EDMONTON, AB (January 7, 2013): Alberta Ethics Commissioner, Neil Wilkinson, has provided written confirmation to the Wildrose Official Opposition that Premier Alison Redford will be investigated for a potential breach of the Conflict of Interest Act for her involvement in choosing a law firm to undertake the largest litigation suit in Alberta’s history.
In response to Mr. Wilkinson’s request, the Wildrose Official Opposition today has sent a letter to the Ethics Commissioner outlining the overwhelming evidence that Premier Redford was intimately involved in selecting the law firm JSS Barristers to pursue the litigation, and that doing so constituted an obvious and serious violation of section 3 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which prohibits a member from using her office to make a decision that improperly furthers another person’s private interest. The Wildrose Official Opposition further requested the Ethics Commissioner implement appropriate sanctions against the Premier for the said violation. In addition, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw, will be sending a letter to Alberta’s Justice Minister and Solicitor General, Jonathan Denis, demanding that further action on the litigation contract be immediately suspended until the Ethics Commissioner completes his investigation of the Premier’s involvement in this matter. “The Premier was the primary decision-maker in awarding potentially billions in legal fees to a law firm in which she has more political and personal ties to than any other in the country,” Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson said. “If this is not a breach of our ethics legislation, then we may as well just throw out the entire act. This is the very definition of a conflict of interest, and the Premier has shown a disturbing lack of judgment in this matter.” After flatly denying that she had any role in selecting the International Tobacco Recovery consortium, documents released through freedom of information, established that Premier Redford hand-picked JSS Barristers, a law firm owned by her personal and political confidants, for a $10 billion dollar litigation contract while Justice Minister. The evidence includes memos from Redford herself making the decision, along with senior officials, including her Deputy Minister stating clearly that she made the decision. “The evidence in this case is clear. The decision to award the contract to a firm with strong political and personal ties was primarily hers,” said Wildrose Justice Critic, Shayne Saskiw. To date, Premier Redford and her PC government have also refused to release the details surrounding the bidding process, including the size of the contingency fees negotiated and whether it was the lowest fee of the last three qualified firms. “Taxpayers are in the dark on whether or not they received the best deal,” Saskiw said. “We hope that proper sanctions are handed out for any wrongdoing and that all litigation activity for this case is suspended and the contract appropriately retendered.”