Dirt digging expedition backfires!

Brenda Schimke
ECA Review Journalist

Too often the political party that wins an election does not become the party of the people, but continues to represent only those who voted for them. Key positions in crown corporations, agencies, boards and institutions become political rather than competency appointments. So it’s not hard to understand that those working in the system don’t even think that the political party and their taxpayer-funded employment are separate and distinct.
Enter Premier Redford’s sister, Lynn.  In 2005, while working for the publically-funded Calgary Health Region, Lynn expensed $3,067.31 related to Progressive Conservative political causes.  Albeit, this example is insignificant compared to the many examples cited annually by the Auditor General, it’s indicative of the wide-spread problem.
But Danielle Smith’s attempt to tie it to Premier Redford is a big stretch.

Lynn’s expense claim happened during a period of time when Allison Redford wasn’t even a MLA, let alone the Premier. She didn’t run for office until the 2008 election.
In 2005, our premier was the beloved Ralph Klein. The Deputy Premier was East Central Alberta’s own, Shirley McClellan. Iris Evans was the Health Minister with responsibility for the Calgary Health Region and Jack Davis was its President and CEO. Sitting at the Cabinet table was Heather Forsyth, today a Wildrose MLA, and Guy Boutillier, a defeated Wildrose candidate.
Put that together with the fact that the Wildrose Party was created in 2008 and is made up of former Conservatives who were part of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2005.
If Smith and her colleagues are bent on “dirt digging” expeditions, it would be strongly recommended they start after 2008 so as not to indict themselves, current party members or past heroes. The Wildrose divorce from the Conservatives is recent, but the marriage has a long history, with lots of dirt. A divorce doesn’t take away either party’s responsibility for what was done during the marriage.
Even if Redford had been Premier when her sister’s expense report was signed, she would have had no direct responsibility. Her sister’s reporting relationship was so far removed from the Premier’s office that the whole exercise to connect the two becomes ludicrous.
More profound  though is the inference that a sister can be held responsible for the ethical actions of her adult sibling. Good grief, the implication of that for those of us with siblings is frightening!
Or consider what sense is there in holding accountable a new CEO for an expense report of a former employee six years before they became CEO.
Smith is not wrong in wanting politicians to get some ethics. We all want that.  But falsely demeaning a person’s character, using facts out of context and not telling the whole story is unwise for someone pining for the Premier’s chair.
Most people rate the ethics and morals of a person on how they treat others.
It is fair game to disagree, debate and intensively argue against opposing viewpoints, especially in politics.  But it is never right to attack the person, call them derogatory names, or make allegations fraught with “slight-of-hand” facts and innuendoes.  
Dirt digging expeditions play no role in effective public debate or good governance. If the Wildrose Party truly seeks to form the next government, they have to stop being the school yard bully and start acting like a government-in-waiting.

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