Former Alberta premier Alison Redford’s expenses continue to haunt her.
More damaging documents came to light Friday, including Ms. Redford’s now-cancelled plans for an Edmonton premier’s residence on the top floor of a provincial office building in the process of being renovated. The plans, overseen by Ms. Redford’s then-executive assistant, called for the inclusion of sleeping quarters for an adult and a teenager, a formal dining room for 12 people, a butler’s pantry and a lounge area.
The documents, originating from a CBC Freedom of Information request, outline how the model for the suite – to be located in the Federal Building – was to have been the luxurious Hay-Adams hotel in Washington, D.C.
It might have been a visit to Quebec City that spurred Ms. Redford’s push for a capital city penthouse. Stephen Carter, a former campaign strategist for Ms. Redford who briefly served as her chief of staff, said she was impressed by meetings and a dinner held at the “spectacular” Quebec premier’s residence in January, 2012, when Jean Charest hosted an Alberta delegation.
“It was used by the provincial government for the premier to host other premiers or other dignitaries, and to conduct the business of government,” Mr. Carter said of the residence located in Quebec City’s Price Building.
Alberta doesn’t have an official residence in the province’s capital for the sitting premier. Ms. Redford, whose home base is in Calgary with her husband and 12-year-old daughter, received a housing allowance for time spent in Edmonton. Mr. Carter said Government House, a historic Alberta building in Edmonton used for ceremonies, is too small and its facilities aren’t up to date.
Ms. Redford formally resigned as premier last weekend amidst low polling numbers, travel expense controversies and questions about her leadershipfrom within her own party. Dave Hancock is now Alberta’s Premier, and the interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives until the party selects a new head in September. But opposition parties said the planned “palatial suite in a public building” is outrageous. Alberta NDP MLA Deron Bilous said Alberta’s cabinet must have signed off on the plans. “This goes beyond the premier’s office or Alison Redford,” Mr. Bilous said. Plans for the suite were cancelled but it’s unclear exactly when. In news reports the province’s former infrastructure minister said plans were abandoned in late 2012. However, current Infrastructure Minister Ric McIver – appointed to the job in December, 2013 – said as soon as he heard “rumours” of plans for the suite in January, 2014, he summoned his deputy minister to make sure they were cancelled. He said he never asked the premier’s office for permission to kibosh the suite.
“I made it extremely clear there would be no residential component, full-stop,” Mr. McIver said Friday in an interview, noting it’s unclear whether any initial construction on a suite took place.
“I did not believe the public would be in favour of a residence there,” said Mr. McIver, who hasn’t closed the door to running in the PC party leadership race.
A staff member at Ms. Redford’s constituency office directed all calls on the suite to Alberta’s Infrastructure department. Mr. Hancock’s office also declined comment on the matter.
On Friday, the government also released the severance payments for nine of Ms. Redford’s now-dismissed staff totalled $1.14-million. For instance, Ms. Redford’s chief of staff Farouk Adatia – a former partner in a top Calgary law firm – received $366,879. Former Conservative MP Lee Richardson, who acted as her principal secretary, received $231,809.