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Redford responds to conflict of interest accusations
Published Friday, November 30, 2012 4:20PM MST
Last Updated Friday, November 30, 2012 6:22PM MST
Opposition leaders in Alberta are calling for the premier to come clean about her role in the selection of a law firm to represent the province in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit.
The NDP and the Wildrose say Redford lied on Wednesday when she said she had no part in picking her ex-husband's law firm to handle a $10 Million dollar tobacco lawsuit.
“You can't call someone a liar in the house but it's clear that the premier lied about her involvement in this case and it's clear that the government is in full damage control,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason.
Redford maintains she told the truth however department memos and documents seem to indicate that she made the decision and that the winner and losers were formally notified while she was still in the job.
The government says what's important is that the deal was finalized by Redford's successor as justice minister, Verlyn Olson.
Olson says when he took over as justice minister, the department was dealing with just one firm on the tobacco lawsuit, International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers, but he says that doesn't mean they had been chosen.
“It is very clear that Minister Olson made the decision as justice minister and that as I understand it he was involved in a number of discussions with respect to whether or not this would proceed. I think yesterday in the house he even said that there was a time when he was considering keeping this in house. It was entirely his decision and that’s all I’m going to say on the matter,” said Redford at Mount Royal University on Friday.
On Thursday, the NDP called for Premier Redford to step aside while an investigation is conducted.
“I’m today calling on Premier Redford to step aside until the matter is properly investigated,” said Leader Brian Mason.
Mason calls it one of the most serious situations he has ever seen affecting a premier.
The Wildrose held a press conference at the Legislature to address the issue and distributed a package titled ‘Is the premier lying?’
The package contained memos and e-mails, showing that Redford, as justice minister, said the best choice to represent the province in the massive suit was her former husband’s law firm.
“There is just too much evidence to let this go away,” Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson said. “There is no wiggling out of this she made the decision.”
Redford says the decision was based on what was best for the province.
“I think if you take a look at the documents that are there you will see advise from the department with respect to what the choices were and I think it was entirely appropriate for the department to then pursue what the best options were,” said Redford.
Redford went on to say she was disappointed that the issue was taking up time in the legislature.
“I’m frankly disappointed that this is what we’re spending our time in question period talking about. I’ve spent the last two weeks meeting with the Prime Minister, the governor of the Bank of Canada, premiers across this country, The premier of Quebec putting a pipeline from east to west, I think these are the issues that Albertans want us to talk about in the legislature and in government,” said Redford. “This is getting silly. This isn’t what Albertans elected any member of the legislature to do and there’s lots of issues that we need to talk about and those are exactly what we should be doing is getting down to the business of being MLAs and ministers and governing the province.”
The Wildrose Party has filed a complaint with the Ethics Commissioner on how the tobacco lawsuit tender was awarded.