While the release of this information on a Friday, is clearly an attempt by the Progressive Conservative (PC) party to distance itself from its former leader, it should be apparent that there were more politicians within the governing party that had to know about these projects.
CBC News reports that Redford personally ordered a premier`s penthouse suite in a federal building, owned by the province. The broadcasting corporation further reports that it obtained a report under the freedom of information act that shows Redford’s executive assistant, Ryan Barberio, personally ordered changes to the building’s floor plan by direct contact with the architecture firm in charge of refurbishing the Federal Building.
One document, dated Dec. 4, 2012, details the directions given to the architect for the penthouse suite. The architect, Barbara Shipman, acknowledges she has been requested to “design the 11th floor space suitable for Senior Government and VIP functions.”
The design includes a guest hosting and lounge area, seated formal dining for up to 12 people, a private study and work space for two people including “focused computer work, and a relaxed, social space for entertaining, watching TV and a library area.”
The design also specifies “sleeping and grooming quarters with clothing storage for an adult and one teenager (separate is preferable).” Redford has a young daughter.
The Globe and Mail reports that the model for penthouse suite as to be the luxurious Hay-Adams hotel in Washington, D.C. A visit to Quebec City may have spurred Redford`s appetite and desire for a penthouse suit. A former Redford chief of staff, Stephen Carter, said that she was impressed by meetings and a dinner held at the “spectacular” Quebec premier’s residence in January, 2012, when Jean Charest hosted an Alberta delegation.
Redford resigned after the revelation that her South Africa trip had cost the taxpayer $45,000. She reimbursed the province four weeks later, but many, including members of her caucus, did not think the apology and payback were sincere. Internal discontent cause her resignation.
Severance and vacation packages for her staff amounted to $1.3 million for nine Redford staffers, according to document released by the province. A small sampling is listed below:
Farouk Adatia, Redford’s former chief of staff, received $366,878 in severance and an additional $39,916 in vacation payments.
Stefan Baranski, Redfords communications director received $140,000 in severance and vacation payments.
Former Conservative MP Lee Richardson, principal secretary to Redford, received $231,808, plus an additional $32,593.
The spending culture runs deeper than the premier
The PC party is naturally attempting to distance itself from the former premier. Unfortunately the problem and culture runs much deeper than Redford. Her inner circle and cabinet ministers should have or must have known about the plans for the penthouse and her outrageous travel expenditures. Instead they kept the penthouse plans secret and now claim that the project was killed. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Doug Horner, who facilitated Redford`s leadership election, the infrastructure minister and others within her cabinet should have had knowledge.
If the party truly wants to renew itself, there needs to be a wholesale sweep within the party and those former ministers need to resign. Instead some are considering a run for the leadership of the party. The party has created a culture over four decades of governing Alberta that is no longer tenable. Without a total renewal and a change of the cast of characters a renewal is no longer possible.
For the party to reinvent itself it needs to rid itself of the cast of characters.