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Alberta Premier Redford grilled at Tory board meeting after tough week

Alberta Premier Alison Redford scrums with the media following a meeting of the provincial PC Party executive in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta Premier Alison Redford faced some tough questions at a party board meeting on Saturday, capping off what she admits has been a tough week.

But she and Progressive Conservative party president Jim McCormick emerged from the four-and-a-half-hour gathering showing a united front.

The "$45,000 question" was discussed, said McCormick, referring to the premier's costly trip to South Africa to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral in December.

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"It was a wide-ranging no-holds barred discussion," he said.

"The premier did an excellent job. She didn't back away from any of the rather hard-hitting questions that she was asked. And she was very frank with us as we were very frank with her."

The grilling took place at a regularly scheduled meeting with the party's board of directors, including dozens of volunteers from across the province.

"The premier received a standing ovation," said McCormick. "Absolutely everybody was on their feet."

The party is hammering out a "work plan" for Redford to address some of the issues raised Saturday, but there were few details on what that would entail.

On Saturday, Redford declined to respond in detail to personal attacks that were levelled against her throughout the week.

"I would say, quite frankly, this has not been a highlight of a week for behaviour or very mature conversation on a lot of levels," she said.

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"I think a lot of people were quite emotional, probably said a lot of things that they regret and I think it's time for us to try to move on and start to talk about what matters to Albertans, which is the future of the province."

On Friday, the president of a Progressive Conservative riding association in northeast Edmonton said Redford must resign or the party will lose the next election.

Steve Robson, who heads the Tory association in the NDP-held seat of Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, said Redford is an "arrogant" leader who doesn't listen to her caucus and has no regard for the Tory establishment.

Redford said that no one at Saturday's meeting asked her to resign.

On Thursday, Calgary backbencher Len Webber quit the Tory party to sit as an Independent. He claimed Redford was a bully prone to fits of rage.

"I think a lot of people have seen me almost every day for two and a half years, at least since I became the leader of the party," said Redrod.

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"I work very hard to work with people, to bring people together and I'll continue to do that. Whether that means that everyone is going to have an opinion of me that is the same, I can't comment on that. We don't all agree on absolutely everything, but I do my best every day."

Redford has been under fire for taking a $45,000 taxpayer-funded trip to attend Nelson Mandela's memorial in South Africa.

She resisted calls to pay back the money for weeks, then cut a cheque Wednesday for the expenses.

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