Alberta government did not violate ethics law in second firing of Deena Hinshaw

Alberta Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler found no evidence that Premier Danielle Smith or her staff compelled Alberta Health Services (AHS) to revoke Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s job offer earlier this year.

Alberta government did not violate ethics law in second firing of Deena Hinshaw
THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods and THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith nor government staff violated ethics law in the lead-up to the second firing of Dr. Deena Hinshaw in as many years.

AHS senior executive Dr. Braden Manns claimed to have quit in protest of political interference in her hiring process, as did Indigenous Wellness Core (IWC) medical director Dr. Esther Tailfeathers.

But Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler found no evidence that Smith or her staff compelled Alberta Health Services (AHS) to revoke Hinshaw’s job offer, reads a letter.

Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health received a letter of employment with the IWC in April but under a shroud of secrecy, she never worked a single day.

Trussler announced the findings in a December 18 letter to Health Minister Adriana LaGrange that follows allegations that Smith and former AHS chief executive Dr. John Cowell interfered.

“The evidence showed that Dr. Hinshaw’s employment was terminated through proper process,” penned Trussler. “Although he had input on the decision, I found no evidence that Dr. Cowell directed the termination of Dr. Hinshaw’s employment.” 

However, Manns claimed that Cowell took exception to Hinshaw’s hiring calling it “a major problem.” Manns wrote that Cowell also phoned the premier directly while they walked together one day.

“After your call with the premier, you and I participated in a group meeting. In that meeting, you stated that the premier is firm that there can be no hiring of Dr. Hinshaw,” Manns said in his resignation letter.

“In response, I expressed my concern that the premier was reaching down four levels into AHS and instructing us to rescind an approved contract after a comprehensive search and selection committee process,” he added.

In her letter, Trussler noted several complaints against the premier on allegations that she interfered in the hiring process of Hinshaw. “However, given the evidence in the investigation of Dr. Cowell, I did not pursue an investigation of the premier,” she said.

On Monday, Smith told reporters she “talked with [Cowell] on a weekly basis,” specifically on the prospects of major restructuring efforts at AHS. She clarified its new board and CEO “will make those decisions” on who they hire.

Cowell served as AHS chief executive from November 2022 until recently after Smith fired the previous AHS board, including Himshaw. He vacated his position when Smith installed a new board of directors for AHS last month.

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