Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Education Minister Jeff Johnson attend an event at a high school in Okotoks

Redford sorry for cost of Mandela trip, but will not repay taxpayers

Alberta’s premier apologized Monday for the $45,000 it cost to go to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa, but said she is not willing to repay the money.

CALGARY — Alberta’s premier apologized Monday for the $45,000 it cost to go to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa, but said she is not willing to repay the money.

Alison Redford says the amount caught her off guard, but the trip still falls under taxpayer-funded government business.

“It certainly has come to my attention that there were some decisions made that week without the full and complete information that we could have had, which didn’t even follow our normal procedure in terms of trip planning,” Redford said after a school funding announcement in Calgary.

“Mistakes were made. I accept responsibility for that and I apologize.”

Redford has been criticized for not keeping a closer eye on the costs of the trip and the Opposition Wildrose party had demanded she repay the entire amount.

Redford was invited to be part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s delegation in December.

“From my perspective this was a trip that was part of the Canadian delegation. It was business of the government of Alberta and I attended on that basis,” she said. “I certainly take responsibility for the processes within place and I do apologize for that.

“It was very interesting for me to have the opportunity during that trip to have discussions with others who were on that trip with respect to work in Alberta. I do think it is part of the work a premier is asked to do.”

Redford, who once worked with Mandela, made the journey with an assistant and indicated last week she wouldn’t have gone to the funeral if she had realized how expensive it would be.

The premier and her aide took a provincial government plane to Ottawa at a cost of $15,000 to catch a free flight with Harper to South Africa. She and the aide flew home early on a commercial flight at a cost of $10,000 each to attend the swearing-in of her new cabinet.

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

They suggest that Redford’s spending on trips abroad shows contempt for taxpayers, but she has said she will continue to travel to drum up business.

Just Posted

Criticism over failure to mention Muslims ‘completely baseless,’ says Scheer

OTTAWA — Andrew Scheer says criticism over his initial failure to mention… Continue reading

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a May byelection in… Continue reading

WATCH: UCP leader Jason Kenney makes stop in Red Deer

A rally was held in the north end of the city Saturday afternoon

Good-bye ice and snow, hello potholes on Red Deer roads

City workers will be spending 20 hours a day on various road repairs

Fog advisory in effect for Red Deer, central Alberta

Heavy fog is affecting visibility for central Alberta drivers Saturday morning. A… Continue reading

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Online real estate auctions try to shake up sales with novel approach

An online auction for a luxury home in Abbotsford, B.C., is drawing… Continue reading

Norway cruise ship guests recall tipping, terror of water

STAVANGER, Norway — Rescue helicopters took more than 475 passengers from a… Continue reading

Cyclone death toll above 750; fighting disease new challenge

BEIRA, Mozambique — Cyclone Idai’s death toll has risen above 750 in… Continue reading

FDA takes up decades-long debate over breast implant safety

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials are taking another look at the safety… Continue reading

Adele and Jennifer Lawrence whoop it up at NYC gay bar

NEW YORK — Bar patrons in New York’s Greenwich Village were in… Continue reading

Montreal priest stabbed during mass leaves hospital; suspect to be charged

MONTREAL — A Catholic priest who was stabbed as he was celebrating… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $35.7 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $35.7 million jackpot… Continue reading

New report details impact of proposed NS spaceport in event of explosion or fire

HALIFAX — The head of a company proposing to open Canada’s only… Continue reading

Most Read