EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Alison Redford is facing more criticism from within her party ahead of a weekend meeting of Tory executives.
The president of a Progressive Conservative riding association in northeast Edmonton said Friday that Redford has to resign or the party will lose the next election.
Steve Robson, who heads the Tory association in the NDP-held seat of Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, said Redford is an “arrogant” leader who doesn’t listen to her caucus and has no regard for the Tory establishment.
“Alison’s group doesn’t care about the people who got the party to where it is in the first place, at all,” he said. “I would like the PC party to be in power after the next election … I don’t think the PCs will with her in power.”
Redford told Global Edmonton that Robson is entitled to his opinion.
“There’s a lot of people in the party who are longtime volunteers and there’s been a lot of discussion about a lot of things in the last little while,” she told Global at the Calgary Convention Centre.
“I’ve certainly listened to Albertans; I’ve certainly made the best possible decisions that I can. (I’m) very confident with respect to party volunteers and party supporters. We don’t always agree in our party. I respect that.”
Redford has been under fire for taking a $45,000 taxpayer-funded trip to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa.
She resisted calls to pay back the money for weeks, then cut a cheque Wednesday for the expenses.
Robson said Redford’s handling of the controversy has shown “arrogant, stupid behaviour.”
Robson said the payback was too little too late and she’s already done too much damage to the party.
On Thursday, Calgary backbencher Len Webber quit the Tory party to sit as an Independent. He claimed Redford was a bully prone to fits of rage.
Redford had no reaction to Webber’s comments, but cabinet ministers rushed to Redford’s defence.
Deputy premier Dave Hancock called Webber a “sad man” who was disgruntled about not being in cabinet.
Meanwhile, a Tory MLA who jumped to Redford’s defence on Friday ended up in some controversy herself.
Sandra Jansen, the minister responsible for the government’s anti-bullying initiatives, was appearing on CTV’s Powerplay program to talk about the week’s events when she suggested that if Webber had a problem “with what he perceived as bullying,” he should go back to his previous profession of being an electrician.
That prompted a flurry of criticism on social media and Jansen quickly issued a mea culpa on Twitter: “With apologies to all my friends in the electrical trades…love you. Appreciate your support. My comments were directed at one individual.”
Redford received 77 per cent support in her leadership review last fall. On Saturday, members of the Progressive Conservative executive will hold their regular meeting in Calgary.
Robson said he hopes the executive holds Redford’s feet to the fire.
“I think she has done way too much damage to keep her at the helm.”