Friday, 18 March 2011

Harper asks RCMP to investigate former top advisor

Harper asks RCMP to investigate his former top adviser
Stephen Harper has asked the RCMP to investigate the activities of one of his former aides who allegedly used his position to offer access to the Prime Minister and his staff.

Bruce Carson, who is listed as the executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment and the vice-chair of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, was once one of Mr. Harper’s closest advisers.

The Prime Minister’s Office asked the Mounties to look into allegations of influence-peddling this week as the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) was preparing an investigative report about Mr. Carson.

... The APTN has been looking into the activities of Mr. Carson and planned to air a segment revealing what it had learned on March 25 on a show called APTN Investigates. The date of the broadcast has not been changed despite the fact that the police are now involved. The network says it has obtained correspondence to show that Mr. Carson lobbied Indian Affairs and Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office on behalf of an Ottawa-based water company. The water company was apparently attempting to land contracts to sell water-filtration systems to native reserves with severe water-quality problems.
The Ottawa Citizen:
A former top adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper was lobbying the Indian Affairs Department earlier this year for a water filtration company involved in a multi-million dollar deal in which his fiancée, a former upscale call girl from Ottawa, stood to gain a lucrative commission.

... Indian Affairs officials confirmed Thursday that Carson, who is not registered as a lobbyist, met with John Duncan’s ministerial staff on Jan. 11. He had left the PMO in February 2009.
Paul Wells describes Carson as one of Harper's most trusted and well-liked advisors, and links to a 2008 profile of Carson.
Officially Harper's legislative assistant, his true stature is better reflected by the fact that he fills in as chief of staff when Ian Brodie is away from Ottawa. (At the time this article was being written, with Brodie on vacation, Carson was running the shop.) "He's Harper's grey-haired sage," according to one veteran Conservative strategist. "The PM trusts him implicitly." Other insiders confirm that Carson's long experience and extensive personal contacts with old-school Tories are regarded as invaluable. But it's not his institutional memory or seasoned perspective that have most enhanced Carson's reputation--it's his ability to take on tough files that demand concentrated work. "Bruce is our mechanic," says a Harper confidant. "He can fix anything."

Well, maybe not anything. Back in 2006, Carson was loaned to then environment minister Ron Ambrose when her handling of the government's high-profile climate change strategy was spinning out of control. The intervention wasn't enough to save Ambrose, who was later shuffled out of Environment to sink from sight as intergovernmental affairs minister. But Carson wasn't blamed. Established on the file, he stuck with it to play a key behind-the-scenes role as an architect of Environment Minister John Baird's bid last spring to succeed where Ambrose had stumbled in crafting a plausible global warming strategy.

In that role, Carson appeared on the radar screens of powerful industry lobbyists, particularly in the oil and gas sector, who are worried about how any emissions regulations could hit their bottom lines. An Ottawa consultant with Tory credentials sees Carson brokering among cabinet ministers who represent sometimes conflicting interests on the climate change issue. "In virtually all of the negotiations among [Industry Minister] Jim Prentice, [Natural Resources Minister] Gary Lunn, and Baird," said the consultant, "Bruce has been at the table."

Carson's close working relationship with Prentice, the influential chairman of the cabinet's operations committee, is crucial. When Prentice was Indian affairs minister prior to last summer's cabinet shuffle, Carson became the key behind-the-scenes architect of a new system for settling what are called "specific" native land claims. While Indian Affairs has never cracked the top echelon of Harper priorities, the portfolio is seen as strategically key. Having taken the controversial step of scrapping Liberal prime minister Paul Martin's multi-billion-dollar Kelowna accord, the Conservatives decided they needed at least one significant accomplishment in their relationship with native leaders to hang in the window. Carson delivered it.

Remarkably, Carson has played his mechanic's role on files like climate change and land claims without giving up day-to-day prominence in Harper's Parliament Hill operation. Along with Keith Beardsley, in charge of "issues management" in the PMO, Carson runs question period preparation. Not bad for a guy who not long ago looked like a relic from a previous Tory era.
He's the chair of the Federal-Provincial-Oil and Gas Industry Working Group on Climate Change.

No comments:

Post a Comment