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Alberta premier says report on Fort McMurray wildfire response is imminent

Rachel Notley told the legislature that two reports into the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire are coming, but the Opposition Wildrose party wants a judge-led public inquiry.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Rachel Notley told the legislature that two reports into the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire are coming, but the Opposition Wildrose party wants a judge-led public inquiry.

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told the legislature Thursday that two independent reports into the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire are imminent, but the Opposition Wildrose party was still calling for a judge-led public inquiry.

The fire in May 2016 forced out more than 80,000 people for a month and damaged or destroyed hundreds of structures. It's estimated that the total payout in insurance claims will be at least $3.8 billion.

Notley said it makes no sense to call for an inquiry at least until Albertans can assess the findings of the two reports.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said a public inquiry would ensure nothing is held back. He also said he has first-hand information about negligence during the response, but added he wouldn't reveal it for fear of compromising any inquiry.

"I've seen it on the ground. I'm not going to prejudice any report or come out with any pre-determinations or pre-judge this," said Jean, who represents the constituency of Fort McMurray-Conklin and lost his home in the fire.

Notley suggested the Opposition leader's approach was less about fact-finding and more about grandstanding.

"It is really quite ridiculous that (Jean) would be calling for a public inquiry before he's reviewed one single fact from either one of the two independent reports," Notley told the house.

"It really makes one question whether this is really about good policy or whether it's about politics."

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