Well, it’s all over. Alberta’s Premier, Alison Redford has been cleared of any conflict of interest; and of misleading the legislative assembly regarding her role in awarding the lawyering contract for a ten billion dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry.
Gene Zwozdesky, her party colleague and House Speaker, has ruled that her declaration that she did not make the decision to award the contract to her ex-husband; still close friend; political mentor; and campaign contributor’s law firm, is perfectly reasonable, because; her mid December 2010, written declaration, that her ex-husbands firm “will be the best firm to represent Albertans”, didn’t necessarily, actually, or positively mean, “will be”; but may have meant “could someday be”, or possibly someday “would be”.
But, even if you drink that pipeline full of Fool-Aid, a problem remains. Until mid February 2011, Alison Redford was Alberta’s Justice Minister; and, between December 22, 2012 and until her resignation; several of her Justice department officials – inexplicably interpreting “will be” to mean, “will be” – enthusiastically sent out several memos indicating that a decision had definitely been made.
One memo from December 22, 2010 between senior justice department officials says: “Call made to Karsten at the successful consortium”. (Carsten Jensen is a partner in the law firm with Redford’s ex-husband.)
Looking back, a January 13, 2011 Justice Department briefing document stated that; “Shortly before Christmas, Minister Redford selected the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers.” (her ex-husband’s firm) (underlines are mine).
What exactly does successful mean? What does selected mean? Does December 22nd qualify as “shortly before Christmas”? (How unequivocal do you have to be to be, um, unequivocal?)
Other inter-office memos discussing the “selection” were circulated; and at least one memo confirming the “selection” was sent to the “successful” consortium; and at least one each to the losers. And a lawyer from the “successful” consortium memo-ed the Justice Department saying that he was looking forward to working with them.
Anyway, Ms. Redford’s official’s puzzling inability to correctly parse, “will be”, could have put the government in jeopardy of a lawsuit by the unsuccessful bidding law firms. After all, prematurely telling them that they had lost the bid might have lead them to prematurely take their foot off the accelerator; or to have ceased – as I once heard it phrased in East Africa – “plowing the ground”; not that the political ground has ever been plowed in Progressive Conservative Alberta.
So there are questions to be asked.
In the two months between her mid December, 2010 memo, and her mid-February 2011 resignation to clear the way for a run at the leadership of the PC Party; did Justice Minister Redford ever inform her officials that a decision had not been made on the tobacco lawsuit contract; and to stop telling all and sundry that it had?
Were any of these officials that exhibited such flawed judgement in assuming that, “will be” probably means, “will be”, ever reprimanded?
If the lawsuit goes ahead, and the Alberta government wins; can those suffering from smoking related diseases, and the families of those who have died from such diseases, sue the government for profiteering from the sale of a product that they have just proven is a known killer?
IWUZ just wondering.