Opposition parties say Premier Alison Redford is a hypocrite for selectively dismissing the findings of Alberta ethics commissioner Neil Wilkinson.
“I think it says volumes about respect for the ethics commissioner and his decisions in general,” New Democrat Leader Brian Mason said.
“When he defends the activities of her, or her MLAs, they will circle the wagons and defend him. But when his findings are even remotely embarrassing to the government, they are quite prepared to ignore or dismiss him.”
Redford, and other members of her caucus, criticized opposition parties for disrespecting Wilkinson and his office after they alleged bias in his recent reports. Before his appointment as ethics commissioner, Wilkinson had well-known connections to the Conservative party.
But Redford dismissed some of Wilkinson’s critical findings in relation to reports about her ethical behaviour and that of Edmonton Tory MLA Peter Sandhu.
In a year-end interview with CBC News, Redford continued to insist she had not made the decision to give a potentially lucrative tobacco-litigation contract to a consortium of law firms, which included a Calgary firm with close personal and political ties. But Wilkinson’s investigation found Redford had made the decision.
“Premier Redford has no insight into the fact that what she did was wrong,” Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said.
Redford also claimed it was her party that called for a review by Wilkinson after CBC News broke the story in late November 2012. But Wilkinson’s report specifically states he conducted his review following complaints first by the Liberals, and subsequently by the Wildrose. There is no mention of the Tories seeking a review.
Redford’s press secretary Neala Barton did not respond to a request from CBC News for proof the Conservatives sought the review.
Redford denied Sandhu breached ethics act
Another Wilkinson investigation found Edmonton Conservative MLA Peter Sandhu had breached the provincial Conflicts of Interest Act six times, although the commissioner decided not to sanction Sandhu. In a recent scrum with reporters, Redford disputed Wilkinson’s finding.
“That is your interpretation of the decision,” Redford said, adding that, “if I read the ethics commissioner’s report, he very clearly said that Peter Sandhu did the right thing. And from our perspective, that is important.”
Sherman said that by contradicting the ethics commissioner’s findings on Sandhu, she is rewarding “bad behaviour.
“Her style of governing is consistent with those who have been in power far too long and are out of touch with the reality of the people they are supposed to serve,” Sherman said.
Barton declined to explain how Redford came to conclude Sandhu had not breached the act.