- Written by Duane Bratt Duane Bratt
- Published: 23 March 2014 23 March 2014
Mount Royal professor describes where our former Premier went wrong
Alberta Premier Alison Redford resigned on March 19, 2014 less than two years after winning a majority government in the 2012 provincial election. Her resignation came after almost a month of constant bad news that included a caucus and party revolt, an ongoing expense scandal over the costs of her trip to South Africa to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral in Nov. 2013, and worsening poll numbers.
While the events of the last month are fascinating, the roots of Redford's downfall can be traced to three long term trends.
First, Redford won the Progressive Conservative leadership in Oct. 2011 with very little support incaucus. Instead, she won by recruiting "two-minute Tories" from groups (teachers, public sector union members, nurses, etc) that did not really belong to the party. This meant that Redford, from day one, was leader of a caucus that never really accepted her as leader.
Second, Redford won the 2012 election by cobbling together a new centrist/progressive coalition of voters by appealing to the same groups that helped her win the leadership. However, this coalition was systematically destroyed by both the 2013 budget which made cuts to education (both K to 12 and post-secondary) and legislation which attacked the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.
The final factor in Redford's downfall was her "culture of entitlement." This crystallized in the South Africa expenses, but also included using government planes for private trips, staying in the largest suites in the most expensive hotels, a high paid staff, and a large security detail.
In sum, the bizarre events of the past month were the immediate cause of Redford's downfall, but the longer-term causes go back to the day that she won the PC leadership in Oct. 2011.
Dr. Duane Bratt is the chair and professor in the policy studies department at Mount Royal University, and is a regular political commentator in media outlets across the province.