The premier's office says commercial flights were considered, but there were news reports of passenger backlogs. Mark Blinch/Canadian Press
Alison Redford's colleagues and friends appear to be distancing themselves from the former Alberta premier over findings by the auditor general about her use of government aircraft.
In an internal report to the government obtained exclusively by CBC News earlier this week, MerwanSaher revealed Redford's staff booked false passengers on government flights, apparently to restrict who could fly with the premier.
Critical reactions from opposition party members swiftly followed news of the report, with several provincial party leaders calling for an RCMP investigation into the allegations.
On Wednesday, some of Redford's former colleagues and longtime friends added their voices to the fray, including Redford's former campaign manager and friend of 30 years, Susan Elliott.
"I am very, very disappointed that the way things have played out means that all of the potential and all of the hope that we had for her premiership is not going to come to pass," said Elliott.
When asked what Redford should do next, Elliott said that Redford would make her own decisions on the matter.
"If it were me, I'm not sure that I would want to keep my seat. I don't know how much more of this abuse that you would want to take.
"At this point, she is not likely to come back as a senior cabinet minister or a premier again," she added.
Prentice says Albertans are 'justifiably' upset
PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice, whom Redford once articled for as a law student, said he still calls her a friend. But he said he is "disappointed, saddened, outraged" with the auditor general's findings.
"This entire situation is completely inexcusable and defies explanation," he said, adding that Albertans are justifiably angry about the allegations.
Calling it a "low point" in Alberta politics, Prentice said that he would support an RCMP investigation into the matter if the flight manifests were, in fact, altered.
However, he added that it was important not to rush to conclusions before the full report is released.
"They'll have to base that investigation on what they learn from the auditor general's work and the full force of law should be applied to this if there has been the altering of public documents," he said.
"If the indication is that there's been tampering of public documents, in particular flight manifests, that's a criminal offence and RCMP should be involved. I will ensure they're involved."
Like Elliott, Prentice refused to speculate on whether Redford would resign her seat, saying only that the premier does not have the power to remove her as a member of the legislature.
Redford released a short statement denying knowledge about false passengers on Tuesday night, but has not responded to repeated requests for an interview.
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