Former AB premier Alison Redford appointed to Crown corp. board

 [[{“value”:”Alison Redford was followed as Alberta’s premier in quick succession by Dave Hancock, Jim Prentice, and … Rachel Notley.
The post Former AB premier Alison Redford appointed to Crown corp. board appeared first on rabble.ca.”}]] [[{“value”:”

Welcome home, Alison. All is forgiven.

Well, maybe not everything. Behave yourself, though, and there could be an Alberta Order of Excellence in it for you one of these days!

Not long ago, Alison Redford was reviled in Alberta conservative circles. Which was sort of weird, seeing as back in the wee hours of October 2, 2011, the ruling Alberta Progressive Conservative Party picked her as their leader after one of those party leadership elections where anybody could buy a membership for a few bucks and get to vote with unpredictable results. 

Part of the problem was that she wasn’t supposed to win. Meeting in the back rooms, the old boys who made the decisions for the PCs had already decided on Gary Mar, an affable schmoozer first appointed to cabinet by premier Ralph Klein, to replace the departing Ed Stelmach.

Despite his genial manner, Mar could be counted on to do all the things the party establishment wanted done. Had he won, the PCs might still be running Alberta today with two New Democrats and a half a dozen Liberals in Opposition. Who knows? 

But at around two in the morning when the final count came in, Redford shocked everyone and narrowly won the party vote to lead the PC dynasty, founded by Peter Lougheed in 1971, into another election. 

She was sworn in as premier six days later. 

Also part of the problem was that her victory wasn’t really supposed to matter anyway, because the favourite of Conservative hard-liners and mainstream media to win the looming provincial election was the former Fraser Institute apparatchik and market fundamentalist who led the Wildrose Party, a young woman named Danielle Smith. 

Come the election on March 26, 2012, Redford shocked everyone a second time and won the general election with a loss of only five PC seats in the Legislature. 

Smith stomped off into history to be forgotten forever – or so we thought – telling a well-known reporter to “piss off” on her way out. She blamed loose-lipped Wildrose candidates and accused Redford of appealing to Liberal and NDP voters with progressive policies. It certainly wasn’t her fault. 

Alas, as premier, Redford’s leadership was not as successful as her campaigns.

There are still arguments about why. Suffice it to say for now that she wrestled with her personal demons and her government was dogged by scandals – some of which seem positively quaint by comparison with the things the United Conservative Party led by the resuscitated Danielle Smith gets up to nowadays.

There were some pricey travel expenses, for example, and misuse of the government’s aircraft fleet, which came to be known as Sneaks on a Plane. There was certainly arrogance and entitlement. 

As Redford’s popularity in office declined, bitter rumours circulated in Conservative circles that she had been put in office by teachers, civil servants, and health care workers who had joined the party to support a candidate that would implement policies they liked – just as the party leadership had encouraged Albertans to think they could. 

Sadly, Redford was a disappointment on that front, too, bringing in policies that were no less conservative than those Mar would have implemented, but with a much less kindly manner. 

Redford’s popularity with voters plummeted. Her panicky caucus, never comfortable with a woman at its head, rebelled. In the spring of 2014, she faced a caucus revolt. There was talk of 16 MLAs quitting to sit as independents. She was summoned to Government House and assigned a humiliating “work plan” by caucus. 

On March 19, she announced she would quit on March 23. Soon after, word leaked out about the Sky Palace, atop the former Federal Building, quietly designed as a downtown Edmonton residence for the premier and MLA for Calgary-Elbow. It became a permanent part of her tarnished legacy.

Redford was followed as premier in quick succession by Dave Hancock, Jim Prentice, and … Rachel Notley, unforgivably a New Democrat.

In conservative circles, Redford has hardly been referred to since without muttered curses. For her part, she has kept an extremely low profile.

How anyone with her huge potential and first-rate mind, as evidenced by her international and professional accomplishments before entering politics, could go so catastrophically wrong remains to this day one of the mysteries of Alberta political history.

Of course, it wasn’t just the party old boys who didn’t like her and wanted her to fail, although that was manifestly the case. Many of the ideologues and financial bagmen who lurk in the shadows of conservative politics and in media did what they could to ensure her failure too.

Now it is 2024. A decade has passed. Apparently someone has decided Redford has wandered in the wilderness long enough. 

In Orders in Council, without fanfare, she was named by Premier Smith to the board of Invest Alberta Corporation, the provincial Crown corporation set up to promote Alberta as a destination for investors. 

This does not amount to complete rehabilitation of the first woman to be Alberta’s premier, obviously. There was no mention of her appointment among the seven press releases published by the government last week. 

Still, it is a sign that the process of political rehabilitation is beginning. Soon she may be permitted to move back from metaphorical Siberia. Eventually, her sins may even be allowed to disappear down the Memory Hole. 

And maybe, one of these days, she really will qualify for membership in the Alberta Order of Excellence alongside Stephen Mandel, the former Conservative cabinet minister and Edmonton mayor whose appointment to that not-terribly-prestigious honour was announced

Also named in that press release was Nancy Southern, the oligarchical head of ATCO Ltd., the Calgary-based utility conglomerate. This seems fair. After all, what could be more excellent than inheriting billions from your mom and dad, who were inducted into the same order in 1988 and 2012. 

Also not warranting a press release was Premier Smith’s presence at the dedication of a statue of Winston Churchill, outside McDougall Centre in Calgary, the province’s Cowtown HQ. 

Unlike the shiny statue, Churchill’s reputation has lost its lustre in the years since the end of World War II, when he was Britain’s prime minister. One would hope the Calgary Police Service is keeping a sharp eye out for unexplained purchases of red paint. 

The post Former AB premier Alison Redford appointed to Crown corp. board appeared first on rabble.ca.

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