EDMONTON, AB (November 22, 2012): Today, Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith called out Premier Alison Redford for the double standard evident in her different responses to revelations about questionable health expenses involving her sister compared to other public servants.
Premier Redford is refusing to comment or act on revelations that her sister, as an employee of the former Calgary Health Region, was reimbursed by taxpayers for her personal contributions to the Progressive Conservative party. However, when former Capital Health executive Allaudin Merali was caught in an expense scandal of his own, Redford called it “entirely inappropriate,” going so far as to say her government would have fired Merali if Alberta Health Services hadn’t fired him first. “When we point out that Lynn Redford’s expense claims appear to be in breach of Alberta elections laws, the Premier says she ‘has confidence in her sister,’” Smith said. “However, when it came to Allaudin Merali, the Premier was indignant at his expenses and expressed satisfaction with his dismissal. We just want to know why she has a double standard.” There is a clear difference in government actions in the two cases. Merali was fired for lavish and unethical but entirely legal expenses. Lynn Redford, whose expenses appear to be a clear breach of elections laws, remains in her job. Wildrose has been calling for a complete investigation of all expenses of all executives at all health regions dating back to 2005, insisting that the air needs to be cleared. Health Minister Fred Horne points to recent tightening of expense policy as justification for refusing to look back. However, even today, with health expenses under scrutiny, executives at a large health contractor that receives $700 million in public dollars have filed expense claims for expensive wine and working-hours drinks. “The cloud of suspicion needs to be cleared,” Smith insists. “We wonder why the government won’t act to do so.”