April 3, 2017 9:37 pm

Alison Redford cleared again over Alberta tobacco lawsuit

Alberta Premier Alison Redford announces her resignation in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday March 19, 2014. Another investigation has cleared former Alberta premier Alison Redford of wrongdoing on how she selected a law firm to sue tobacco companies on behalf of the province.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Another investigation has cleared former Alberta premier Alison Redford of wrongdoing on how she selected a law firm to sue tobacco companies on behalf of the province.

Redford was Alberta’s justice minister in 2010 when she chose a consortium of law firms that included a company that employed her former husband.

The $10-billion lawsuit is to recover smoking related health-care costs.

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An investigation in 2013 cleared Redford, but a second probe found the first review did not have access to all of the relevant documents.

Alberta’s ethics commissioner then asked her counterpart in British Columbia to investigate to determine if there should another investigation.

READ MORE: B.C. conflict commissioner to review investigation into Alison Redford tobacco file

In a report released Monday, Paul Fraser, B.C.’s acting ethics commissioner, says Redford did not break Alberta’s Conflict of Interest Act.

“I have found on a balance of probabilities that Ms. Redford did not improperly further another person’s private interest in making her decision and, therefore, did not breach the Conflicts of Interest Act,” the report says.

The report says Redford selected a consortium known as International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers (ITRL) to represent Alberta and that her former husband, Robert Hawkes, was a partner in one of the firms.

ITRL was selected out of three consortium applicants to handle the lawsuit.

Fraser says he focused on whether Redford’s decision improperly furthered Hawkes’ private interest.

READ MORE: Conflict of interest forces ethics commissioner to have BC counterpart weigh in on Redford matter

“In making the choice of counsel in the tobacco litigation, she used sensible and principled reasoning, based on cogent information she received in the briefing note from government officials and that she had collected in the course of her active tenure as Minister of Justice and Attorney General,” the report says.

In a statement, Alberta Justice Kathleen Ganley thanks Fraser for his work but offers little other comment.

“The report was just tabled in the house this afternoon, and we will be reviewing it,” she says.

The consortium remains in charge of the lawsuit.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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