will make our communities safer instead of a registry that front-line police officers across the country agree adds little value for its cost." (Emphasis added.)

Really, we've all been back and forth on this one for the past few days, so there's not much point in repeating all the arguments. Just one question about this, then. Where did Redford's PR brainiacs get this last tidbit, that "front-line police officers across the country agree" the registry adds little value for its cost?

Because, you know what, there is no credible research whatsoever that supports this opinion.

Surely this dubious claim wasn't based on that Internet straw poll that appeared in the reader forum run by an on-line magazine for cop wannabes replete with ads for battle-hardened sniper scopes? Even the magazine's publisher repudiated it. What the police really thought was pretty darn clear, and it was not that.

If this is the quality of research Albertans are getting from their government, it sounds as if it may be time to crank up the petroleum royalty rate so we can afford to hire some more researchers -- there will probably be a few capable Statistics Canada employees at loose ends soon.

Seriously, folks, do the Attorney General and the Solicitor General of Alberta really believe this stuff. It's pretty hard to credit. Do they even read their press releases before they sign their names to them?

The fact is, the likely explanation for this news release is pretty obvious. Redford in Calgary-Elbow and Oberle in Peace River both occupy the Legislative seats for ridings that are seriously threatened by the Wildrose Alliance led by Danielle Smith.

Many movers and shakers in the Tea Party government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper openly support Smith with financial contributions, and political aid and comfort.

Yesterday's news release was a transparent -- and likely doomed -- attempt to make nice with Harper so he won't send more cash and operatives Smith's way.

Rhetorical questions aside, Redford is no dummy. For that matter, neither is Oberle. But apparently they both think the voters of their ridings are. Perhaps those voters will have an opportunity to let their MLAs know what they think of that when Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach next calls an election.

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

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