Alberta Politics

Redford Tories rack up frequent flyer miles, open new overseas offices.

Alison Redford Travel Alberta
Since Alison Redford became Premier in November 2011, cabinet ministers and backbench Tory MLAs have made trips to twenty-one different countries.

The Government of Alberta re-announced plans last week to open new trade offices in Chicago and Singapore, and yet to be announced locations in India, Brazil, and California. The Alberta Government is currently operating trade offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Munich, Mexico City, and Washington D.C.

The re-announcement opening the new offices coincided with the release of the provincial government’s International Strategy document. Reading the document, Albertans can learn how the government is “Taking a Team Alberta approach,” “Strengthening Alberta’s position on the ground” and “Promoting Alberta within the Canada Brand.” Overflowing with buzzwords and jargon, the document reads as if it came fresh off the desk of some high-paid consultant.

Since Alison Redford became Premier in November 2011, cabinet ministers and backbench Tory MLAs have made trips to twenty-one different countries. During that time, cabinet ministers and Tory MLAs have made fourteen trips to Washington D.C., highlighting the importance that the current government is placing on its relationship with the United States and the construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.

Trips to more than a dozen countries in Asia, including twelve trips to Hong Kong (now home to Alberta’s appointed representative and former Tory leadership candidate Gary Mar), also show the importance the government is placing on trade expansion to Asia. Currently, Finance Minister Doug Horner is traveling through China and Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson is visiting Kazakhstan.

The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson suggested in a recent column that public funds might be well used by opening up a trade office in Victoria, B.C. to convince newly re-elected Premier Christy Clark to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Here is the updated map showing international travel by Alberta Government cabinet ministers and Tory MLAs since November 2011 (click map to see locations and dates):

View Alberta Cabinet Minister and MLA Travel November 2011-June 2013 in a larger map

‘Building Markets’ and ‘Building Alberta’

Building Markets” and “Building Alberta.” are two slogans that anyone who has read a recent government press releases or listened to recent ministerial speeches will be familiar with. The key words were spoken by government ministers more than 70 times in the recent sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Are regular Albertans noticing? On Twitter, almost the only tweets that include the #buildingmarkets and #buildingalberta hashtags are coming from accounts belonging to Tory MLAs or their paid employees.

15 replies on “Redford Tories rack up frequent flyer miles, open new overseas offices.”

Trade is a federal jurisdiction. Any money that a province spends on opening up trade offices is wasted money, mostly meant to create jobs for the party hacks.

College programs cancelled, nurses are being laid off and school boards are strapped for cash. Yet the Redford PC’s are opening offices over seas?

Which retired Tory hacks will get the high-paid jobs at the over seas offices? Regular Albertans need not apply.

Alvin Finkel: There are ten Alberta Government international offices. Who are the “party hacks” staffing these ten offices?

Thank you Neal. Gary Mar is a former Government of Alberta cabinet minister, and himself led the Washington office for IIR, prior to the Hong Kong office. He knows the critical energy, agriculture, tech and financial files inside and out, current political issues and considerations in Canada and all the industry and NGO players. But he’s your only example of someone sent to one of our international offices as a reward for being a “party hack.” May I suggest that the claim that international offices are set up “mostly to create jobs for the party hacks” appears to lack any available evidence.
Aside from its demonstrable lack of truth, there is the fact that you are in essence insulting at least ten individual men and women – my colleagues at IIR – who lead these offices.
Maybe all things are fair in politics, but my colleagues are not politicians. They are civil servants, whose jobs were achieved on their merits and skills.

Keep in mind people, David Sands is literally paid to sit there and defend this crap. He’s not some independent voice trying to provide balance, his actual job is to sit and force Alison Redford’s world view at you. You wouldn’t know it because he never signs things as such, but that is the case.

As far as those office jobs being achieved on merit, that’s laughable. I know several civil servants, none of whom have seen postings for those international offices come up, internally or externally. These things are staffed by handpicked individuals. Since that provides for zero transparency, of course we’re all left to assume these staff are party hacks. Like Gary Mar.

Neal, openings at Alberta’s international offices can be filled by locally engaged staff, or from Alberta’s current public service, or from outside hires. Here’s where people look:

And Neal, I’d bet you couldn’t name more than two International Office staff members without Google, but you’re willing to call them “party hacks” without a thought as to who they actually are.

Annnnd, Neal, I *am* paid to sit here and answer questions about IIR, which I am happy to do until the questions become accusations with demonstrably no basis, at which point I am also perfectly happy to earn my money calling you out on that — which is what I’m doing right now.


For the record, without Googling it, I can only name Gary Mar (in Hong Kong) and David Manning (in Washington DC) as Alberta’s reps abroad. Those seem to be the two most high-profile (and sensitive) posts.

Thanks for the comments.


Tories are sharp investors indeed. They cut post secondary education 7.5% as Canada sinks further into the bottom rung on research and technology. Meanwhile our Government elected members see the world First class at Government expense. No cause to clamp down of Alberta’s flying circus as entertainment creates jobs as well

No objection to trade offices – funded and staffed by the Federal Govt under whose jurisdiction international trade lies! Having said that, many are in some pretty nice climates! And why California – maybe a power deal so we have some legit reason for running those big power lines south?
But having had some experience with international trade, the federal offices overseas are pretty good. They have a good feel for the culture and society they operate in. I have seen some disasters when the “locals” show up! So let us leave trade to the jurisdiction it should be in. If the Minister of Intergovernmental affairs wants to carry a message, let them go to Ottawa and sit down with the appropriate people in the Dept there.
Such a waste of money! But methinks this Premier is not working for AB but rather attempting to increase her profile abroad. There perhaps is life after Alberta.
No basis for opinion other than careful observation!

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