Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at the Canada Strong and Free Network in Ottawa on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Smith says she has been contacted by the province's ethics commissioner, who is investigating whether or not she interfered in the administration of justice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Alberta premier says she’s under ethics investigation related to COVID-19 prosecution

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she’s under investigation by the provincial ethics commissioner into whether she interfered in the administration of justice in relation to a COVID-19 prosecution.

The premier’s office says in a statement that Smith welcomes the investigation, will co-operate and is confident the probe will determine she has done nothing wrong.

Smith has faced renewed accusations of interference in the justice system after a leaked phone call was released almost two weeks ago in which she is heard discussing an active criminal case with the accused.

On the call, Smith is heard sharing details of an internal disagreement over Crown case strategy with Calgary street pastor Artur Pawlowski as they discuss his case.

Smith is heard promising to make inquiries on Pawlowski’s behalf and report back to him while also telling him the charges against him are politically motivated.

Smith has defended the call, saying while politicians are not free to contact criminal accused about active cases, it’s her job as an elected official to listen and act on concerns from the public.

Over the weekend, Smith offered up a new version of the call, saying she thought she was talking to Pawlowski in his role as the leader of another political party and suggested she had not expected him to bring up his court case.

Legal experts say the call was a clear violation of the firewall between politicians and the justice system and, regardless of the pretext, Smith should have ended the call when the case came up.

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