Alberta Premier Alison Redford

The list of promises broken by Alberta Premier Alison Redford just seems to keep growing.

Indeed, you could argue it grew again late last week with the mysterious disappearance of a reference to not making middle-class and low-income taxpayers pay for big arenas to further enrich billionaires from one of Redford’s recent speeches.

We wouldn’t have known about this one, of course, until the government handed over the cash to Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz (net worth, $2.4 billion) sometime after the next provincial election had it not been for an embarrassing fumble for some poor sluggo in the Pubic Affairs Bureau, the Progressive Conservative Party’s publicly financed in-house advertising agency.

And, theoretically I guess, we won’t really know it’s a broken promise until the cash is on the billionaire’s barrelhead. That interpretation notwithstanding, presumably speechwriter’s head is going to have to roll because the line wasn’t deleted that explained that building outdoor rinks in Alberta villages and hamlets is a better use of our tax dollars, than “being squandered on superfluous things like pro hockey arenas.”

This is sentiment with which most of us can agree, so the only real surprise is that it made it into even an early draft of the speech!

It’s pretty reasonable to conclude from this contretemps that, as expected by the more cynical among us, now that she’s premier, Redford has decided to change her tune and shuffle some more taxpayer largesse to the local billionaire with the most billions. And why not? Otherwise it might get hosed away on something like health, education or public transit!

In other words, we have another broken promise, No. 8, if your blogger’s count is right.

Now, for the sake of fairness, balance and accuracy, as they used to say, Premier Redford denies that any promises have been broken. “I am making commitments to Albertans that reflect exactly what Albertans want,” she told the Edmonton Sun. “They’re what I said during the campaign and we’re going to carry through on them.”

Still, just for fun, let’s make a list:

1)    There will be a fall session of the Legislature. Well, there was going to be one, then there wasn’t, then there was, but it was so short it really wasn’t.
2)    There will be a judicial inquiry into health care. No, we’re going to get an inquiry by a captive Health Quality Council of Alberta that is sure to be intent on not embarrassing the government.
3)    The Legislature will pass a fixed election date law. Instead, we get an unfixed election date law that we’re going to call a fixed election date law! Do we need remedial English classes for legislators?
4)    There will be an independent child advocate. Well, OK, not independent.
5)    AISH recipients will receive an extra $400 per month. Albertans who require Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, our province’s most vulnerable citizens, are still waiting, and still doing without.
6)    There will be big changes to the land assembly laws. This was supposed to assuage the concerns of Albertans in a dither about “property rights.” Instead, they’ll get “clarifications” and a task force.
7)    There will be no overall budget increase to cover restoration of education funding. Well, maybe not.

And now…

8)    No provincial money will be given to billionaire arena owners. “Ms. Redford, Mr. Katz on Line 1!”

And how many days is the Legislature in session? Eight days, this go-round. That’s a broken promise for every day MLAs are sitting! And that’s just my count…

Obviously, depending on one’s political and philosophical perspective, some of these promises are more important than others, and some never even should have been made. For example, it’s said here that putting the money back into education is more important than paring it out of other departments when the province’s long-term prospects are so strong, and it would have been OK just to say so.

That’s not the point, however. What we’re seeing here is a rather troubling tendency on the part of Redford’s leadership campaign not to follow through on promises apparently casually made before she had the job.

This does not bode well for our confidence that she will follow through on the promises her government is sure to make in the election campaign that’s coming soon.

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

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...