Documents made public Monday show Lynn Redford attended and hosted partisan Progressive Conservative party events at taxpayer expense while working as an executive with the Calgary Health Region.
The opposition Wildrose party used a freedom of information (FOI) request to obtain the documents, which they say show Lynn Redford – who is also Premier Alison Redford’s sister – expensed $3,500 on PC party fundraiser tickets, party AGM costs, and other political events between 2005 and 2008 while she was the Government Relations Advisor for the Calgary Health Region.
The documents also show Redford expensed donations to the Liberal Party of Canada. Out of the $7,668.28 expensed between 2005 and 2008 during her time with Capital Health Region, nearly half of the claims are related to political activities.
Taxpayers were billed for, among other items, $387 for drinks, liquor and bug repellent for a Tory MLA barbecue in 2007.
Under Alberta law, it is illegal for publicly-funded institutions like the Calgary Health Region to make political donations.
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“These Calgary Health Region expenses added to the morality scandal at Capital Health, raises legitimate questions about government conduct and the prudent stewardship of our precious health care resources across the entire province,” said Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith Monday.
Smith says her party isn’t necessarily asking for a full scale audit.
“The government could – and it should – simply order the complete release of all executive and board expenses, from all health regions going back to 2005 to present; that’s what we’ve been asking for. It won’t cost much to do it,” explains Smith. “Making the documents available publicly would allow the media and the public to see how the expenses were handled, who did the approvals, and what other abuses there were, if any.”
The Wildrose wants the expenses to be paid back.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford was in Ottawa Monday for a luncheon. She walked past the media without answering any questions.
While Premier Redford wouldn’t comment about the allegations, other members of her party did.
Monday afternoon, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk fired back at the Wildrose leader.
“The childish saying, when you point a finger four point back at you. I can tell you that I know that the leader of the opposition attended a federal conservative fundraiser, and the tickets to the fundraiser, so it’s not just a dinner, it’s a fundraiser for a federal political party, she expensed; not only for herself but for her Sun Media husband,” responded Lukaszuk.
Lukaszuk claims the fundraiser Danielle Smith attended was within the past four months.
“This perhaps may be a lesson to the opposition and particularly to the leader of the opposition that she’ll have to be very cautious with her accusations, particularly in the house when individuals don’t have the ability to defend themselves, and the last thing one should ever be doing is accusing one person of doing something wrong while engaging in the conduct exactly the same as she’s accusing others of doing,” said Lukaszuk.
Complaints of illegal donations to a political party in Alberta can be taken to the chief electoral office, which is independent of the provincial government.
“Whether it’s my brother or the Premier’s sister, they will be investigated just the same, and if something has indeed been proven wrong, they will be dealt with like any other Albertan,” said the Deputy Premier.
Concerns over executive spending in the Health Region were thrust into the spotlight in August, when documents showed Chief Financial Officer Allaudin Merali had claimed nearly $350,000 in expenses, including lavish meals, wine and repairs to his Mercedes Benz, which he claimed while he was an executive for the Capital Health Authority.
With files from The Canadian Press
Lynn Redford’s 90-page expense report can be viewed below:
Wild Rose Expense Claim