Alison Redford returns to the Alberta Legislature after extended absence

EDMONTON – Alison Redford made her first appearance at the Alberta Legislature Monday since stepping down as premier in late March.

Redford, who is still the MLA for Calgary-Elbow,  said she spent most of that time serving her constituents, apart from four days of personal time.

“Last week was a break at the Legislative Assembly, and the two weeks before that I was working in my constituency,” she said.

WATCH: Raw video: Former Alberta premier Alison Redford addresses her extended absence from the Legislature.

“Took Easter break with my daughter and my husband, first time in four years. And we went to Palm Springs, which I know everyone knows about. It was good for us to do that, we needed to do that.”

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READ MORE: Alison Redford apparently spotted in California while on leave from legislature

Shortly before her vacation to Palm Springs, Redford served official notice to the Speaker that she would continue to be absent from sessions.

She was granted paid leave under a rule which allows absence due to illness or injury, bereavement and public or official business. While the reason behind Redford’s absence was kept confidential, political analysts speculated that it was due to stress.

“How hard has this experience been for you?” she was asked on Monday.

“I’m going to let all of you come to your own conclusions on that,” Redford replied.

“I was really proud to serve as the premier of this province. I am also moving on to a new phase of my life, continuing to do my work as an MLA, and will continue to focus on that.”

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Some MLAs, including Jobs Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, had said unless Redford had some overriding reason – such as health issues – she should be in the legislature during the spring session.

On Monday, Lukaszuk said he was glad Redford is back.

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“That’s good. That means she is well and she is ready to resume her responsibilities as an MLA,” he said.

Redford would not answer questions that have made headlines since her resignation, including a plan to build  a lavish taxpayer-funded penthouse suite atop a government building.

She said those issues have been addressed by others in government and she had nothing to add.

She then asked reporters: “Do you have anything new, or are we done?”

Redford skirted the question that followed: “What went wrong for you in your premiership?”

“I don’t know if I’m going to spend much time reflecting on that at the moment.” she said. “I certainly, as you know, am in the middle of a transition; the party is in the middle of a transition. It will be up to the party to determine what it does next.”

She did say, though, that she sees no reason not to stay on as an MLA.

The vote to replace Redford as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta takes place in September.

With files from The Canadian Press

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