Former Alberta premier Alison Redford may be missing from legislature, but has turned up in Palm Springs.
The now-MLA has been absent for 10 days of sittings in the current legislative session, but was spotted riding bikes and dining out around the California town this past week.
Sasa Kovacevic, an Edmonton resident vacationing in Palm Springs, told the Calgary Herald he spotted Redford Easter Monday, while dining at Lulu California Bistro.
“She was dressed very casually. It was quite warm, so you know, just like a nice light dress. She seemed OK, hanging out, relaxing I guess,” he said.
“I think she realized I knew who she was. We exchanged a couple glances, but after, she wouldn’t make eye contact with me.”
Employees of the restuarant confirmed to CTV News that they had a reservation under the name Alison Redford at 11:30 a.m. on April 20.
Albertan Kurt Bowley also spotted Redford, and posted a picture to his Facebook page late Friday showing the former premier and her daughter eating at another Palm Springs restaurant.
The sightings come just days after Redford's office notified the legislature speaker that her reason for being absent is legitimate.
Redford's staff told the speaker her absence falls under rules that exempt MLAs from being docked pay if their lack of attendance is due to illness or injury, bereavement, or business outside the legislature.
Redford hasn’t attended the legislature since she resigned her post as premier last month, after her travel expenses and use of government planes came under question.
Former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk called on Redford to return to work last week, suggesting that barring illness or injury, she should resume her duties as MLA.
“If there is a serious health situation, then I imagine my constituents would understand, but in the absence of that, there is a clear expectation that we show up to work and perform the duties that we’re elected to perform," he said.
Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson agreed, telling the Calgary Herald that while Redford has the right to vacation, it's time to do the job she's paid to do.
“Just because you’ve been knocked down a peg doesn’t mean you don’t show up,” Anderson said Saturday.
“Given everything that’s happened, she should either come home and work in her constituency, particularly when the house is in session, or it’s time to hang ‘em up because this is not being respectful.”
However, current premier, Dave Hancock, said it's not the place for others to interfere in Redford's private affairs.
“It’s not really for one MLA to tell another MLA how to do their job. When it comes to the session, it's between and MLA and the speaker,” he told media on Friday.
Speaker Gene Zwozdesky could not be reached for comment, but his assistant told the National Post the process is based on the honour system.
“These are honourable members and the Speaker would receive the notification and he would take the member at their word, obviously,” said Bev Alenius.
Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason defended Redford, saying she deserves a bit of a break.
“Despite everything that happened – and I think that (Redford) really abused the taxpayers’ trust – she still went through a terrible time, and her daughter as well,” Mason told the Edmonton Sun.
“If she’s not back in the fall session, it’s two years (before the next) election, that’s too long to stay away and collect a pay cheque.”
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