Sunday, 27 March 2011

More on Bruce Carson, Harper's former acting chief of staff

Paula Simons, writing in the Edmonton Journal:
Let's start with two questions.

How did Bruce Carson, 66, come to be appointed as the executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment, a federally-funded think-tank that links academics from the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge?

How did Carson come to be named, only this January, to the Alberta government's "expert panel," which is supposed to create a world-class environmental monitoring system for Alberta's oilsands?

Carson, after all, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in the 1980s for theft and fraud in relation to the misappropriation of funds from both his law firm and his clients. (The think-tank website boasts of Carson's two legal degrees, without mentioning that he was disbarred by the Upper Canada Law Society in 1980.) More to the point, perhaps, Carson is a former senior policy adviser to Stephen Harper, and a federal Conservative campaign strategist who has been instrumental in structuring the federal government's pro-oilsands PR strategy, and in serving as an adviser to CAPP, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

He was appointed to the federally created, federally-funded think-tank in 2008 while he was actually working in Harper's office, and he continued to do campaign strategy work and policy consultation for the Conservative party and the Harper government even after he was named the school's executive director. It's a degree of political consanguinity that undermines the credibility and academic integrity of the think-tank, which is supposed to be positioning Alberta as a world leader in "green" energy development.

Then, this January, Rob Renner, Alberta's environment minister, named Carson as one of the 12 experts hand-picked to come up with a way to monitor environmental impacts of the oilsands. How a person convicted of theft and fraud, who was also advising CAPP and the federal government on how to put a positive "spin" on oilsands development, was to add credibility to Alberta's environmental monitoring practices isn't clear.

... Here's the third question. Why did it take the words "escort" and "nude photos" to get people--including me--asking the first two questions?

Carson penned lobbying report, then found loophole
“I really don’t want the lobbying commissioner sort of going crazy over my involvement in this,” Carson told [APTN] in a series of interviews prior to the RCMP being called in. “This would be like one-tenth of 1 per cent of my time, so we’re all right.”

Despite setting up meetings for the firm with Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office and plans to employ Environment Minister Peter Kent in his business plan, the Harper confidant maintained he would be shielded from any lobbying probe under a well-known loophole in the federal laws, according to APTN.

A chink in the Harper government’s flagship accountability armour allows former government officials to flog their services or products on Parliament Hill, despite the five-year ban, for those whose lobbying works out to less than 20 per cent of their total workload.

PM’s ex-adviser Carson has chequered past
Bruce Carson went bankrupt, with thousands of dollars of debt, before becoming one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s closest advisers.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show Mr. Carson declared bankruptcy in 1993, then was hounded by creditors again in 2002 – shortly before going to work as then-opposition leader Harper’s director of policy and research.

He declared a debt of $103,359 in the 1990s, and $369,000 nine years ago, the records show. No further information is given in the bankruptcy documents. ...

Minutes from a July 16, 1981, meeting of the society's discipline committee shed light on why Carson was disbarred.

“He had forged the signature of the president of a corporation and misappropriated over $15,000 belonging to the corporation for which he acted,” the document says.

“[He] forged the signature of a client from whom he misappropriated over $4,000; and misappropriated $4,900 belonging to another client.”

Mr. Carson reinvented himself as a constitutional expert and became a political insider, working under Progressive Conservative prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, as well as Ontario Premier Mike Harris, before going to work for Harper when he became leader of the opposition.

Mr. Carson remained with Harper after the Conservatives won the 2006 election. Around political Ottawa, he was known as “the Mechanic” for his ability to fix tricky situations.

Senate Majority Leader Marjory LeBreton underscored Mr. Carson's worth to Mr. Harper's office during a November, 2006 Senate debate, calling him “a valued employee of the Prime Minister's Office.”

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