Sunday, 3 April 2011

Tories face fresh accusations of patronage involving ex-premier's niece

Tories face fresh accusations of patronage involving ex-premier's niece
The Harper government is set to appoint the niece of a former Conservative premier to the board of Rights and Democracy — an arms-length agency struggling to restore an image battered by accusations of patronage and partisanship.

The revelation that Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has selected lawyer Katrine Giroux for the job follows a series of accusations over Conservative patronage appointments.

Ex-New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord, who was attending a campaign event with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday, acknowledged to The Canadian Press that he recommended Giroux, his niece through marriage. ...

Giroux is described on her Moncton law firm's website as having graduated from law school in 2006 and being called to the bar in Nova Scotia in 2007. She was appointed to the CPP and OAS review panel in 2008.

She is listed as an expert in civil litigation and property law. Her resume does not include any mention of international experience, other than an undergraduate exchange to France a decade ago. ...

The board of Rights and Democracy was criticized for repudiating small grants to Middle East rights groups it did not like, and firing several managers. The board and management responded that there were grave internal problems that needed to be fixed.

The House of Commons foreign affairs committee began investigating the organization in March 2010, following the sudden death by heart attack of former agency president Remy Beauregard after a testy January board meeting.

Beauregard's widow testified her husband was hounded to his death by new, government-appointed board members motivated by ideological differences with the agency's direction.

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