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  • Why is Redford Breaking Her Promises?

    There are 3 kinds of politicians. Those that keep their promises, those with hidden agendas, and promise breakers.

    The first and most unique kind of politician keeps all (or at least the vast majority) of the promises they make in order to get elected. Not all voters necessarily agree with the effectiveness of what such politicians do, however, they can be confident that he or she will do what they say.

    Ralph Klein was a good example of this. When running for Premier he said he would cut spending, balance the budget and keep government out of the business of being in business. Not all Albertans agreed with either the agenda or the means (although many certainly did), but virtually all Albertans could say they trusted Ralph to do what he said he would do; and because of that, Ralph became one of Alberta’s most popular Premiers.

    The second kind of politician is a more dangerous breed. These are the politicians that once elected, do things they didn’t tell the public they would do. During the campaign, they only promise support for things like motherhood and apple pie, but after election day, they find themselves reshaping things dramatically; and generally, voters don’t appreciate the lack of a heads up.

    Ed Stelmach was an example of this kind of leader. He didn’t run on anything controversial in 2008. But once elected, Mr. Stelmach went on an almost unprecedented law-passing binge which fundamentally altered how Alberta was governed. These changes included placing control of all health care delivery in the hands of a centralized Superboard, putting the power to plan all land use across the province in the hands of Cabinet, circumventing the regulatory process to build billions in new transmission lines, and essentially eliminating any meaningful role for MLAs to vote the will of their constituents. Needless to say, Albertans were not happy with this style of leadership, and it cost Mr. Stelmach his job.

    Which brings me to the last and most common kind of politician – the promise breaker. These are the folks that campaign on one thing, say whatever they need to in order to get elected, and then after winning decide to do something else. The public does not appreciate these sorts of leaders at all and for good reason. No one likes to be deceived, especially by those they entrust with one of their most important individual freedoms…their vote.

    Premier Redford is clearly beginning to travel the road of a promise breaker. In less than 3 months, she has now broken no less than 5 critical promises she campaigned on during the PC leadership race. These are as follows:

    Most seriously, she has broken her promise to immediately call a full judicial public inquiry into the allegations of health worker intimidation and payoffs for silence by government health officials. Redford made this a cornerstone promise of her campaign – one that differentiated herself from many of the other PC contenders. She said this inquiry MUST be led by a judge, MUST be open to the public, and MUST be conducted prior to the next election so voters had the full story before going to the ballot box. Last week, she made the first 2 criteria optional and the last one impossible.

    After promising fixed election dates like those in almost every other North American jurisdiction, Redford announced last week that she will instead call an election within a 3 month window. Her excuses for breaking this promise are laughable and insult the intelligence of Albertans. She says she changed her mind on the fixed election date promise just in case Alberta was experiencing a hard winter, in which circumstances she would want to delay the election until it was warmer again; yes, because we can tell 28 days in advance what the weather will be like in Alberta on election day…good grief.

    After saying she would review Bill 50 and the billions in unneeded transmission lines it calls for, Premier Redford has done nothing of the sort. First she put the transmission projects on hold. She then said she made a mistake and let the Heartland transmission line continue as planned without any review. And most telling, she still refuses to repeal Bill 50, thereby retaining the power to restart the 2 north-south transmission lines should she be re-elected at the next election.

    She said she would immediately put Bill 36 – the Landuse Framework – on hold pending a full review; she hasn’t.

    After committing to be more democratic and transparent than her predecessor, she immediately cancelled the fall session of the Legislature, then flip flopped and brought it back for 2 days, took a month off, and is now calling back MLAs to pass 6 major pieces of legislation in 4 full legislative days without any time to consult with Albertans. After telling us all how terrible it was for Ed Stelmach to ram new laws down Albertan’s throats without enough time to adequately vet and debate them, she is now making Ed look like a thoughtful and patient statesman in comparison.

    Ms. Redford has surprised even me as to just how quickly and blatantly she is breaking her promises. When she was elected I felt that despite her left-wing policies, at the very least, she would be more democratic and transparent by passing fixed election dates, calling a full public inquiry, and reviewing the litany of PC land bills and backroom deals that have trampled on the rights of Albertans…I guess I was wrong.

    I hope Albertans will urge her to keep those promises before the election is called (whenever that is)…or hold her and her Party accountable if they don’t.