Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Harper on ex-PMO adviser’s rap sheet: ‘I wouldn’t have hired him’

Ex-Harper adviser disclosed entire criminal record to PMO: lawyer
Bruce Carson was convicted on five counts of fraud, three more than previously known, and received court-ordered psychiatric treatment before becoming one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's closest advisers.

And his lawyer told The Canadian Press that Mr. Carson disclosed his entire criminal record during a security check that was required to become a senior staffer in the Prime Minister's Office.

The latest revelations raise new questions about Mr. Harper's judgment in hiring Mr. Carson as his chief policy analyst and troubleshooter – roles Mr. Carson played until leaving the PMO in 2008. ...

During Mr. Carson's stint at the PMO, it was publicly known that he had been jailed and disbarred by the Law Society of Upper Canada in the early 1980s for two counts of defrauding clients.

But court documents uncovered by The Canadian Press show he had another run-in with the law in 1990, while he was working as a researcher for the Library of Parliament.

He was charged with defrauding a Budget Car and Truck Rental of a 1989 Toyota vehicle. He was also charged with defrauding the Bank of Montreal and the Toronto-Dominion Bank of sums exceeding $1,000 each.

In June 1990, Mr. Carson pleaded guilty to all three counts and received a suspended sentence and 24 months probation on condition that he “continue treatment at the R.O.H. (Royal Ottawa Hospital)” and make restitution of $4,000 within 23 months to the car rental company. ...

Since turning over the lobbying allegations to the RCMP, the PMO has severed all ties with Carson, who had been serving as head of the federally-funded Canada School of Energy and the Environment in Calgary since leaving the PMO. He has taken a leave of absence from that job.

Privately, Mr. Carson's friends are upset that Mr. Harper has ostracized his long-time adviser, without waiting for the results of the police investigation, and has refused to frankly discuss what he knew about Mr. Carson's past and why he felt Mr. Carson deserved a second chance. ...

In 1993, documents show Mr. Carson declared bankruptcy, with a debt of $103,000. As recently as 2002 — just before he went to work as then-opposition leader Harper's director of policy and research — he was in debt to the tune of $369,000 and was being hounded by creditors. In the latter case, Mr. Carson has told The Canadian Press that he arranged to pay back his creditors over a period of time. ...

Mr. Carson's financial woes were well known among his former colleagues at the Library of Parliament's research branch. Five former colleagues, who spoke separately to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity, said he sought to borrow money repeatedly.

In one instance recalled by several former co-workers, Mr. Carson told a colleague he wanted to take his kids on a trip but was having financial difficulties due to his divorce. The colleague was persuaded to allow Mr. Carson to use his credit card number as surety for renting a car.

Mr. Carson ran up several thousand worth of charges on the number, maxing out his colleague's card.
Harper on ex-PMO adviser’s rap sheet: ‘I wouldn’t have hired him’
Stephen Harper says he wouldn’t have installed former adviser Bruce Carson in his Prime Minister’s Office if he had been aware of his past.

The Conservative Leader says he was never told of Mr. Carson’s full criminal record.

... The Privy Council Office said it cannot discuss what Mr. Carson revealed when he applied for the job, insisting the Privacy Act prevents such disclosure.

PCO said it is the RCMP that conducts the checks, but a spokesman for the RCMP, Sergeant Julie Gagnon, said that while the RCMP does the checks, it’s the PCO that manages the process, and referred all questions back there.

I'm a bit mystified about this Canada School for the Energy and the Environment that Carson runs (Carson is now on a leave of absence, he hasn't been fired). It appears to be a federally-funded institution that defends Canada's lack of a climate-change strategy, which fits in with Carson's earlier responsibilities.

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