11/28/2012 03:11 EST

Alison Redford Tobacco Lawsuit: Premier Didn't Push For Lucrative Government Contract For Ex, Says Denis

EDMONTON - Alberta's justice minister is dismissing media reports that Premier Alison Redford personally intervened to ensure her ex-husband's law firm received lucrative government business.

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis says to his knowledge Redford did not step in when she was justice minister to see that the government's multimillion-dollar tobacco lawsuit was awarded to a firm that employs her ex-husband Robert Hawkes.

A report by the CBC points to a December 2010 memo from then-justice minister Redford to her senior officials saying that of all three shortlisted firms, the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers consortium was the best.

Hawkes is a partner in one of the firms in that consortium.

Denis says he hasn't seen the memo.

One of Canada’s top experts in conflict of interest told the CBC Redford was in a clear conflict and should have not made that decision.

Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, told the CBC Alison Redford should have recused herself from the decision-making process in the awarding of a contract to her ex-husband's law firm while she was justice minister.

“The minister of justice, as she then was, Alison Redford, in my view behaved unethically and possibly illegally by not recusing herself from making a decision in which she had a private interest, and was in a conflict of interest situation,” said Prof. Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba.

Denis also says Hawkes is not tied directly to the lawsuit and that conflict of interest rules don't apply to ex-spouses.

Twitter was abuzz with those calling out the Premier regarding the allegations.


Alison Redford And Her Ex: Reaction

This is the second time in as many weeks that a negative light has been cast on the premier's associates.

Last weeks, the opposition Wildrose Party revealed that Lynn Redford, the premier's sister, was reimbursed almost $3,400 for travel, accommodations, tickets, liquor and bug spray at Tory events between 2005 and 2008 while she was a health executive in the former Calgary health region.

She also billed taxpayers for $141 to sign up and attend the Alberta Liberal party general meeting in 2005.

All health regions were collapsed into one superboard in 2009, and Lynn Redford now works there as a senior executive in charge of special projects.

The Wildrose party has asked chief electoral officer Brian Fjeldheim to investigate.

-With Files From CP.

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