Former premier Alison Redford appointed to Alberta Crown corporation board

Other appointments made Thursday via orders-in-council include a longtime Conservative MP and former UCP press secretary

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Alberta’s 14th premier, an ex-Conservative MP, and the former executive director of the United Conservative Party (UCP) caucus were among the government appointments announced via orders-in-council late Thursday.

Former premier Alison Redford was named to the board of directors of the Invest Alberta Corporation, a provincial Crown corporation that promotes the province as an investment destination.

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Redford’s term in the role is set to expire Jan. 30, 2027, and comes with a $10,000 annual retainer and $300 compensation for each meeting attended as well as provisions for travel and meal expenses.

Redford, 59, won the Progressive Conservative leadership race of 2011 to succeed the outgoing Ed Stelmach as premier and served in the role until 2014 after defeating Danielle Smith and her Wildrose Party in the 2012 election.

Redford resigned as premier in March of 2014 following scandals involving the improper use of government aircraft, travel and staff expenses, and plans to construct the so-called “sky palace” atop the structure now named the QEII building.

In a statement, the office of Premier Smith hailed Redford’s experience as well as her prior academic and government advisory work.

“With her dedicated service to this province, extensive background in law and proven success in strategic advisory roles, Ms. Redford’s perspectives and expertise will be a valuable addition to the board and to the agency’s ongoing work to attract job-creating investments from around the world.”

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Former Yellowhead MP Rob Merrifield was also among the appointments announced Thursday.

He was named as a public member to the council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the organization that regulates physicians and is responsible for overseeing the practice of medicine in the province.

Merrifield, 70, served as a Conservative MP between 2000 and 2014 when he left the job after being appointed by then-Alberta premier Jim Prentice as Alberta’s envoy to the United States.

He was the party’s health critic in 2004 when he faced backlash for suggesting women should seek third-party counselling before having an abortion. The comments forced party leader Stephen Harper to clarify that he had no plans to change the country’s laws around terminating pregnancies.

The office for Health Minister Adriana LaGrange issued a statement to Postmedia defending the appointment, citing Merrifield’s past public service and health governance work, including nearly two decades on two hospital boards.

“The CPSA, and our entire health-care system will benefit from having his experience on their board.”

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And, former ministry of labour and immigration press secretary Brittany Baltimore was named to the board of governors of MacEwan University.

Baltimore worked in that role over parts of 2019 and 2020 before going to serve as the executive director and deputy director of UCP caucus.

The MacEwan board has 16 members, according to its website, who are not directly paid for their role as governors.

In a statement, Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney’s office cited Baltimore’s leadership and experience in the public and private sector.

“Her experience in building and maintaining relationships with government bodies and various stakeholders will be valuable for a university board, which often needs to navigate complex relationships with government entities, donors, and the community.”

‘Toryland cronyism’: Opposition

Opposition justice critic Irfan Sabir said the appointments demonstrated what he described as “Toryland cronyism.”

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“The UCP are intent on handing these roles to their friends and insiders, be these independent offices of the legislature or board positions, or public contracts, so they can grab more unfettered control and power,” he said.

“Danielle Smith’s UCP is adding new carts to its gravy train every opportunity they get and it’s rolling full steam ahead.”

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