Truth be told, former premier Alison Redford is not the first Alberta cabinet member to just say to hell with it and take a few days off in a sunny spot after a major political setback.
It's a mild irony that the last one I'm aware of who did the same thing had just been kicked out of cabinet by Redford.
Now, the former cabinet minister in question was presumably fortunate in landing in a holiday spot that was apparently not as packed with well-heeled Albertans wielding high-end camera phones as Palm Springs. Surely Redford should have been aware Palm Springs is practically a suburb of Calgary! And nowadays, everyone with a cell phone is a paparazzo.
Still, it may nevertheless be worth all of us asking ourselves if Redford is being treated differently because of her prominence, her gender or her actions -- or if she's merely having a spectacular run of bad luck. Or, perhaps, it’s a bit of a combination of all of those things.
The former premier does seem to have a way of doing things that gets up ordinary voters' noses, and the word that people keep using is "entitlement." It's not so much that she's gone to Palm Springs, it's that she turned up there after being missing in action from the Legislature since March 23, when she resigned as premier after a rebellion inside her own Progressive Conservative caucus.
It's well known that she's recently notified the Speaker's Office she has a legitimate reason to be away, so please don't dock her pay as the rules allow. And just because she's in Palm Springs, I suppose, it's not impossible she really does have a proper reason -- although it sure sounds to a lot of folks who have to show up at work or not get paid like that entitlement thing again.
Indeed, the former cabinet member cited above was gone for a couple of days, and then got back to work as if nothing had happened.
When the Opposition asked questions about why Redford is missing in action -- which is after all the kind of question we pay Opposition members to ask -- Speaker Gene Zwozdesky blew them off by saying it’s not his job to keep track of the attendance of MLAs. This is true, in fact, but probably wasn't the best way to put it under the circumstances.
Actually, if voters think the Alberta Legislature or the House of Commons should keep and publish attendance records, they should tell their elected representatives. The Canadian Senate does, as a matter of fact, so there's a precedent. All it would take is a vote.
Regardless of the qualified sympathy many of us feel for Redford -- it's got to be a blow to be taken down as she just has been -- it's a little unseemly when this just keeps going on and on, week after week.
For her own sake, one would think, she either needs to be seen to be getting back to work, or to make her departure from the Legislature official.
That said, has it occurred to anyone that Redford is doing her duty -- to her party, anyway, if not to the voters of Calgary-Elbow?
After all, if the PCs are to pull off one more election victory -- or even just to survive the next general election as a functioning entity -- they need Redford to take the heat for all the party's problems over the past couple of years.
And what better way for that to happen than for the former premier to stay in the news behaving, you know, in a seemingly entitled fashion in a place like Lulu California Bistro?
Or maybe she's exacting her revenge on her caucus. Who knows? Not ordinary Albertans, that's for sure.
What matters is voters recognize that whatever has gone wrong after 43 years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta, it was manifestly not all Redford's fault!
The author is in British Columbia on family business, for which he booked time off work. He has not been spotted in any spots as nice as Lulu California Bistro, more's the pity, which sounds as if it would have been nice. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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