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Hurricane Redford shook Alberta to its foundations

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Alison Redford

Former premier Alison Redford signed off from public life in Alberta yesterday morning with the words, "I truly believe we made a difference."

Well, if nothing else, Redford got that part right! In less than three years Hurricane Alison, the royal plural and all, shook the place to its foundations.

After the lingering Air Redford scandal, the astonishing Sky Palace affair, the war on public employees, the attack on post-secondary education, the plummeting polls, the palace coup by her panicked caucus, not to mention the incredible, serial ineptitude of her government, it's quite possible this province will never be the same again.

Certainly the aftermath of the Redford Revolution continued yesterday, with a panicky sounding Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock vowing to call in the Mounties from his holiday villa in Italy, where you have to dial 1-1-2 to summon the Carabinieri.

An RCMP investigation will most certainly be a waste of the taxpayers' money with a purely political goal in mind -- distracting voters from the myriad sins of the PC Party -- but what they hey! The Tories aren't the first political party to do such a thing in such circumstances, and they won't be the last. And, as noted in this space yesterday morning, this being Alberta there's always the chance it'll work.

Opposition parties will now express their deep gratitude that Redford has at last done what they've been demanding, but behind the closed doors of their caucus rooms they are weeping. For them, Redford was a gift that kept on giving.

Her resignation -- just as her former deputy premier, Thomas Lukaszuk, was demanding that she be humiliated by public ejection from the Tory caucus -- and especially her refusal to take the generous Legislative payout to which she is entitled, will significantly muffle the sound of the many of her shoes one suspects remain to drop in in the province's political shoe closet. Alberta political observers assume that collection is as big as Imelda Marcos's!

Certainly, though, the uproar will continue for a spell -- with the Auditor General's report on her use of the government's air fleet, expected to be released to the public today, possibly with addition details to those revealed a week ago by the CBC.

The story by CBC's Edmonton-based investigative reporting team seems to have been what spelled the final downfall of Redford, but the writing was already on the wall.

The former premier will return to working in the international field, suggested her official swansong, which was published as an op-ed article yesterday morning in both Alberta's Postmedia-owned newspapers, the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal.

Some shrewd observers have speculated the lavish lifestyle to which senior international officials are accustomed is where Redford's seemingly spectacular sense of entitlement began. Don't count on it. This problem was created right here in Alberta.

Still, work abroad might be just the ticket for Redford. No corporation or institution in Alberta is likely to want her name and picture in its annual report now.

The text of the document published yesterday deserves deconstruction. These things are clear:

-    Redford doesn't really think she did anything wrong. Sure, she said, "I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made," but it seems pretty clear she's concluded it wasn't her decisions that caused all the problems. The passive voice tells all: "Mistakes were made along the way." By someone.

-    She thinks we, foolishly, didn't give her enough time. "I had hoped to have more time to do more of what I promised Albertans." It would all have gotten done, were it not for us.

-    She doesn't think she got it wrong, we did, small-timers that we are, mired in parochial concerns. "My hope for Alberta is that we will be bolder, more confident and prepared to seize our opportunities, remembering what we have to offer the world; that we will leave behind the day-to-day parochial political debate that is dominating the public discourse across this country."

-    She's not sorry, and she doesn't think the things that offended so many Albertans were such big deals. Leastways, she has nary a word to say about them.

If her weird pastiche of progressive posturing and regressive policies -- enough of everything to offend just about everyone in the province -- was a flop, we can conclude from this she thinks it was because we were too dumb to trust her to bring us into the 21st century.

It is a remarkably graceless document. Historians will have some fun with it.

But for all that, it is not unreasonable to ask how this intelligent and accomplished woman could have been the author of her own unravelling and downfall, in such an excruciating and public way.

This apparent willingness to ignore the possibility Redford was wrestling with her own personal demons is the most discreditable part of the Tory Establishment's otherwise understandable effort to ensure she alone wears the party's sense of entitlement and bland assumptions about the rightness of its rule.

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

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