Alberta premier accused of conflict of interest for awarding multi-million contract to ex-husband’s law firm

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

If anyone was wondering why Canadians don't trust their politicians, here is a prime example of why.

There seems to a conflict of interest-palooza happening in the political sphere across the country. There's Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, Mississauga's Hazel McCallion and Toronto's Rob Ford who have all come under fire for conflict allegations.

[ Related: Toronto's Rob Ford tops a long list of Canadian mayors in turmoil ]

And now there's Alberta premier Alison Redford.

According to CBC News, in December 2010 — while Redford was justice minister in the Ed Stalmach government — she handpicked a consortium of law firms for a government tobacco litigation contract that could be worth tens of millions of dollars in contingency fees. One of the law firms she chose was her ex-husband's.

"The consortium [of law firms] includes the Calgary firms of Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes (JSS) and Cuming & Gillespie. The two firms have close personal and political ties to both Redford and the Progressive Conservative Party.

Redford's former husband is Robert Hawkes, a partner in JSS, who served as her transition team leader after she won the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race in 2011 and ascended to the premier's office."

CBC News spoke to an ethics professor at the University of Manitoba for his opinion on whether Redford crossed any sort of ethical line.

"The minister of justice, as she then was, Alison Redford, in my view behaved unethically and possibly illegally by not recusing herself from making a decision in which she had a private interest, and was in a conflict of interest situation," Arthur Schafer said.

But don't expect any reprimands for the premier.

According to the report, "ex-spouses are not included in the Conflict of Interest Act", even though it's clear that Redford and her ex are still close.

So, if you're keeping score at home: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was reprimanded over voting on a measure which freed him from repaying $3,150.  Yes, it was small beans, but Ford did something wrong and he should be held accountable.

[ Related: Could Doug Ford replace his brother as Toronto's mayor? ]

London Mayor Joe Fontana gets charged by the RCMP for using taxpayer to pay for his son's wedding but somehow keeps his job.

And now it looks like Alison Redford won't even face an investigation?

Earlier this year, the Manning Centre conducted a survey and found that only 1 per cent of Canadians had a "very favourable" view of their politicians. After a year of conflicts, I would guess that number is even lower.