Quiet legislature return for former Alberta premier Alison Redford

Click to play video: 'Portrait of former premier Alison Redford put up at Alberta legislature' Portrait of former premier Alison Redford put up at Alberta legislature
WATCH ABOVE: Months after it was completed, the portrait of former premier Alison Redford now hangs in the legislature. As provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon explains, the way it went up broke from tradition – Sep 8, 2016

Former scandal-scarred Alberta premier Alison Redford was immortalized on the walls of the legislature Thursday morning by two staffers who rolled up with no notice, hung her portrait in seconds, checked the levels, and left.

There was no traditional pomp and fanfare that traditionally accompanies the official portrait unveilings of premiers past.

Redford said in a statement she did not want any.

“Those in political life are inclined to use events such as this unveiling to paint their own picture of how they want to be remembered and what they hope their legacy might be,” she wrote.

“While the temptation to paint their own pictures and tell their own stories will be hard for some to resist, I instead choose to leave the history of my time in office to be written when time has provided a clearer perspective.”

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READ MORE: Alberta Premier Alison Redford resigns

She thanked those who supported her while in office, adding “It was a unique honour and privilege that has changed my life, my understanding of myself, others, and of this beautiful province.”

The portrait depicts Redford, Alberta’s first female premier, in a maroon jacket and black skirt standing with her left hand resting on a stack of books on a side table and her right hand holding the family tartan.

A government worker examines a painting of former Alberta Premier Alison Redford hanging in the Alberta Legislature amongst past premiers, in Edmonton on Thursday, September 8, 2016.
A government worker examines a painting of former Alberta Premier Alison Redford hanging in the Alberta Legislature amongst past premiers, in Edmonton on Thursday, September 8, 2016. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

The names of the books etched on the spines reflect her stated core values and interests: Energy, Opportunity, Equality, Diversity.

Around her neck are the pearls passed down from grandmother to mother to her.

The work is an oil on canvas by Calgary artist Liela Chan, completed for $12,500.

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Unlike the portraits of the 13 premiers who preceded her, Redford does not look directly back at the observer. Rather her head is tilted up, looking into the distance.

Ric McIver, interim leader of Redford’s Progressive Conservatives, said he was OK with the lack of ceremony.

“What the former premier wanted was to have no pomp and circumstance today, so obviously it was the right thing in my mind to respect her wishes,” said McIver.

“I think this is the day to remember the positive things,” he said, noting Redford’s government completed key trade corridors and expanded public release of government staff salaries.

Some members of Premier Rachel Notley’s cabinet passed by the portrait on their way to a meeting.

Government House Leader Brian Mason, who tangled with Redford in her time as justice minister and premier, said she “made a contribution.”

“I think some of that may have been lost in some of the controversies toward the end of her term.”

READ MORE: Timeline: A look at troubles of former Alberta premier Alison Redford

An official ceremony had been in the works.

In January, the government announced Redford had agreed to attend a spring unveiling ceremony.

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No reason was given for the deferral. But in April, an investigation was reopened into how Redford as justice minister chose a law firm headed up by her political adviser, who was also her ex-husband, to run a multibillion-dollar government lawsuit against tobacco companies for health costs.

The case is ongoing, with all decisions being handled by officials in British Columbia to avoid any conflict of interest.

READ MORE: B.C. conflict commissioner to review investigation into Alison Redford tobacco file

Redford could not be reached for comment. She has avoided the public spotlight since she resigned in March 2014, one step ahead of a caucus revolt fuelled by a public scandal over exorbitant spending on herself and her inner circle.

Those bills to the taxpayer included preliminary construction on a high-end condo-style retreat for Redford on top of the government’s Federal Building, about a block from the legislature.

READ MORE: Alberta premier apologizes for ‘sky palace’ situation

Redford has refused to discuss details of what happened on her watch except for broad statements saying “mistakes were made.”

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