Alberta's justice minister says the province's lawsuit against big tobacco companies will proceed.
Alberta's ethics commissioner is investigating whether Premier Alison Redford was in a conflict of interest when her ex-husband's law firm was chosen for a $10-billion tobacco lawsuit.
But the opposition Wildrose Party is calling for the lawsuit to be put on hold while the ethics commissioner investigates Redford.
Justice Minister Jonathan Denis says there is no reason to delay the lawsuit.
"We had a competitive process, we picked the lowest bidder and I have full confidence in this consortium," Denis said.
"This consortium of lawyers has proven to be successful in other cases and I want to be on the side of the average Alberta taxpayer in recovering these health-care costs over the last 10, 20, 30 or more years, not on the side of big tobacco."
He also said he understands why the Wildrose Party wants the lawsuit delayed.
"'I’m happy that they've actually shown their true colours, they've shown their hand, the fact that they don't want the lawsuit to proceed," he said.
"The fact is Danielle Smith about 10 years ago she worked for a paper here and wrote many, many pro-tobacco columns. I think this shows as to their true agenda, that they do not want this suit against big tobacco to proceed.... It appears to me that the Wildrose is particularly dragging this matter — the matter of all the inquiries and investigations, out solely for their own political gain."
Denis says the speaker has already ruled there was no problem with Redford's handling of the contract, but this investigation by the ethics commissioner should settle the matter.
"After this, I think it's time to basically leave it and decide by that particular ruling," Denis said. "Again as someone with a number of years of legal experience myself, I fail to see where this will actually go but I will leave it up to the ethics commissioner."
Denis says the province's statement of claim has been filed.
- Click here to see the documentation leading up to the ethics investigation, which are located at the bottom of the page.