Redford’s Transparency Prom
The manifests had been there for years.
Details of every flight, all the way back to 2010. Names. Dates. Passengers. All of it waiting for someone – anyone – to put the story together. The same can be said of the expense reports – and the lack of expense reports – posted to the Office of the Premier, which were instead dispersed amongst several ministries in cabinet. Trips with a cost exceeding the dollar amount many voters make in a year. Five star dinners with unnamed persons during those days when a mayor was up to his mile wide smile in flood waters, and the leader of the official opposition was rescuing lost cat memes in the mud of High River; both of them eating emergency relief egg salad sandwiches while their hallowed leader dined on rack of lamb and bad decisions. Taxpayer funded flights to partisan fundraisers. The government air fleet turned into the Premier’s family SUV. Flagrant abuse of government resources. All of it sitting there begging to be noticed, to be brought up in Question Period, or at the least to be the subject of a hard hitting investigative report.
Like a lonely wallflower at the high school prom, standing against the wall with a wilted corsage; silently willing someone, anyone, to acknowledge their existence.
The perks of being a wallflower include the likelihood of going unnoticed when need be. Perhaps that is what Premier Alison Redford and her staffers had counted on – a gymnasium full of Alberta voters so caught up in the popular song she was spinning, so enchanted by the progressive theme and decor of the political prom she had coordinated, they wouldn’t think for a moment about the invisible wallflower hiding in a corner. They wouldn’t even think to look for it. After all, this is the Transparency Prom. There are no “invisibles” here.
To make matters worse, those who knew about the wallflower manifest and expenses chose to ignore them. Those who could’ve walked across the gym floor and pulled the “invisible” on to center stage and introduced the wallflower to the dancers, chose instead to stand in front of it and ignore it’s existence, as well as the dichotomy it presented. They stood there, as the great defenders of the downtrodden, as the warriors against the political virus of entitlement, as the voices for those very wallflowers they profess to be prophets for, and they did nothing.
Those who could have, chose to do nothing.
Why they did nothing is worth our exploration. In the case of every opposition party in the Alberta Legislature High School, it was about popularity timing. It was about – especially in the case of the Official Opposition Wildrose – sitting on top of the damning evidence until as late as they possibly could. In effect, standing in front of the wallflower and ignoring it, all the while knowing that when the timing was most politically beneficial to their party, they would jump back and yell out to the crowds , “behold the wallflower that we have seen and you have not! Now vote for us for Prom Queen because this prom stinks!”
But it wasn’t just the rebels. The journalist chaperones of the political prom – those we trust to provide us with truth, warn us against getting too intimate on the dance floor, and guard the information punch bowl to keep it from being spiked with overproof spin – didn’t even show up. Where were the chaperones? Out in the parking lot, brokering the power of their bylines, because they are no longer interested in telling the wallflower’s story. No, they are far too busy sharing their impression of the prom, too busy giving opinion to the attendees, too preoccupied with being someone important – in a dignity selling attempt to gain adoration – to walk the outskirt bleachers unnoticed, find the wallflower, and point it out to the dancers. So busy trying to be the superstar class historian that they have forgotten their job is to chaperone and inform from the sidelines, void of self interest.
At some point in all of this misrepresentation – this Machiavellian mayhem and maneuvering – the wallflower is noticed. Then, with a bit of prodding and pushing, the wallflower makes its way to the center of the gymnasium, pushing through the partisan cheerleaders, the quarterbacks of rhetoric, the champions of self interest, and stands in the center of everything, waiting for its close up.
And everyone stops dancing.
As fast as they can bust their last partisan groove, the popular clique seek to absolve themselves and their adored party coordinator. They grab the spotlight and shine it on who the coordinator is in an attempt to divert from the facade she created. They decide it’s about our personal issues with the coordinator. They admonish us for not understanding that she is the Best. Coordinator. Ever. (according to her resume). They accuse us of being discriminatory of her based on the sum of her body parts, and in doing so demand that we ignore the sum of her actions. They tell us we should’ve never noticed the wallflower, it doesn’t deserve our attention. They accuse us of “bullying” because we demanded answers, all the while ignoring that it is their prom coordinator – and her team – who have been the bullies.
In the greatest moment of irony, the journalist chaperones – who have been hanging out in the parking lot this entire time – call out those who pushed the wallflower into the spotlight, attacking them as “mean girls”, and in the same breath labeling the one attendee who said the prom coordinator “isn’t a nice lady” as a misogynist.
Then, in their final act of self preservation, they shame us for not knowing about the previous coordinator who didn’t even let them decorate the gymnasium, and hogged all the party punch for himself. In saying this, the chaperones neglect to acknowledge that they never told us about the sins of the Prom King, because had they done so, the Prom King would’ve never shared secrets – and his six pack of Pilsner – in the parking lot again. They absolve themselves of any responsibility, choosing instead to attack those who showed up together, ignoring clique boundaries. They avoid admitting that in the end they are not Woodward and Bernstein, because they don’t have time for “deep throat”, nor are they willing to acquiesce their notoriety long enough to let the story be the star.
At some point in all of this, the prom co-ordinator exits the building, unapologetic and bitter, touting her accomplishments and dedication, painting herself as a martyr, flipping her hair and flashing a contemptuous smirk, while a lone devotee chants her name in the background.
Al. is. on.
On her way down the staircase for the last time, she presents us with the inflated bill for the cost to have her team organize the prom, and the price for her to fly in for the evening. As they exit the building, her team turns around, spits in our general direction, claims they did nothing wrong and she is the victim of rumour and malicious smears. Of course, none of this can be confirmed because, at the very least, Redford and her team were smart enough to get staffers – who would eventually end up under a bus – sign non-disclosure agreements that will prevent us from knowing that the prom decorations were hung through intimidation and bullying, loyalty can be purchased with severance packages, scandals can be averted via IIR relocations, and criticism can be avoided by using one’s own child as a political shield.
Alison Redford’s Transparency Ball.
Worst. Prom. Ever.