Monday, 13 June 2011

G8 spending in Clement's riding left ‘no paper trail'

G8 spending in Clement's riding left ‘no paper trail'
Senior Conservative officials broke federal rules to shower $50-million on the riding of the minister now overseeing Ottawa’s austerity plan, according to the final audit of a G8 program that fuelled opposition charges of pork-barrel politics.

In her last report, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said the funding for the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was approved by Parliament under the guise of a border initiative. The money was then distributed to projects in the riding of Treasury Board President Tony Clement without any input from civil servants, in a clear breach of federal policies dealing with transparency and accountability.

“It is very unusual and troubling. There is no paper trail behind the selection of the 32 projects,” said John Wiersema, the interim Auditor-General who recently took over from a retired Ms. Fraser. “I, personally, in my career in auditing, have not encountered a situation like that.”

Mr. Clement showed up at a news conference to defend the spending in his riding, but Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird physically shielded him from questions at times. The two stood behind a podium and single microphone, and Mr. Baird, who was in charge of Ottawa’s infrastructure program when the spending was approved, often fielded questions the media directed at Mr. Clement.

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