Hubris: Nemesis is never far behind

The latest news on the Premier who would be Queen is a doozy.

Carolyn Grant

hu·bris

noun

1. excessive pride or self-confidence.

synonyms:

arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance,egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority; (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

And perhaps the dictionary needs to add something to this definition — see, Redford, Alison.

Yes, Alison Redford, erstwhile Premier of Alberta is the gift that keeps on giving.

The latest news on the Premier who would be Queen is a doozy.

It seems that Lady Redford travelled a lot while Premier. In her scant 20 months in office, she visited China, India, Switzerland, London and Washington, among other exotic locales. I’m sure every trip was important to advancing Alberta’s position among trading partners. We all know of the long and storied Alberta-Switzerland trade alliance. Excuse me, I have to go pick up my eyeballs, which are rolling across the floor of my office.

In any event, Redford travelled. We already know she travelled with phantom passengers in order to keep a number of seats empty around her so she wouldn’t have to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi.

But paying for empty seats wasn’t enough for the taxpayers of Alberta. The taxpayers also paid for a newly created position in the Redford regime — that of ‘travel scout’.

What, you may ask, does a travel scout do? Well, she travels. Ahead of the Premier. The Canadian Press reports that Redford’s travel scout, one Michelle Tetreault, would visit the cities that Her Highness was scheduled to visit weeks or months ahead of time. She would report back on suitable restaurants (including those which served Alberta beef), sunny patios, local customs, good places to pick up souvenirs, weather (as in whether the First Lady of Alberta would require a light jacket) and so on.

This was important information. The Premier needed to know these things and how else would she find them out? There go my eyeballs again.

Now seeing as La Redford appears to be a throwback to a simpler time when the upper echelons did as they pleased on the backs of the great unwashed, she can perhaps be forgiven for using a high-paid public servant to do in person what any semi-aware person can do with a computer…

No. No, I simply can’t buy that the Premier of Alberta had never heard of the internet. She had to have heard of it. She was just above it. “The internet is the way common folk source information. I shall have a travel scout and I will call her Michelle. Make it so.”

Oh and how much did Tetreault receive in compensation for her job? Canadian Press says $127, 827. Yup. $127,827 per annum to travel the globe sourcing out the best public washrooms. That’s nice work if you can get it.

Tetreault’s expenses totalled almost $330,000 from spring 2012 to January 2014.

Canadian Press also reported on an email exchange with Redford’s assistant in which the question of an embassy staffer being in the vehicle with the Premier was discussed.

Redford did not want such a person in the vehicle with her. It was eventually decided that the embassy employee would be in the vehicle but would be requested not to speak to the Premier (!) Oh well, I guess I can do without my eyeballs.

But let us not blame poor Michelle Tetreault. She was, and is, a public servant, and as such does what her boss (the Queen) told her to do. When the Queen says “go forth and scope out bathrooms in India”, the public servant does it.

The astounding thing about this whole Redford thing is that she thought she could get away with it. You don’t get to be Premier of a Canadian province without having some smarts. So how can you be smart enough to be Premier and still think that no one will notice egregious misuse of taxpayer dollars? In this time of texting and emails such details are only a Freedom of Information request away.

Yet Queen Redford, high in her lofty perch of power, thought such things her due, and no one would dare question her.

That’s hubris folks. And the gods have smited her.

Carolyn Grant is the Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin