Saturday, December 01, 2012

Goodbye, Premier Redford

Premier Redford
I like Premier Redford. I think she was a breath of fresh air in the closed Alberta system, promising a departure from myopic thinking and an entry into the real world.

Now it seems that a trail of emails might play a role in her departure as Premier, caused by her statements to the Legislature, as Gary Mason writes in the Globe & Mail:

The Premier has repeatedly denied playing any role in choosing International Recovery Lawyers – her ex-husband’s firm – to represent the province in its $10-billion suit against “big tobacco.” It is a suit that represents a potential payout into the hundreds of millions of dollars for International Recovery, which is working on a contingency fee basis.

“I was not the Justice minister at the time the government made that decision,” Ms. Redford has insisted when asked in the legislature about this matter. She maintains the decision was made by her successor, Verlyn Olson, after she stepped down to seek her party’s leadership.

That seemed fine until the Wildrose Party got its hands on e-mails that appeared to contradict those statements. A Dec. 14, 2010, note from Ms. Redford has her saying that her ex-husband’s law firm was the best choice of the three firms bidding for the contract. A month later, a provincial Justice Department memo stated: “Shortly before Christmas, Ms. Redford selected International Tobacco Recovery lawyers.”

And then the current Justice Minister, Jonathan Denis, told reporters that Ms. Redford had made the decision but it wasn’t a conflict because she was dealing with an ex-spouse. (Later in the day, the government’s story changed and former Justice minister Veryln Olson said it was he, not Ms. Redford, who made the decision.)

The government is trying to insist that the deal wasn’t a deal until a final contract was negotiated and signed with International Tobacco, which didn’t happen until after Ms. Redford had left Justice. On the surface, however, that looks like pretty thin ice on which to be skating.

Technically, an ex-spouse is not someone that a politician can be in a conflict of interest in dealing with under the province’s conflict legislation, although it seems that given Ms. Redford’s relationship with Mr. Hawkes, recusing herself from the process would have been the prudent thing to do. But that isn’t the big issue here.

The big issue is she told the legislature she had nothing to do with the decision when memos and e-mails suggest the contrary.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said it clearly: “There is overwhelming evidence that the Premier lied.”
Her chances of survival are, in my view, remote.


  1. Chr├ętien survived Shawinigate. Bill Clinton survived the Lewinsky scandal. How is this bigger and more damaging than those scandals?

  2. Brendan, think of the context: Quebec convulsed by corruption scandals and damaging evidence of wide ranging misdeeds by several government officials and mayors; Elections Canada digging deeper and deeper into widespread voter suppression complaints; distasteful federal Conservative actions over the past few years, and several elected officials recently slapped on the wrist over transgressions.

    Now add to that the infighting amongst conservatives in Alberta.

    Toss in a sprinkle of spice: a former spouse perhaps entitled to significant revenues from legal fees.

    And think about this fact: What did a premier tell the legislature, and was it true or false?

    You have a recipe for a long lasting media frenzy, tons of totally negative advertising by political opponents, and an opening for ambitious people in her own party to see if they can oust her and take over the helm ...

  3. She's not going anywhere. Mason and Smith are a couple of assh**es who care naught for the province. Just want power and they lie and scheme every which way. The media is relishing sitting in their own political sh*t with Mason and Smith. It's 4 more years until the next election.

  4. Kitt, will she have a choice?

    If journalists are camped out around her former husband's home and place of work, digging into details of the firm he works for, asking questions from everyone they can think of about the exact date and timing and content of discussions she had and acts done before, during and after the appointment took place, filing FOI requests, interviewing ordinary and other people .... for a week or so or more ... what will happen within her party?

    I hope she survives, but that seems to be a blunder if she was indeed involved in the decision. The far better course would have been for her to say she was involved, to describe her involvement, the sequence, and then point out that it was not a technical breack of any conflict laws what apply ...

    That way, the storm would blow over soon enough.


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