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Wildrose calls on Ethics Commissioner to appoint independent investigator

CALGARY, AB (January 10, 2013):  With the close relationship between Alberta’s PC government and the Ethics Commissioner on display at today’s session of the Preferential Access Health Inquiry, Wildrose called on Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into Premier Alison Redford’s conflict-of-interest, and follow the lead of Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer and appoint an independent person to supervise the investigation.

Earlier this week it was announced that Wilkinson’s office would be conducting an investigation into a possible breach by Premier Redford of the Conflict of Interest Act after allegations that she improperly awarded a $10 billion dollar litigation contract to JSS Barristers, a firm with which the Premier has close personal and political ties.  Elections Alberta has also begun an investigation into the PC Party’s accepting a potentially illegal donation, but in that case a retired Queen’s Bench Justice was placed in charge of the investigation. “Albertans need to have the confidence that an investigation into the Premier will be completely impartial,” Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson said.  “But with the long list of publicly acknowledged ties between Mr. Wilkinson and this PC government and now his involvement in the queue jumping inquiry, it would be better for everyone, including Mr. Wilkinson, to have this investigation supervised by an independent party with no strong ties to the PC Party.” Mr. Wilkinson’s appointment to the position of Ethics Commissioner in 2008 was controversial and opposed by all opposition parties at the time.  His appointment is up for renewal in front of a PC dominated Legislature committee this November. Prior to his appointment as Ethics Commissioner, Mr. Wilkinson had been a donor to PC candidates and involved in PC Leadership campaigns. Earlier this year Wilkinson waved the “cooling off” period for former PC Cabinet Minister, Evan Berger, to be awarded a six figure patronage post in his former ministry of Agriculture, citing Mr. Berger’s status as part of the “government family.” Mr. Wilkinson, in his former capacity as Chair of the Capital Health Region, is also the target of an outstanding FOIP request with regard to his expenses in that position.