04/23/2013 01:07 EDT | Updated 06/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Alison Redford First Year In Office One Of Betrayal, Broken Promises: Critics


EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford's Tories marked the anniversary of their 2012 election victory on Tuesday as opposition critics labelled it a year marred by broken promises and betrayal.

Liberal house leader Laurie Blakeman said part of her had actually wanted to see Redford soar.

"I wanted her to do well. I didn't want her to win like that (a strong majority), but I wanted the first woman premier of Alberta to be amazing," said Blakeman.

"What I got is destruction. It's not what I was expecting to get. Betrayal is what we got."

On April 23, 2012, Redford led the Progressive Conservatives to a 61-seat majority. The Opposition Wildrose won 17 ridings, while the Liberals took five and the NDP four.

It was the first popular mandate in Alberta for a female premier and the 12th consecutive majority for the Tories, dating back to 1971. Redford fended off a challenge from the Wildrose, a fellow right-centre party that stresses balanced budgets and less government.

The NDP and Liberals say that in the year since her victory, Redford has backtracked on spending promises for, among other things, health care, education and full-day kindergarten.

The Wildrose says Redford, after promising a balanced budget and no debt, delivered a deficit budget on March 7 that plans for $17 billion in debt over the next four years for infrastructure spending.

A promise to reinvest in post-secondary education became a seven per cent cut to operating grants for schools.

Redford has said lower-than-expected oil prices forced her government to scale back spending, but she added that the province needs to take on debt because 100,000 newcomers arrive each year and need schools, hospitals and roads.

Polls this month suggest her popularity has fallen, raising speculation her job could be in jeopardy when party members meet in November for a mandatory leadership review.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said Redford and her team have only themselves to blame.

"They promised a progressive budget. They promised a progressive government. That meant meeting more social needs," said Mason.

"What they have done is cut instead and gone backwards.

"Fundamentally, the error they made is refusing to put the province's finances on a firmer footing before proceeding in government."

The NDP gave Redford a failing grade in its "report card" on her first year.

"She repeatedly makes commitments to others that she doesn't intend to keep," wrote the NDP. "Alison needs to work harder at being honest with others."

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said Redford's win came as progressives abandoned centrist alternatives and voted Tory to keep the Wildrose out.

"(Voters) thought there was going to be a hard-right government coming in and they didn't want that," said Sherman.

The irony, he said, is that under Redford they got one anyway.

Both Sherman and Mason said there are a lot of undecided progressives who are looking to park their vote somewhere else.

The race is on, suggested Mason.

"The PC government can't be trusted and I think they're going to wear that through the next election.

"What we need to do now is move forward and appeal to the progressive voters who have become disillusioned with Alison Redford and show them that the NDP can in fact deliver and be a contender for government in this province."

Redford has reminded critics that the plan to bolster savings, build infrastructure and get the day-to-day budget back in balance is a long-term plan that can't be judged in one year .

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said Redford has problems that won't wait.

"The chickens are coming home to roost," said Smith.

"She is breaking almost every single election promise she made, alienating the progressives who became last-minute conservatives to vote for her, and alienating longtime conservatives with the $5.5-billion deficit that she'll be running next year.

"When you see that kind of decline in trust and credibility it's very hard to gain it back."

Redford, in a note to party faithful Tuesday, said: "I have never been so proud to be a Progressive Conservative — reflecting the mainstream conservative values that so many Albertans share.

"Today, a year later, I have to say how proud I am of my caucus and our party, and all that we’ve accomplished together."

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