It was announced recently that Premier Alison Redford is now under investigation for her role in awarding a $10-billion tobacco litigation contract to a firm with close personal and political ties in JSS Barristers.
Up to this point, despite pressure from the Wildrose Official Opposition, the premier and her minister of Justice, Jonathan Denis, have failed to provide any evidence that the offer made by the law firm JSS was the most competitive bid, leaving taxpayers on the line for possibly billions of dollars in contingency fees.
With the possible breach of our conflict-of-interest legislation, along with the fact that there remains no evidence the contract awarded was in the best interest of hardworking taxpayers, the Wildrose has asked that the involvement of JSS be temporarily suspended in the ongoing lawsuit.
But instead of accepting responsibility for the government’s latest troubling scandal, Minister Denis is instead choosing to offer up petty attacks suggesting those concerned about this serious ethical breach (like the Opposition) don’t “support the lawsuit moving forward” and is “in bed with big tobacco.” These statements simply aren’t true.
On Dec. 4, 2012 in the legislature, Opposition Leader Danielle Smith clearly stated, “We are not disputing the decision. We are disputing how the decision was made.”
Recently, a letter was delivered to Denis written by Shayne Saskiw, Opposition justice critic. Mr. Saskiw pointed out, “There are potentially billions of dollars on the line in contingency fees and this minister insists on keeping Albertans in the dark on whether or not they received the best deal. Instead of making up stories about the Opposition, the minister and the government should focus on cleaning up this deep ethical mess they’ve put themselves in.”
Above is yet another situation in which this PC government should be held accountable for their actions, but instead of accepting responsibility, it seems like this government is only interested in making up attacks instead. We believe Albertans deserve a government that respects our conflict-of-interest laws and works in the best interest of the province. Sadly, in this latest investigation to hit the premier’s office, we have seen neither.
What do you think? Feel free to contact me.
Kerry Towle, MLA
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Constituency