The Honourable Alison M. Redford, QC, 2011-2014
The Honourable Alison M. Redford, QC was sworn in as Alberta's 14th Premier on October 7, 2011 after successfully contesting a Progressive Conservative Party leadership race. Alison Redford became the first woman Premier of Alberta and the seventh woman in Canadian history to become the leader of a province or territory.
Alison Merrilla Redford was born on March 7, 1965 in Kitimat, British Columbia. Her maternal grandparents emigrated from Scotland to Canada after the Second World War. Her mother Helen married Merrill Redford from Turner Valley. The couple had moved to Kitimat so he could complete his apprenticeship as an electrician. The Redford family (later including two more daughters) moved as Merrill worked on oil rigs around the world including Nova Scotia, Borneo and Malaysia. The family returned to Calgary, Alberta when Alison was in her early teens.
Inspired by Premier Peter Lougheed, Redford became active in political life at a young age. While still in high school, she was elected President of the Progressive Conservative Youth of Alberta in 1983.
Redford completed her law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1988. Subsequently, she articled for the firm Rooney Prentice and served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Right Honourable Joe Clark, Secretary of State for External Affairs and in the Prime Minister's Office from 1988 to 1990.
Redford spent much of the next 15 years working as a technical advisor on constitutional and legal reform for the European Union, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Canadian and Australian governments. She provided technical support to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa and coordinated the Northern Transvaal Election Observer Mission during the first fully democratic South African national elections in 1994.
On January 27, 2005, as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Redford was appointed one of four International Election Commissioners by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. In that capacity, she helped to administer Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections.
From 2005 to 2008, Redford served as an advisor to the Privy Council Office of Canada. She provided guidance on Canada's future involvement with Afghanistan as well as taking assignments around the world including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the Philippines.
In 2008, she was working as a lawyer with Agriteam Canada. She was managing a judicial training and legal reform project for federal Minister of Justice and the Supreme People's Court in Vietnam.
In 2004, Redford had unsuccessfully contested the Conservative nomination for the federal riding of Calgary-West. In 2008, she moved to the provincial level and secured the nomination for the constituency of Calgary-Elbow.
On March 3, 2008, Redford was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Elbow. Just over a week later, she was sworn in as Minister of Justice and Attorney General and therefore also served as Provincial Secretary. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, she led the Safe Communities Initiative which was established at the end of 2007 to address the root causes of crime and focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement. In January 2010, she was named Political Minister for Calgary. After consulting with Albertans through the 2009 Alberta Gang Crime Summit, she and Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security Frank Oberle jointly unveiled the Alberta Gang Reduction Strategy on December 6, 2010.
On February 16, 2011, Redford resigned her portfolio in order to enter the leadership race of the Progressive Conservative party. At the end of January, Premier Ed Stelmach had announced his intention to step down upon the election of a new leader and on October 1, 2011, on the second ballot, Redford emerged as that new leader.
Redford was sworn in as Alberta's first woman Premier on October 7, 2011 in the Legislature rotunda. On April 23, 2012, Redford led the Progressive Conservatives to a successive majority government securing 61 of 87 seats.
As Premier, Redford was committed to transparency and accountability and, in May 2012, she established the position of Associate Minister-Accountability, Transparency and Transformation. Whistleblower legislation and a review of freedom of information and the protection of privacy followed. Social media was fully utilized to communicate with Albertans. In December 2011, Alberta became the 10th jurisdiction in Canada to have fixed election dates as the Election Amendment Act, 2011 came into force. The initiatives of open government and open data were pushed with the Alberta Open Data Portal becoming a reality in May 2013. Commencing with the last quarter of the fiscal year 2012-2013, expense disclosure reports of Members were posted. At the end of January 2014, a “sunshine list” of government employees with compensation of over $100,000 in the previous two calendar years was made public.
Redford promoted the oil sands internationally as she worked to secure US government approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline and spoke of the environmental safeguards in place. On November 14, 2011, she became the first Alberta Premier to meet with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
In the summer of 2013, unprecedented floods occurred in Calgary and High River due to torrential rain. Reportedly the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history, within days of the tragedy, three Associate Ministers were appointed to facilitate the recovery and rebuilding of the areas affected.
Following questions surrounding her travel expenditures and subsequent signs of a division among government Members, on March 19, 2014, Alison Redford announced that she was resigning as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and as Premier effective March 23, 2014. Redford resigned as the Member for Calgary-Elbow effective August 6, 2014.
Active with many community boards and organizations over the years, Redford served as Alberta Centennial Ambassador in 2005 and was a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal that same year. She was appointed Queen's Counsel on April 15, 2008. In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and was named Honorary Chair of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.