The Wildrose Party attacked the premier’s sister on two fronts Tuesday.
The official opposition party reported Lynn Redford to the province’s chief electoral officer for her involvement in illegal political donations.
And it formally asked the head of Alberta’s inquiry into health-care queue jumping to call Redford, a senior Alberta Health Services executive, as one of its first witnesses.
“We have sent a letter to the chief electoral officer with our findings and asked for an investigation into what looks like illegal contributions from Lynn Redford when she was employed by Calgary Health Region,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith told reporters outside the legislature chamber.
Smith also distributed a letter sent by Wildrose to John Vertes, the former judge, who is heading the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry.
“I think because of the past connections she has had with politicians, and because she was identified in Hansard as being a go-to person, I think that there is a good reason for us to hear directly from her directly what she has to say at this inquiry."
The complaint to the chief electoral officer, and the call for Redford’s testimony at the queue-jumping inquiry, follows a CBC News investigation, broadcast and published Monday.
It revealed Lynn Redford was involved in illegal political donations to the Conservative party and used public money to support Tory party functions.
It also revealed Redford met often, and exclusively, with many Tory ministers and MLAs while she was a senior executive with the former Calgary Health Region.
The CBC stories were based on Redford’s expense records, which were also obtained through freedom of information by the Wildrose party.
In her letter to Vertes, Smith says “regardless of their legality, these expenses quite clearly show that Ms. Redford, whose job title was often listed as Government Relations officer for the Calgary Health Region, was one of the principal liaisons between provincial politicians and the Calgary Health Region.”
“It stands to reason that any senior health service’s ‘government relations’ official would potentially have information for the inquiry regarding the relationship between health executives and politicians.”
Redford’s expense records show she attended Tory fundraisers, annual general meetings for both the Tories and the Liberals, and bought liquor, food and other items for a Tory MLA barbeque.
Under Alberta law, it is not illegal to claim a political expense but it is illegal to pay out such a claim. Lynn Redford declined an interview request.
The documents show Redford’s association with the Tory party, and meetings with its ministers and MLAs, ended abruptly in 2009 when the Calgary Health Region was melded into Alberta Health Services.
Former AHS chief executive officer Stephen Duckett told CBC News he ended what he called “preferential access” for some Albertans.
It has been public knowledge for years that Lynn Redford was the contact person, within the Calgary Health Region, for MLAs from southern Alberta who wanted to advocate on behalf of patients.
According to an April 8, 2009 exchange in the Alberta Legislature reported by Hansard, Calgary Liberal MLA Harry Chase worried his ability to advocate on behalf of patients would end when the Calgary Health Region became defunct.
“I used to be able to address my concerns to a lady whose name I believe was Lynn Redford,” Chase states.
“You still can,” then Progressive Conservative health minister Ron Liepert responds.
Chase expressed relief Redford would still serve in that role.
”She is an absolutely wonderful front-line individual. We could call and within two hours we would get directed."
Premier Alison Redford announced the queue-jumping inquiry in February.
It is to begin hearings in December under the direction of retired Northwest Territories Supreme Court judge John Vertes.
Vertes is to determine if some Albertans employed fear or favour to allow themselves, or others, to leapfrog to the top of waiting lists for medical procedures and, if so, to recommend what can be done to stop it.
Vertes has the power to subpoena witnesses but he can’t find fault. A report must be submitted to Speaker Gene Zwozdesky no later than April 30.