Premier under fire for government-only internship program

Alberta Premier Alison Redford is under fire for setting up an student internship program that the opposition parties claim is really a “recruitment” program for young Conservatives.

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford is under fire for setting up an student internship program that the opposition parties claim is really a “recruitment” program for young Conservatives.

The government quietly launched its $324,000 Alberta Student Ministerial Internship Program without issuing a news release.

Unlike an earlier, non-partisan intern program in the 1990s that was open to all political parties, this program allows only the premier, cabinet ministers and other senior government officials to hire a student to work in their offices.

“We launched this earlier this year and simply did it over social media and had over 300 people apply for the program,” said Redford. “I’m really pleased with that kind of response.”

She said the internships are intended to give young people experience in the public service.

Redford’s office confirmed that the intern program is being run by John Hampson, who has strong ties to the Progressive Conservative Party’s youth wing.

But spokeswoman Kim Misik said the selection of students to fill the 27 positions was a non-partisan process.

The NDP and the Wildrose aren’t buying that.

“(Redford has) basically created a taxpayer-funded young Tory recruitment program,” said NDP member Rachel Notley. “It’s arrogant and it’s an inappropriate misuse of public funds.”

Wildrose MLA Shane Saskiw agreed.

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