The latest government dilemmas
Published Tuesday, January 8, 2013 6:25AM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 8, 2013 6:41PM MST
Premier Alison Redford will be investigated by Alberta’s Ethics Commission for her part in a possible conflict of interest that was uncovered late last year.
Its alleged Redford recommended a contract to sue big tobacco companies in a $10B lawsuit to a group of law firms that included her ex-husband’s.
Redford was serving as justice minister at the time.
She insists that she wasn’t involved in the final decision, but has since been accused of a conflict of interest by the opposition.
The Wild Rose Party and the Liberals made the formal request for Neil Wilkinson, the province’s ethics commissioner, to investigate back in November.
In a letter to the Ethics Commissioner, dated Nov. 28, Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said Redford was responsible for selecting a law firm to handle the tobacco litigation, a contract estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars:
“Ms. Redford chose to award that contract to a consortium of law firms that includes that of her ex-husband, Robert Hawkes. It has been widely publicized that Mr. Hawkes was Ms. Redford’s transition team leader after she won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and became premier.”
Wilkinson says he has started the investigation and Redford has been notified.
In a statement issued Monday, Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson said the law firm, JSS Barristers, had the most political and personal ties to Redford than others in the country.
“If this is not a breach of our ethics legislation, then we may as well just throw out the entire act,” Anderson said in a press release. “This is the very definition of a conflict of interest, and the premier has shown a disturbing lack of judgment in this matter.”
For her part, Redford has maintained she had stepped down from that portfolio to run for premier at the time her ex-husband’s law firm was chosen.
With files from CTV Edmonton