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News Brief

UCP Education Minister’s Donor Handed Big Contract To Produce Face Masks For Alberta Schools

CEO and founder of company awarded a sole-sourced contract was also a top donor to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange

Alberta’s United Conservative Party government handed a sole-sourced contract to produce face masks for Alberta school children to one of UCP Education Minister Adriana LaGrange’s top donors.

First reported by CBC News, the Alberta government’s recent $4.2 million contract to provide 1.7 million masks to Alberta’s schools was split with 90% of the work going to the American clothing company Old Navy and 10% going to IFR workwear, a company based in LaGrange’s Red Deer–North riding.

IFR’s CEO is Reg Radford, who donated thousands of dollars to LaGrange in 2019.

UCP donor awarded contract following non-competitive bid: According to the Cold Lake Sun, LaGrange said she was justified in giving one of her top donors a sole-sourced contract because the situation was “urgent”:

“Given the expediency required, the (Provincial Operations Centre has directly approached experienced, established vendors to fulfill personal protective equipment (PPE) needs for school reopenings. Government of Alberta contracting policies allow for this expedited process in urgent situations, as a standard request for proposal tendering process would not allow the government to fulfill our schools’ needs in the timely manner required.”

Jason Kenney promoted company last month: The sole-sourced contract was awarded shortly after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney toured the company’s Red Deer facility alongside LaGrange on July 18.

Kenney posed for photos with company representatives and praised IFR as “a great Alberta company” and a “good example of private sector initiative.”

Longtime donor: According to CBC News, in addition to Radford’s $2,000 donation to LaGrange in 2019, the CEO also gave $255 to Kenney’s 2017 UCP leadership campaign.

Prior to that, the Radford family reportedly donated a total of $3,600 to the former Progressive Conservative Party from 2006-2011. His company reportedly also donated over $7,000 over the years to the Progressive Conservative Association.

UCP donor’s company denies “cronyism”: Lyn Radford, a spokesperson for IFR, told CBC News that the company wanted to put to rest any suggestion that “cronyism” or “nepotism” played a role in the awarding of the contract.

“Of course we’re a business so we’re going to support political affiliations … we don’t know what the government’s done, but we can tell you, we submitted a quote to a third party. That party submits to the government.”

“We’re very up front, we’re very transparent, we’re a family business. You’d think they’d be glad Alberta companies are getting a small piece of it, anyways.”

[CBC  News]


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