Premier disappointed in $45K cost of funeral trip

OKOTOKS — Alberta’s premier says it’s unacceptable that it cost taxpayers $45,000 for her to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral and she wouldn’t have gone had she known the price tag.

OKOTOKS — Alberta’s premier says it’s unacceptable that it cost taxpayers $45,000 for her to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral and she wouldn’t have gone had she known the price tag.

Redford, who once worked with Mandela before she entered politics, was invited to travel with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of a Canadian delegation attending the former South African leader’s funeral in December. The premier’s office confirmed she travelled with an assistant.

“I’m not challenging the number. I’m surprised by the number,” she said Wednesday after making an education announcement south of Calgary. “I don’t think it was acceptable. I was disappointed. You can appreciate that it was a very fluid week and you can appreciate I’m not making my own travel arrangements in those circumstances.”

Redford took a provincial government plane to Ottawa to catch the free flight with Harper to South Africa, but she flew home early on a commercial flight at a cost of $10,000 to attend the swearing-in of her new cabinet.

“I have to say that if, at that point of time, we had understood . . . what some of those actual costs were going to turn out to be, and also how fluid the prime minister’s schedule was, I think I would have chosen not to go,” Redford said.

Opposition leaders have noted that Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil billed taxpayers less than $1,000 to go to the funeral.

They say Redford’s lavish spending on travel abroad shows contempt for taxpayers.

Wildrose critic Rob Anderson said Wednesday that Redford ought to have known the cost of her trip, or at least could’ve taken a good guess.

“One might ask how the premier didn’t know taking a private jet to Ottawa wouldn’t be expensive,” said Anderson, who added that Redford needs to pay the money back.

He said the trip, along with Redford’s recent $120,000 journey to India and Switzerland, suggests she has delusions of royalty.

“She obviously thinks she’s the Queen of England. There’s some kind of an identity crisis going on here. She’s not. She’s the premier of Alberta,” he said. “She needs to start showing respect for the taxpayers that she represents and spends the money from.”

Redford has also been criticized since the release of her government’s list of public-sector employees who make more than $100,000 a year,

Redford’s chief of staff, Farouk Adatia, led the way on the political side, pulling in more than $357,000 in salary and benefits in 2013.

Peter Watson, the top civil servant who works for Redford’s cabinet, was the top money-earner among mandarins at $342,000 in base salary.

The numbers showed that deputy ministers — the top civil servants in each department — earned salaries ranging in the low $200,000s to just over $300,000.

“Quite frankly it is important to compensate people appropriately. I’m not going to get into negotiating or discussing individual contracts,” Redford said “It’s a very competitive economy in Alberta. People are well compensated. Many of the people who work in the government of Alberta are paid more than in other jurisdictions across the country and that will continue.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Dallas Stars' Mark Pysyk (13) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat (18) compete for control of a loose puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) grabs a loose puck as Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot (8) and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) battle for the rebound during first-period NHL hockey action Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2021, file photo, Creighton coach Greg McDermott watches the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis. McDermott apologized publicly Tuesday, March 2, for using insensitive language in his postgame locker room talk with players and staff following a loss over the weekend. In a tweet, McDermott said he used a “terribly inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss.” (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

Sean Burke speaks at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The Montreal Canadiens have made another change to their coaching staff, appointing Burke to take over as the director of goaltending. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

The Toronto Arrows line up ahead of their Major League Rugby game in Toronto on April 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson watches her shot against Team Ontario in the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., on February 28, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship

Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship

Most Read