2.02.2012

Former P.C. Insider: “You don’t really think Redford is calling the shots, do you?”

In the few short months Alison Redford has been premier of Alberta her government has established a clear ‘Premier Mom knows best’ method of governing the province.

The unelected premier has instituted some social engineering policies and her cabinet has mused about bringing in some others. Intrusion into the lives of voters, all with the excuse that our government knows what’s best for us, has become almost an early signature of the Redford regime.

Albertans, already concerned over a government that has dug an economic hole in a province flush with energy dollars, have become increasingly unsettled with the penchant the Progressive Conservative group seems to have for big government.

Now we learn that Alison Redford has decided to add to her ‘Premier Mom’ image with a slice of some good, old fashioned ‘do as we say, not as we do’ cake. Sound bite after sound bite has told us her government will be fiscally responsible, that they are taking the province’s finances seriously and will not waste taxpayer dollars.

The P.C. announcement of a ‘zero-based budgeting’ scheme for their upcoming budget has filled the airwaves with Tory spin doctors, including the Premier herself, working extra hard to give the impression of accountability.

We are supposed to notice how fiscally responsible Alison Redford’s government is.

What we are not supposed to notice is this week’s taxpayer funded jaunt to the Jasper Lodge. We are not supposed to ask about the cost of last month’s P.C. Farewell Tour – something I have been inquiring about repeatedly.

Of course, I’m not important. I’m only a life-long Albertan who pays my taxes and votes in elections. I’m not a Progressive Conservative insider so there would be no expectation that the government would bother to answer my query.

So instead I called someone who is – was – inside the P.C. tent for a long time. I’ve spoken with ‘John’ many times before, and know him as direct and forthright.

“You don’t really think Redford is calling the shots, do you?” was his first sentence. “She’s a figurehead. Just like the ‘90’s under Ralph Klein. He was the face of the government, the one who stood in front of the cameras and took the hits, but it was his inner circle, people like Jim Dinning and others in his caucus that ran the show.”

John believes what many Albertans have come to suspect: While there may be a new butt in the premier’s chair, it’s the same old ringleaders running the government.

“I’d suggest that Alison Redford had to win the P.C. leadership race,” he continued. “Party brass saw the threat of the Wildrose emerge with a dynamic, intelligent leader who happens to be a woman. Having a female leader of their own was, in their thinking, a way to diffuse the possible advantage. Having Redford go up against Danielle Smith seemed a better prospect than sending out someone like Gary Mar.”

So who does John think is really pulling the strings behind the scene?

“My guess would be that folks like Ted Morton and a select few others hold a lot of weight. I think it’s obvious that (Treasury Board President) Doug Horner is the one who is really in charge. I think by losing the leadership race, he actually became the head of the Progressive Conservatives.”

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