December 04, 2012

QP: CORRECTING THE RECORD: Redford twists and turns on tobaccogate, while Lukaszuk and Denis miss the mark

EDMONTON, AB (December 4, 2012):   PC CLAIM: Responding to questions from Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith as to why Premier Alison Redford continues to insist she did not make the decision to choose International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers for a $10 billion litigation contract, Premier Alison Redford stated on different occasions, “I was not involved in making the decision,” or, “I did not make this decision,” or “I had no part in the decision.”  

FACT: The facts of the case could not be any clearer. 

  • As Justice Minister, Redford personally signed a memo awarding the contract to ITRL, saying “… the best choice for Alberta will be the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers.” (Dec. 14, 2010)
  • A memo from Assistant Deputy Minister Grant Sprague to Deputy Minister Ray Bodnarek saying, “Shortly before Christmas, Minister Redford selected the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers.” (Jan. 13, 2011)
  • Letters of rejection from the Justice department to the unsuccessful firms that say, “the quality of proposals made the assessment of the proposals very challenging. It became obvious that each proposal had their own unique qualities. I regret to advise that your proposal was not successful.” (Dec. 22, 2010)
  • An e-mail from Sprague to Lorne Merryweather, the Executive Director of Litigation at Justice, saying “Call made to Karsten (sic) Jensen at the successful consortium.”
  • An e-mail from Carsten Jensen, partner of one of the firms in the ITRL consortium, to the Justice department saying, “We were very happy to learn that we will be working with you on the health care recovery claim.” (Jan. 6, 2011) 

PC CLAIM: Responding to a question from Wildrose Calgary-Shaw MLA Jeff Wilson as to why Premier Alison Redford continues to insist she had no involvement in ordering an investigation into an investigation into an alleged illegal fundraiser, Redford responded, “the clerk of the executive council took over the entire process, at that point, I was not involved in it, there is nothing that is not absolutely certain with respect to the facts of this.”  

FACT: Redford in fact directly intervened and asked for the ethics commissioner to investigate an alleged illegal fundraiser before directing it to her own department under Executive Council, as the headline reads from CBC News, “Gary Mar ordered to take unpaid leave by premier”  

PC CLAIM: Responding to a question from Liberal leader Raj Sherman on why the Premier did not remove herself from making the decision on a tobacco-litigation contract, Redford stated, “There was nothing for me to recuse myself from because I didn’t make the decision.”  

FACT: As Wildrose Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson pointed out in the house, the Wildrose is concerned about violations in 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 fact is there is a close and personal relationship among the Premier and several members of the law firm.  Her ex-husband a senior partner at the firm led the transition team for Redford into the Premier’s office, the Premier’s Chief of Staff’s wife was hired by the firm just before the election, firm partners have donated tens of thousands to the PC party, the Premier’s constituency association and to her leadership bid.  These facts create at the very least the appearance of a conflict-of-interest.  

PC CLAIM: Responding to a question from PC MLA Mary Anne Jablonski on supposed openness initiatives by the government, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk responded, “We have instituted a policy of transparency relevant to our expenditures, not only elected members, but all employees, executives and board members in Alberta.”  

FACT: It has been reported several PC Cabinet Ministers are resisting in revealing their expenses, prior to the government’s new expense policy, through FOIP requests.  The Canadian Taxpayers Federation states details on expenses reimbursed to Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk along with Ministers Horner, Hancock, Cusanelli and Klimchuk have all been refused.  Further several AHS executives still have failed to post their expenses online and available for the public.  

PC CLAIM: Responding to a question from Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson as to why the government has deflected concerns about an appropriate amount of crown prosecutors and resources, Justice Minister Jonathan Denis stated that he had already ordered a “fully independent” review.  

FACT: While the Wildrose Official Opposition has long been calling for an independent review to address a case of justice dropped in an Airdrie sex-assault case, among other cases in Alberta’s justice system, the PC government has only so far announced an internal investigation led by a Justice Department official. 


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