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.”

Just Posted

Red Deer police recover stolen Second World War German army passport, trying to find owner

A rare, Second World War era German passport was recovered by police… Continue reading

Four Red Deer skiers off to Alberta Winter Games

Four young Red Deer skiers are headed to the Alberta Winter Games.… Continue reading

Hurry Hard: Red Deer Oilmen’s Bonspiel starts on Friday

A January tradition in Red Deer, the Oilmen’s Bonspiel takes to the… Continue reading

City Hall briefly evacuated

Carbon monoxide false alarm behind evacuation

Charges laid in home invasion in Maskwacis

Three people injured with stab wounds

WATCH: Marijuana in the Workplace information luncheon held in Red Deer

Central Alberta businesses need to prepare for the legalization of marijuana. That… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month