CALGARY - Alberta Premier Alison Redford says the conflict of interest allegations around the awarding of a tobacco contract to her ex-husband's law firm are nothing more than nasty politics.
Redford says her split from Robert Hawkes happened more than 20 years ago and, when she sees him, she doesn't even think of him as her former husband.
Hawkes is a partner in one of the law firms leading Alberta's $10-billion lawsuit against Big Tobacco.
Documents show that as justice minister in 2010, Redford recommended which firm should get the contract — a conflict in the eyes of the opposition.
Redford has maintained it was her successor who made the decision on the contract, even though bureaucrats wrote emails suggesting the deal was done while she was still on the job.
The Opposition Wildrose has accused Redford of deliberately misleading Albertans on the file and the NDP has asked her to step aside as premier while the matter is investigated.
Redford fought back on Thursday saying, "Quite frankly, since the election, opposition parties have created personal attacks on me, my family, people I have been related to," the Edmonton Journal quoted.
"Unfortunately that seems to be the tenor of political discussion in this province. I will not stoop to that. I don’t think Albertans want this.”
But the opposition parties want none of it and continue an assault on the beleaguered premier, the likes of which have no comparison in recent years.
"You can’t call someone a liar in the House, but it’s clear that the premier lied about her involvement in this case and it’s clear that the government is in full damage control,” said Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason in The Edmonton Sun, after he called the premier a “liar” to reporters during a media room scrum.
“The evidence is clear, she should step aside from the premier’s job until this matter can be investigated.”
Not ones to be outdone, the Wildrose Party also questioned the premier's moral standing after the accusations and suggested the episode can cost the PCs the government.
"Let's face it, this is something that could likely defeat the premier either before the election or by the next election," canada.com quoted MLA Rob Anderson as saying.
"We're talking about $10-billion in litigation to her ex-husband's law firm."
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