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Alberta Premier faces ethics probe over tobacco lawsuit conflict allegation

Alberta Premier Alison Redford, left, scrums with the media following her meeting with B.C. Premier Christy Clark to discuss the Northern Gateway pipeline in Calgary on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta's ethics commissioner is investigating a conflict of interest allegation involving Premier Alison Redford over a government lawsuit filed against Big Tobacco.

It's alleged that Ms. Redford, as then justice minister, awarded the lawsuit contract to a group of law firms that included her former husband, Robert Hawkes.

Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says Ms. Redford is in a potential conflict of interest and asked the ethics commissioner to investigate.

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In a letter to Mr. Sherman, Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson writes that he will investigate and has informed Ms. Redford of his decision.

Ms. Redford told the Alberta legislature in November that accusations she was in conflict of interest over the tobacco litigation contract are absolutely inaccurate and false.

The lawsuit is seeking to recover $10-billion from tobacco companies for the estimated cost of caring for patients dating back to the 1950s.

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