Alberta Politics

Cancelled: Alison Redford’s expensive Afghanistan photo-op

Alison Redford Alberta Kabul Afghanistan
Premier Alison Redford cancelled a secretly planned trip to Kabul, Afghanistan this week.

Albertans discovered this week that Premier Alison Redford cancelled a secretly planned trip to war-torn Afghanistan after suicide bomber blew herself up in a Kabul restaurant , killing twenty-one people, including two Canadians.

Ms. Redford was leading a trade mission through India last week and had secretly planned to stop in the Afghan capital before jetting off to a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The secrecy of the trip is understandable. Afghanistan is a dangerous place and Ms. Redford and her entourage could have become an appealing target for an attack.

But what business does an Alberta premier have travelling to a dangerous country like Afghanistan?

The official reasons for the trip reportedly released by Ms. Redford’s office were to pay a visit Canadian Forces stationed in Kabul and observe humanitarian projects that the Alberta government is supporting in the country.

It is hard not to see this side-trip as anything more than an expensive publicity stunt for a provincial politician who loves to be seen on international stage. If the trip hadn’t been cancelled, photos of the premier with the troops and with humanitarian workers would have been prominently featured all over the government website, Ms. Redford’s Facebook page and in future Progressive Conservative Party election ads.

It is unusual for a provincial leader to make this kind of appearance and it adds to the growing feeling that Ms. Redford is more comfortable playing prime minister than she is actually being the premier.

It is unclear how much the trip to Afghanistan would have cost Albertans. Considering the risks associated with such a trip, the security costs may not have been insignificant.

She may hold aspirations to soon return to the international stage (she used to work for the United Nations), but as a provincial premier, Ms. Redford has no business visiting Afghanistan.