Alberta Politics

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.

9 replies on “Something was rotten in the former Calgary Health Region.”

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

…making a bunch of medium problems into one really big, corrupt, stinking mess.

This as much as anything else illustrates all too well the incestuous political culture in Alberta, where to get any traction with government one must of necessity support the governing party, i.e. the PCs. There is no distinction here between the government and the political party.

The expense disclosure coming into effect January 1, and retroactive to October 31, will fix all of this. To disclose party memberships and activity is unwarranted and be a Charter violation.

Jerry is right. Many government departments and agencies, provincial and municipal, had past practices of taking a portion of the taxpayers’ money and putting it into PC party coffers, presumably in the hope that this will result in the government singling them out for special treatment. Charles Rusnell, who seems to be the only investigative reporter left in the province, has singlehandedly exposed most of the universities and colleges, a group of municipalities, and now the former health regions as having misused taxpayers’ money to fund the governing party. This is likely the tip of the iceberg. Rusnell’s research also demonstrates how thin the Tories’ mass support is. In Athabasca, for example, his reports showing that my university was clumsily laundering money into PC coffers (of course, our president has now apologized for these “outreach” expenditures and promised that they will never happen again)listed all of the funders of the Athabasca PCs. There were only about 25 and virtually all of them, apart from the agents for transferring university funds to the party, were either PC appointees to the Athabasca University Board, or oil-servicing companies. The PCs win the Athabasca seat easily but not it seems because they are a mass party with lots of small funders.

So the common practices of illegally supporting political parties with government/institutional dollars, with the PC’s being the main receipiants, starts and runs rampart during the Klein years. Stelmach and now Redford try to turn this culture around – if they go to fast though they get kicked by their own party (look how willing the party was to walk away from Stelmach). If they don’t go fast enough the WR rakes them. Yet the WR hold Klein up as a hero of conservatism? We punish Redford for the actions that happen under his watch and Klein gets an Order of Canada?

Not one of them tried to turn this around! The new disclosure action just goes back to Oct 31. But the rules have not changed! Nothing new here – just noise!

Way back when- there were illegal funding cases taken to the dept of justice- never were prosecuted. Oh yes-Allison was justice minister! So now on it goes!

There are 85 plus problems now identified by the media – thank you FOIP- but elections commissioner cannot disclose them! When the last elections commissioner tried to shine some sunshine he was rewarded by not having his contract renewed and now we have someone who is much more ready to tow the line. ( Was it mentioned that he used to work for an outstanding model of ethics – the Capital Region. ). Ummm

A little sunshine please. Time does not change the crime! Allison has done nothing except mouth the usual words! She had an opportunity! It is called leadership – if she wanted to change this culture she could have!

FOIP has been swiss cheesed and hampered by the Tories. This is their undoing. They have in fact drawn more attention to the fact that their is so much to hide. Every time they dodge an investigation and refer a contentious issue to the “Un-Ethics Commissioner” or “Lack of Privacy Commissioner” or “Solicition General”…all hand picked Tories to whom the Pee See party outsources all contentious or politically damaging scandals to whitewash and cover them up….they in fact draw more and more attention to their own corruption.

If the Pee See’s had any sense whatsoever, they would start throw some of their own under the bus, or perhaps more just some, but a lot. Something like that would go a huge in way to show that JUSTICE and the LAW are working.

Its funny for Tories to claim former health regions were to blame for the troubles, but those SAME people are stil working in similar capacities. Its time, they were held criminally responsible for their reprehensible behaviors.

Stephen Harpers advocated for an expanded prison system. There is so much political corruption and criminality here, you could stuff Harper’s jail system 3x over and still not even put a dent in the AB Tory Corruption.

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