- Written by JENICA FOSTER AND TANIS BROWN JENICA FOSTER AND TANIS BROWN
- Published: 19 March 2014 19 March 2014
Alberta premier to step down Sunday evening
Alison Redford announced Wednesday evening that she will no longer be serving as premier of Alberta. Her surprise news conference came after weeks of turmoil as Alberta's leader faced blistering accusations of misspending and poor leadership.
"Quite frankly too much time has been spent in the last few weeks on questions of loyalty, allegiances and character," Redford said. "Too many people have been distracted from the important work that the people of Alberta have sent us here to do. And as leader of this government and this party, that has weighed heavily on my mind."
Spending and leadership problems
Redford came under fire from the public, her caucus and party members for controversial travel expenses. She has since repaid $45,000 to cover the expenses of her trip to South Africa for the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
But the controversy didn't end there. Last week, Len Webber, MLA for Calgary-Foothills, abandoned the PC party to sit as an independent. The National Post quoted Webber as saying, "I cannot work for an individual who treats people poorly, who treats our taxpayers' dollars poorly."
Associate cabinet minister Donna Kennedy-Glans also stepped down from the Tory caucus, announcing Monday that she would prefer to sit in the legislature as an independent. Kennedy-Glans said she was "increasingly convinced that elements of the 43-year-old government are simply unable to make the changes needed to achieve that dream of a better Alberta."
Surrounded by news crews Wednesday night, Redford responded, "Quite simply I am not prepared to allow party and caucus in-fighting to get in the way of building a better future for our province and for all Albertans. And that is why I am announcing today that with a profound optimism for Alberta's future I am resigning as premier of Alberta effective this Sunday evening."
Mixed reaction to Premier's resignation
Redford was first elected in 2008 as Alberta's justice minister and attorney general. She then became the leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party on Oct. 1, 2011. Six days later, she became the first female to lead the province.
Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, suggests Redford had bigger problems than gender. She said Redford had the opportunity as premier to renew our government, but instead didn't act on the resources available to her.
"While I think sexism may have been a part of the problem that Alison Redford faced, I think there were bigger political problems in terms of her consultation with caucus, her inclusion of them in decision making — taking advantage of the talents and resources they brought to government," she said.
While Williams was optimistic about Redford, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said these latest developments show that the "PC party cannot be fixed."
"The business of governing this province and leading it through its challenges will now once again take a backseat to the internal politics of the PC party," Smith said.
Redford's resignation drew a different type of reaction from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi who in a videotaped interview described Redford as someone who loved the province, worked hard, and made sacrifices.
"It's the story of a system that takes someone like that, chews them up and spits them out," said Nenshi, adding that public service can be a tough job. He said he hopes the new premier will figure out a way to avoid politics and focus on the people.
Dave Hancock, deputy premier and minister of innovation and advanced education, has been named interim premier of Alberta.
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