Canadian • Alberta Premier Alison Redford To Attend Bilderberg Conf.
On a mission to shore up Alberta’s position on the domestic and international scene, Premier Alison Redford took heat Wednesday for her decision to waive a meeting with national NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, flying instead to an exclusive economic think-tank.
Deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk was set to meet with the oilsands’ noisiest opponent during Thursday’s visit as Redford heads to the Bilderberg Conference — an invite-only annual meeting of movers and shakers in international economics.
No media coverage is allowed of the elite event in Chantilly, Va., which Redford and a staffer will attend on the taxpayers’ dime at a cost of $19,000.
"I think most people who have a sophisticated approach to world affairs understand that there’s lots of meetings that happen all over the world," Redford said, adding that she expects to be able to talk about the people she met and what was discussed when she returns.
She says her presence will bring business to Alberta.
"My job as a premier is to travel the country and to travel the world talking about our issues and (it’s) an opportunity to do that," she said.
Official Opposition leader Danielle Smith said Redford will miss a golden opportunity to stand up for the oilsands against Mulcair, the self-appointed "bully on the block."
"What is Alberta getting out of this?" Smith asked, adding that Redford’s "networking" benefits her own future and should be paid out of her own pocket.
In rebuttal, Redford quoted Smith in 2009 as saying the premier should deal with U.S. decision-makers, and said Smith could either make political hay of the event or accept that the premier’s job is to represent Alberta around the world.
The annual Bildenberg Conference, formed in 1954 to foster economic links and understanding between North America and Western Europe, comes at a time when Alberta’s oilsands are being blamed by Liberal Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Mulcair for a robust Canadian buck and so-called "Dutch Disease," an economic syndrome that links manufacturing woes to energy sector booms.
Additionally, Alberta’s oilsands product has been summarily downgraded by the European Union, a move that irritated federal Energy Minister Joe Oliver on a recent Alberta visit.
Opposition scorn is heaped atop criticism for Redford’s move to open an Alberta office in Ottawa, expected to cost the province $850,000 a year.
In the latest gesture of garnering national resources, Redford appointed Lee Richardson her principal secretary.
The Calgary-Centre MP since 1988 has also held posts in the Diefenbaker and Mulroney governments, and recently served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chair of the standing committee on international trade.
Alberta New Democrat Leader Brian Mason distanced himself a bit from Mulcair, saying the pair agree on lax provincial and federal environmental stewardship but differ on perspective — and on "Dutch Disease."
"You don’t help one part of the country by limiting the opportunities of another part of the country," he said, adding that he’s hoping fiery arrows between Mulcair and western defenders gets "more civil, more rational, less emotional."
"I think the role of our oilsands is very, very important in this country," Mason said, adding that he sees a closer relationship between the Redford government and the increasingly popular Mulcair as possible.
"Harper and the Conservatives worked very hard to defeat Alison Redford and the Progressive Conservatives in this last election," he said.
"Harper and the federal Conservatives worked very hard to elect the Wildrose last election — they sent people, they worked hard to defeat the PCs … they worked on campaigns for the Wildrose.
"This place was flooded with Ottawa staffers… They worked hard and so did a number of MPs in Alberta work very hard. Why do you think (Redford’s) opening an office in Ottawa?" Mason asked.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu May 31, 2012 6:01 am
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