Alison Redford responds to conflict of interest allegations
Premier dismissed the claims and said the amount of attention being paid to the controversy is ‘getting silly’
Premier Alison Redford dodged questions prior to a Diamond Jubilee Medal presentation ceremony at Mount Royal University today.
Redford, who has drawn heavy criticism from the opposition over conflict of interest allegations regarding her ex-husband’s law company, dismissed the allegations against her as “disappointing.”
“This is getting silly,” Redford said. “This isn’t what Albertans elected any member of the legislature to do.”
The opposition alleges Redford mislead the legislature regarding the selection of Tobacco Recovery Lawyers LLP legal consortium chosen to represent the government in a $10-billion 2010 lawsuit against the tobacco industry.
Documents released Wednesday by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Wildrose Alliance Party allege that then justice-minister Redford made the final call to choose the consortium, which included the Calgary-based firm Jensen, Shawa, Solomon, Duguid and Hawkes – of which Redford’s ex-husband Robert Hawkes is a partner.
Redford and Hawkes divorced after five years of marriage in their 20s, but remained friends. Hawkes lead Redford’s 2011 transition team.
Redford says she wasn’t aware of any conflicts of interest in this circumstance, saying that there was an arms-length council in place to vet these conflicts.
“I am not going to let these questions be characterized by how the opposition is choosing to sort the information,” Redford said, adding that her successor as justice minister, Verlyn Olson, made the final call to hire the consortium that included her ex-husband’s firm.
This potential conflict of interest has come to light in the same week that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was forced to vacate the mayor’s chair over his own conflict of interest case, involving $3,150 of illicitly-solicited donations to the football charity foundation he runs.
The Wildrose has also attacked Redford for her two-week absence from question period in Edmonton, going so far as to release a “wanted poster” and asking Albertans to send in tips to Wildrose leader “Sheriff” Danielle Smith.
“I’ve spent the past two weeks talking with the Prime Minister, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, premiers from across this country,” said Redford, dismissing the claims from Smith and the Wildrose. “I met with the premier on Quebec, talking about putting a pipeline from the east to the west – these are the issues Albertans want us to talk about in the legislature.”
When faced with questions about the Alberta New Democrat leader Brian Mason’s call for her to resign, the media scrum was cut off and Redford was lead away by her team.