EDMONTON, AB: As further details are revealed surrounding the controversial awarding of a lucrative litigation contract to a consortium with direct ties to former Premier Alison Redford, the NDP government must stop fighting to keep “tobaccogate” documents secret, the Wildrose Official Opposition said Friday.
Controversy has surrounded the decision to choose International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers (ITRL) for years, and the involvement of high level bureaucrats as well as political staff in influencing the decision only reiterates the need for Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley to come clean on this issue. The justice department is currently fighting the Office of the Privacy and Information Commissioner, preventing the release of documents relating to the contract.
“There is a sharp contrast between the outrage the NDP showed about this contract while in opposition, and how they are reacting now that they are in power,” Wildrose Shadow Democracy and Accountability Minister Jason Nixon said. “This government needs to stop suppressing the release of information related to this tendering. The air needs to be cleared.”
Although ITRL was originally assessed as being the last choice between three options to represent the province in the tobacco litigation, they were abruptly chosen as the best choice after meddling from political staff. The senior civil servants who rewrote memos continue to hold high positions in the government and one of them has been promoted to Deputy Minister of Energy.
“It is not clear that the awarding of this contract was in the best interests of Albertans,” Wildrose Shadow Justice Minister Scott Cyr said. “We need the justice minister to step up and bring some transparency to a file that now falls directly under her mandate.”
Wildrose will continue to pressure the NDP government to release all relevant documents and we will ask the Public Accounts Committee to review this matter.