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Politics Today: You know Alberta’s small when watchdogs testify at each other’s hearings

Alberta Premier Alison Redford sees her mandate as pursuing “progressive social change” with an eye on the purse-strings.


Politics Today* is your daily guide to some of the stories we're watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail's team of political reporters.

You know Alberta's small when watchdogs testify at each other's hearings

Premier Alison Redford's Progressive Conservative government is now facing tough questions about its conduct on three fronts: a campaign donation investigation involving Edmonton billionaire Daryl Katz, conflict of interest allegations against the Premier, and an ongoing health-care probe into queue jumping.

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Pundits and opposition parties have suggested it is evidence of a comfy government catering to a coterie of insiders. The Tories have sometimes dismissed the concerns, arguing in a province this small (population about 3.7 million) and a Tory dynasty this long (42 years and counting), everyone seems to be connected to the governing party.

When the quasi-judicial preferential access inquiry, which was ordered by Ms. Redford after months of criticism, invites witnesses on Thursday, that peculiar collision of worlds will be on display.

Set to testify is Neil Wilkinson, the former chairman of the now defunct Capital Health Region. He is now Alberta's ethics commissioner and is currently investigating allegations that Ms. Redford selected her former husband's law firm to handle a massive tobacco lawsuit on behalf of the province, and is therefore in a conflict of interest. Ms. Redford has denied the accusations.

- Dawn Walton in Calgary

For the Wynne

And in other Wilkinson news, former Ontario environment minister John Wilkinson (no relation, as far as I know) is expected to announce this morning he will co-chair Kathleen Wynne's campaign for Ontario Liberal leader. According to the Globe's Adam Radwanski, that could be coupled with fellow candidate Glen Murray dropping out and throwing his support behind Ms. Wynne. If so, it would give her campaign some extra momentum heading into delegate selection meetings this weekend and the convention itself at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the current premier will file an application today with the Ontario Labour Relations Board to block a threatened strike by the province's teachers.

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Ask me anything

Federal Liberal leadership contender Martha Hall Findlay is conducting a Q&A with users of reddit's Canadian politics section this afternoon. The big idea is to attract Canadians who aren't party members to join the Liberal party's new supporter class – the membership-lite that allows one to vote for the Liberal leadership without paying your full dues.

"Supporter category allows a lot of people who may be hesitant to join the Liberal party ... to participate the person who they think would be the best alternative to Mr. Harper," Ms. Hall Findlay said in an interview.

And with a policy-heavy campaign, she thinks she will have special appeal to the readers of /r/CanadaPolitics.

If you'd rather watch me tell you about it than read me, here's a video.

First nations, take two

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In yesterday's post, we mentioned that Shawn Atleo and other first nations leaders would be spelling out their agenda for Friday's meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of cabinet. That news conference was cancelled at the last minute, but has been rescheduled for today. However, prospects for the meeting aren't looking too good.

* Political Points or Politics Today? Or something else? Since this daily morning feature started in December, we haven't settled on what to call it. If you like one of those names – or have another suggestion – let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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