Months after dodging resignation calls for political opponents and her fellow caucus members, former premier Alison Redford announced late Tuesday night that she was stepping down as MLA.
The former premier announced in an opinion piece published in the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald, that mistakes were made and she was stepping away from politics.
“I recognize that mistakes were made along the way. In hindsight, there were many things I would have done differently. That said, I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made,” she said.
Redford had been a lightning rod for much controversy since February of this year, when it was discovered that she had expensed her daughter’s flight from Edmonton to South Africa to the taxpayers of Alberta.
The most recent allegation that was announced was that she had forced people off flights to fly in the plane privately.
In the article, Redford understood that the topics of the improper expense claims would still be raised, but she admitted to doing nothing wrong.
“With my resignation as an MLA, the question of the transition allowance will be raised. My decision was made a long time ago, when I said I did not agree with it and that I would not accept it. I made a commitment, and I will keep it.”
Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke said, in an interview Wednesday morning with the Lloydminster Source, that the news of Redford’s resignation didn’t come as a big shock to him.
“There was a tremendous amount of pressure brought to bear by the former premier,” he said.
While talking to Albertans, Starke said that more people are disgusted by the treatment of the former premier in the media than anything else.
“I have talked to people and they are disgusted about the way people have treated her, particularly in the media,” he said. “They are more disgusted by that than some of the allegations levied against the former premier.”
Starke said that the PC Party has been moving the province forward since the resignation of the former premier in March, and he doesn’t expect that work to stop after Wednesday’s announcement.
Interim PC Leader, and current Premier Dave Hancock spoke with media on Wednesday morning, about the resignation of the Calgary-Elbow MLA.
“Leadership is always a difficult thing, those of us who have been part of the political process know that it can never be about you as an individual, but has to be about Alberta as a whole,” he said. “When the individual becomes the issue, a good leader takes themselves out, and that is what Premier Redford did in March. That is exactly what she has done (Wednesday), which will allow the government to focus on the important issues of the day, and moving forward.”
PC Party president Jim McCormick distanced the party from the former premier, by pointing to recent scandals and said they were ultimately what cost her the respect of voters.
“She has paid a personal and political price for her mistakes, and we appreciate her decision to take responsibility for her actions,” he said. “This circumstance won’t happen again.”
Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle said in a press conference in Edmonton that the former premier did the right thing.
“She finally did the right thing, over the last couple of week it became apparent that she was no longer fit to hold the position of MLA.
“While we disagree with some of the Ms. Redford’s politics, and her conduct while in office, we at the Wildrose recognize her contributions to the constituency of Calgary-Elbow and all of Elbow.”
Towle said that the whole PC caucus now wears all the scandals that Redford was involved.
“With Redford no longer in caucus, the PCs will no doubtfully try and convince Albertans that all the problems were her fault,” Towle said. “She will no doubtfully make a good scapegoat, they will certainly try to cling to power.”
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said, in a prepared news release, that the former premier’s resignation as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow is both long overdue and a sad ending to a career which once held so much promise.
“While it may be difficult to remember now, there was a time when a great many Albertans hoped Ms. Redford would be an agent for positive change in Alberta after years of PC scandal and mismanagement. That these hopes were so completely unrealized is not something to celebrate. Albertans still yearn for good government that puts their needs first, instead of constant scandal and incompetence,” he said.
Alberta NDP MLA Deron Bilous said in a news release, “It’s obvious that the PCs hope this resignation will distract Albertans from the extremely serious issues raised by the Auditor general about abuse of government aircraft and expense policies.
“Albertans know that Ms. Redford did not act alone in her abuse of government planes and resources and that the issues of entitlement and disrespect for public dollars will not change when she is no longer an MLA.”
PC leadership Candidates sounded off on the resignation of Redford, wednesday, as well.
“Alison Redford did the right and honorable thing today by resigning as a Member of the Legislative Assembly,” Jim Prentice said in a statement released via Facebook.
Thomas Lukaszuk, who had been critical of the former Premier and had been calling for her resignation said in a Facebook post that it was the beginning of a new chapter for Alberta.
“I wish everyone involved all the best on their future journeys. Now is time to focus on tomorrow in Alberta.”
Ric McIver said that the decision that Redford made was difficult, but necessary to move the province forward.
Redford’s resignation comes on the heels of what is expected to be a damaging report from the Alberta auditor general’s office. The report is expected to outline detailed information about Redford’s travel on government flights.
Hancock, during his press conference, announced that when the report is released today, he will ask the attorney general to look into the matter further.
“Based on what I have read in the report, and after seeking legal advice, as soon as the report is publicly available tomorrow I will be directing the minister of Justice and solicitor general to refer this matter to the RCMP for their review and any investigations that they consider appropriate,” Hancock announced.
With Redford’s resignation, the PC have 58 seats, Danielle Smith led Wildrose Party has 17 seats, the Liberals have five, and the NDP have four. Currently, there are two independents, Len Webber and Donna Kennedy-Glans , who both resigned from the PC caucus because of allegations against Redford. As of Tuesday morning, Kennedy-Glans has requested to be re-admitted to the PC caucus.