Premier's scandal could cost taxpayers
A column by Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson
As you may have heard by now, the Premier of Alberta is embroiled in an ethics scandal wherein she, while justice minister, decided to award a massive tobacco litigation contract worth potentially billions in legal fees to a small law firm who she has multiple close ties with including a senior partner at that firm who is her close friend, ex-husband, transition team leader and large political donor.
The premier complicated the matter further when she stated in the Legislature that she did not make the decision to award the contract.
When over a dozen documents obtained through freedom of information laws clearly showed she had in fact made the decision, the premier continued with her denial just the same.
It’s a very sad and disturbing story - and one that may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if it is not corrected.
Here is a member statement I gave in the house on this matter, which outlines why in my view, the premier clearly misled the Legislature and Albertans when she denied making the decision on awarding the tobacco litigation file:
Mr. Speaker - yesterday the premier stood in this house and referencing the tobacco litigation contract given to her ex-husband’s law firm stated “I was not the justice minister at the time that the government made that decision”
Well, Mr. Speaker, let us examine the facts to see if what the premier said was indeed the truth.
First - a key date - the current premier resigned from her duties as justice minister on Feb 16, 2011 - so I will only be outlining the written evidence produced from before that date.
First letter is a memo with the current premier’s own signature dated Dec. 14, 2010 in which the premier in response to a request asking for her decision on who should represent Alberta in the tobacco litigation, states “the best choice for Alberta will be the International Tobacco recovery Lawyers.” That’s her ex-husbands law firm.
Next, we have a memo from the assistant deputy minister of justice dated Jan. 13, 2011, updating the deputy minister of justice on where the tobacco litigation file is at. It says “Shortly before Christmas, Minister Redford selected the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers.”
Next, we have an email with three letters of rejection attached that was sent to law firms that had applied for the litigation contract but were not successful - the email is dated Dec. 22, 2010 and was sent to the deputy minister of justice.
Then we have yet another letter from the assistant deputy minister of justice to the executive director of Alberta justice stating “Call made to Carsten Jensen (senior partner at the law firm in question) at the successful consortium.”
And lastly, we have an email to litigation director at Alberta Justice from Carsten Jensen, senior partner at the premier’s ex-husband’s law firm, dated Jan. 6, 2011 which states, “We were very happy to learn that we will be working with you on the health care recovery claim.”
Mr. Speaker, the evidence in this matter is clear.
When the premier stood up in this house and stated she was not the justice minister at the time the government made the decision to award the contract in question - that simply was not true; and her stating otherwise should give every Albertan pause as to her credibility on this matter as well as many others.