After receiving $41.3 million in exclusive government contracts over a 10 year period, Highwood left $5.3 million in unpaid bills and applied for bankruptcy protection before closing its doors last November. At the same time Highwood was receiving these government contracts, its owner, Barry Styles, was a key player in Progressive Conservative election campaigns.
Since the early 1990s, Styles was involved in the election campaigns of former Premier Ralph Klein, and most recently Ed Stelmach‘s election campaign in March 2008. The day before the Auditor General’s announced his intentions to investigate, Klein defended Highwood, stating that the government should “stay out of it and let the private sector deal with it.“
In October 2008, Simon Kiss wrote a thoughtful explanation of precisely what happened in a guest post that summarizes the history of Highwood and its connections to the governing PCs. He has followed up on the recent news on his blog.