Something was rotten in the former Calgary Health Region.

Tory Party Calgary Health Region Fundraising

A PC Party fundraiser mourns the loss of the Calgary Health Region.

Intrepid CBC investigative journalist Charles Rusnell has uncovered another swath of illegal political donations made to Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party:

Lynn Redford, sister of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, attended Progressive Conservative party events at public expense and helped organize an annual Tory barbeque while she was a senior executive at the Calgary Health Region.

Expense-claim records, obtained by CBC News through Freedom of Information, show Redford attended a Conservative party annual general meeting in Edmonton, and several fundraisers, including premier’s dinners and a golf tournament fundraiser for Tory MLA Dave Coutts.

The documents show she attended these functions, all, or in part, at the health region’s expense, claiming fundraiser tickets, travel costs, mileage, hotel rooms and even more than $200 for liquor for a Tory barbeque.

Redford also expensed a breakfast with her sister Alison, a couple months after she was first elected in 2008.

Under Alberta law, it is illegal for publicly-funded institutions, including the Calgary Health Region, to make political donations.

As I wrote on August 23 2012, for many years, the Calgary Health Region benefited from political proximity to both Premier Ralph Klein, and former Provincial Treasurer Jim Dinning, who later served as chairman of the health region’s board of directors. Numerous political archetypes with close connections to the PC Party were appointed by the government to serve on the health authority’s board of directors.

This summer, following the implementation of an audit to investigate allegations of misspending by an executive of the former Capital Health Region, the government and Alberta Health Services initially resisted expanding an audit to other former regional health authorities.

Limiting the investigation to the former Edmonton health executives fuelled speculation that executives of the former Calgary Health Region, now comfortably occupying senior positions at AHS, were campaigning to discredit the work done by executives of Edmonton’s former Capital Health Region.

Following the expense claims controversy, current AHS President and CEO Chris Eagle, a former Calgary Health Region executive, reimbursed the provincial health authority for expenses including airfare and liquor.

It is suspected that the creation of the provincial health superboard was a reaction to the political brazenness of former Calgary Health Region CEO and Klein-loyalist Jack Davis. As the Calgary Health Region recorded a $85 million deficit, Mr. Davis went public to get more money from Premier Ed Stelmach’s government before the 2008 election, which threatened to make it an campaign issue.

Soon after the Tories were re-elected in 2008, the remaining regional health authorities were dissolved and Alberta Health Services was created.

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