We Need To Talk About Alison Redford (And Getting More Moms In Politics)
As Mother’s Day approaches, I can’t stop thinking about Alison Redford.
Alberta’s former premier got kicked to the curb after spending controversies that included $3,100 on trips where she brought along her daughter Sarah. Redford also let Sarah bring a friend so she wasn’t lonesome when her mom had official business.
But Redford -- Alberta’s first female premier -- deserves kudos as she continues to take her lumps.
When critics and taxpayers questioned the Progressive Conservative leader about taking Sarah on trips, she showed balls of steel.
“I’m the premier of Alberta, but I’m also the mother to a daughter who I love to spend time with,” she said. “I think many mothers can relate to that, and I don’t always get to do that.”
Redford noted that “upon reflection” taxpayers shouldn’t pay for her daughter’s friend’s travel, but government needs to evolve. She also said she’d pay back the $3,100.
“And I’ll tell you, quite frankly, one of the evolutions in this province is that you have a premier who has a 12-year-old daughter.”
Forget Gwyneth Paltrow’s nonsense that it’s harder to be an actress than a 9-5 mom: “I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as [tough], of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”
It was exciting that a Canadian female politician was addressing the struggle of working moms: If a woman of wealth and power struggles for balance, a middle-class mom is vindicated.
“Nice to have the chance for quiet lunch out with Glen and Sarah,” Redford tweeted about her husband and daughter on Family Day.
We’ll never get to see if Redford could have paved an easier path for mothers to get into politics (and other jobs traditionally dominated by men). She resigned the premier’s job last month and she’s still a Calgary MLA but there are new questions about her spending.
Albertans were ticked she billed taxpayers $45,000 to go to the funeral of former South African leader Nelson Mandela.
But the $3,100 cost of flying Redford’s daughter Sarah and friends around on a few trips ruffled just as many feathers.
There are 4,082,600 people in Alberta.
That $3,100 tab cost each Albertan less than a penny.
It wouldn’t have mattered if the trip had cost $3 or $30,000. Albertans took issue that Redford seemed to feel entitled to be with her daughter.
Mom bullying exploded on our online newspaper comment sections:
• “If I go away on business my employer doesn’t pay for my kids or wife to come with me … That is a personal expense and if she doesn’t like it she should quit so she can spend time with her kid. The woman is deranged.”
• “You didn’t think about spending time with your daughter when you went into politics? Wah Wah!! You made your bed, so lie in it!”
• “If you want to be premier then be premier. If you want to be a mom then be a mom.”
We whipped ourselves into such a tizzy over Redford’s spending that a national conversation about the evolving job of the working mother never had a chance. And we still need to have that conversation.