Less Redford bashing, more about future plans

So finally, the Progressive Conservative leadership contest has caught my attention — for a couple of reasons.

So finally, the Progressive Conservative leadership contest has caught my attention — for a couple of reasons.

One is Thomas Lukaszuk’s suggestion last week that Alison Redford should consider resigning her seat as MLA for Calgary-Elbow.

Lukaszuk should focus his run for the leadership — ergo premier of Alberta for perhaps a very brief period of time — on the bigger picture.

It’s evident that Redford has paid the ultimate political price for her wayward spending, travelling ways and unpopular style of leadership.

She’s apologized, resigned as premier and, through tremendous humiliation, returned to her MLA work. And most likely the latter job will only last until the next election.

I am not defending Redford’s record but how much blood out of a stone is enough? How much longer should the kicking go on when a person is already down and out? Let’s just burn her at the stake and be done with it.

Lukaszuk said on Friday that Redford should give serious consideration to quitting now, otherwise the decision could be made for her later.

He also threatened that should he become premier, Redford might not have a seat in caucus. My bet is Redford will not seek the nomination for her riding come the next election.

With more new revelations of other expensive travel costs associated with Redford’s time at the helm, the other two PC leadership candidates — Jim Prentice and Ric McIver — were also cluck-clucking.

When things go south, the operative word is “disassociate.”

The candidates are anxious to show voters that the Tory culture of entitlement only applies to Redford’s brief tenure as premier. How about this: in the interest of a more open, transparent government, show voters a full accounting of all travel costs associated with the premiers of Alberta over the past 40 years.

The other thing that caught my interest late last week was Prentice saying that Alberta Health Services should be decentralized to help deliver better care, and there should be stronger local input into how health are resources are allocated.

But he’s only talking about a little decentralization, not a major reorganization, and he wouldn’t saying goodbye to the AHS so-called superboard. We need more specifics.

He hasn’t provided them yet.

The existing 12 health care councils (from which we never hear anything) are each made up of 14 volunteers, who are supposed to advise Alberta Health Services. Prentice said these councils would report directly to the minister of Health, rather than AHS as they do now.

“They will be empowered to provide more direct advice, they will be empowered in more specific context in terms of how resources are allocated,” he said.

OK, that’s a start. But regardless of who they report to, health care council members are chosen, not elected, so who do they really represent?

You already know where I’m going with this, right?

If Prentice really wants to empower local people with how health-care dollars should be spent, how about returning to elected trustees to local health boards?

That’s the way locals had input about a decade ago. Elected trustees had a deep commitment to better local health care. These are the people who should be taking up the torch for issues like shorter surgery wait times and more beds for seniors.

One thing that elected trustees eliminates is patronage.

I wonder: would the Wildrose Party, which trumpets a grassroots approach to democracy, bring back elected hospital boards?

Prentice, believed to be the frontrunner for the PC leadership, needs to add more detail to his ideas.

Mary-Ann Barr is the Red Deer Advocate’s assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at barr@bprda.wpengine.com or by phone at 403-314-4332.

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