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NDP questions sole-source contract linked to Alberta public inquiry

The Alberta legislature pictured in Edmonton Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.
The Alberta legislature pictured in Edmonton Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Wes Rosa/Global News

NDP MLA Heather Sweet would like Alberta’s ethics commissioner to review a sole-source contract given to Dentons by the public inquiry being headed by Commissioner Steve Allan, whose son is a partner in the law firm.

The contract, which is listed on the provincial government’s public disclosure website, is worth $905,000 and is for work done between July 15, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

“This is a direct relationship between the director of the inquiry and his son,” Sweet said.

“He’s a partner in this firm, which means he gets any type of financial benefit from any contracts or services that are provided on behalf of his firm.”

READ MORE: Kenney government launches inquiry into foreign-funded groups that criticize Alberta’s oil industry

The public inquiry has an overall budget of $2.5 million, and is looking into what the UCP government calls a foreign-funded campaign targeting Alberta’s energy industry.

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The UCP government says the justice department would apply all relevant government rules before paying any expenses.

“We have been advised by officials that they are not aware of any conflict that would prohibit the inquiry from contracting with Dentons for services,” Jonah Mozeson, the senior press secretary for Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, said in a statement.

Mozeson said Toby Allan works in a different department at Dentons and isn’t involved in any way with the inquiry.

“Large law firms are regularly required to construct ethical walls between clients in order to ensure no conflicts of interest,” he said. “This is standard practice and we assume it would be followed in this case if necessary.”

Alberta premier launches $2.5-million inquiry into oil opponents
Alberta premier launches $2.5-million inquiry into oil opponents