Jim Prentice recused himself of sole-source contract Alberta government …

CALGARY — Alberta PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice says he recused himself from a sole-source contract the Alberta government awarded to his former employer late last year.

According to documents obtained by the National Post, the province paid $225,000 to CIBC World Markets to obtain advice on privatizing its land registries.

Mr. Prentice quit the federal Conservative cabinet in 2010 to join CIBC as a vice chairman and vice president; he left that job this year in a bid to replace former Progressive Conservative premier Alison Redford.

The CIBC contract was carried out between Dec. 5, 2013, and March 31, 2014. Manmeet Bhullar — the then-minister of Service Alberta who is now co-chair of Mr. Prentice’s leadership campaign — spearheaded the plan as part of an extensive results-based-budgeting review.

“In 2012, the Alberta government had requested the opinion from several banks about what to do with the land titles system because differing provinces were taking differing approaches,” Mr. Prentice said. “Some time in 2012, department officials reached out to [CIBC] and sought an opinion at that time about what was going on with other jurisdictions in Canada.

“I was not involved with the file at any time Manmeet Bhullar was the minister and I made it very clear that given my personal relationship with Manmeet Bhullar, I could not be involved with the file in any way.”

The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta passed a resolution during their Annual General Meeting in November of 2013 to seek professional and public consultation on the issue. After a cabinet shuffle, the current minister of Service Alberta, Doug Griffiths, halted moves toward privatization in May.

Lisa Elliott, a spokesperson with Service Alberta, said the contract was awarded to CIBC without a competitive process because CIBC is the province’s bank.

“There is a trade agreement exception that allows sole source contracts for [items that are] of a confidential or privileged nature,” she said. “There’s a large amount of information with the land titles office that was deemed to be confidential.”

Even though the privatization has been stopped, much of that report remains confidential, she said.

Opposition Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson said: “What I think about it is that it shows how much of a hypocrite [Jim Prentice] is. One of his first promises was to end sole source contracts.”

Mr. Prentice is the presumed front-runner in the leadership race. Party members will cast the first ballot on Sept. 6.

National Post

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