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Did Albertans get best deal in tobacco-gate? Redford won't say

EDMONTON, AB (December 6, 2012): Today, Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith called on Premier Alison Redford to release the details of the bids received for the government’s $10 billion lawsuit against tobacco companies so taxpayers know they received the best deal.

 Smith said proving the bid submitted and accepted from International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers (ITRL) was indeed the lowest received would put to rest a lot of fears Albertans have that Redford hand-picked the firm for a sweetheart deal from the government.  Two other firms submitted bids. The ITRL consortium, which includes a law firm heavily connected to Redford and the PC party, was awarded the contract by then Justice Minister Redford two years ago. In Question Period today, Redford and the PC government refused to confirm if ITRL’s bid was the lowest.  “We know Premier Redford made the decision to award this contract to a law consortium with deep ties to her and the PC party. What we don’t know is if it was actually the lowest bid received,” Smith said. “Albertans deserve to know who is getting the best deal here – taxpayers or the Premier’s favourite law firm.” Alberta is endeavoring to recover $10 billion in taxpayer money from tobacco companies and the ITRL consortium is entitled to a cut contingent on the success of the suit. Tobacco lawsuits in other Canadian provinces have included contingency fees as high as 30% in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador.  “There are literally billions of dollars at stake here and the PC government continues to hide just how much of it will go to the law firm the Premier chose,” Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said. “Until we know for sure that theirs was the lowest bid, how are Albertans to know if the Premier didn’t interfere in the process to help out her favourite law firm?”