Former Minister of Finance, Ron Liepert delivers the Budget speech at the Alberta Legislature on Feb. 9, 2012.
Credits: PERRY MAH/QMI AGENCY
While the Wildrose official opposition party smells something rotten, Liepert told QMI Agency there's no conflict in his new post with Canadian Strategy Group.
"There's certainly nothing unethical about it -- by law I'm prohibited from dealing with companies that had, quote, ‘significant official dealings' end of quote, with the portfolios I held in the last year," he said.
Those client companies would had to have had "significant" dealings in order to breach the cooling-off period, he said.
The former Tory finance minister was previously energy minister, and before that responsible for education in a lustrous eight-year career in the Alberta legislature. His last major project was a record $42 billion budget for the province.
As a senior advisor at CSG, he will open the firm's Calgary office.
Liepert is putting too fine a line on an ethical dilemma, Wildrose deputy house leader Shayne Saskiw said.
"It's hard to believe that Liepert would not use high-placed connections with long-time PC insiders to not lobby the government he has been part of for decades," Saskiw said.
"This is how the revolving door system of soft landings works after 41 years of the same party in power. But that's why the conflict of interest legislation needs to be strengthened and the office of the ethics commissioner needs to have the teeth to enforce the law.
"Liepert has a close relationship with the premier and this government. We hope the ethics commissioner takes a closer look at this case."
Doing business with the government has changed since he was elected in 2004, Liepert said.
"When I was elected, industry went about its business and government was rarely a consideration," he said.
Regulatory and environmental changes in the past decade or so have brought new connections for industry and government, Liepert said.
The experience he gained in eight years in government resulted in a transferable knowledge he believes will be beneficial for his clients, he said.
"(For a) CEO of a company that makes widgets and wants to start a plant but faces regulatory barriers, I think I can provide advice on how to negotiate or navigate through those barriers," Liepert said.
"When you're in elected office you see a need. This is one need I view that's clearly there."