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Harper asks RCMP to probe former advisor’s attempts to land First Nations water deals
By Kenneth Jackson and Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
APTN National News
16 mars 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked the RCMP to investigate the activities of one of his longest serving advisors, APTN National News has learned.
Harper’s office sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner William Elliot Wednesday asking him to probe the activities of Bruce Carson after the Prime Minister’s Office received information as part of an APTN investigation into Carson’s activities.
Correspondence obtained by APTN shows Carson lobbied Indian Affairs and Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office on behalf of an Ottawa-based water company. The water company was attempting to land contracts to sell water filtration systems to First Nations reserves with severe water-quality problems.
The full details of the story will be aired next week by APTN Investigates.
Carson also claimed in an email, obtained by APTN to have spoken to the prime minister about the appointment of Duncan the day before the B.C. MP was named to the Indian Affairs portfolio in the Aug. 6 cabinet shuffle.
“Yesterday afternoon our office became aware of the existence of materials in the possession of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network,” wrote Raymond Novak, the prime minister’s principal secretary. “These materials contain troubling details about recent actions and claims made by Mr. Bruce Carson, a former employee of the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Novak also wrote the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying asking for an investigation into Carson’s activities.
In the letter to the Ethics commissioner, Novak wrote that the information shown the PMO “may provide evidence” of Carson having breached two sections of the Conflict of Interest Act.
“Our brief examination provides us with reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Carson may be in contravention of the Act,” wrote Novak. “It appears Carson may have attempted to take advantage of his previous position in the Prime Minister’s Office to advance his own private interests, and may have given advice to individuals or organizations using information that was obtained in his capacity as an employee of our office.”
Carson is currently the head of the Canada School of Energy and Environment, which received $15 million in federal government funding.
Carson also chairs the Federal-Provincial-Oil and Gas Industry Working Group on Climate Change and is a member of the Thermal Electricity Task Force on Climate Change.
Carson was a senior policy advisor to the prime minister until 2008. He also worked for Harper as a director of research while the Conservatives were in opposition.
In one email, obtained by APTN, Carson wrote two officials with the company, H2O Pros, claiming he had spoken with the prime minister on Aug. 5 about the pending appointment of Duncan to the Indian Affairs portfolio.
“I spoke with the PM last nite and with (Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn) Atleo-the movement of John Duncan to INAC does not slow anything down (sic),” wrote Carson, in an email dated Aug. 6 and received at 7:01 a.m. “Both Shawn and I know John very well-and I will be calling the new Minister this morning-so it is still full steam ahead.”
Carson told APTN on camera that he lied in the email, but that he had spoken to “someone,” but did not elaborate.
Carson was disbarred and jailed in the 1980s for defrauding law clients.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying the prime minister has never “spoken or been lobbied by Bruce Carson on any of these matters.”
The PMO also said that the “Ethics Commissioner was fully consulted at the time of his departure from the Prime Minister’s Office and signed off on his employment at the Canada School of Energy and Environment.”
The statement also referred to the five year ban on lobbying by former political staff.
“The laws are clear and they must be respected. Those who do not respect them must and should face the full force of the law,” said the statement.
Liberal NDP MP David McGuinty said the prime minister needed to come clean in his relationship with Carson.
“These are very deeply, deeply troubling allegations,” said McGuinty. “This is a story that has to be examined very closely and the prime minister how has to explain his relationship with Carson.”
Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin said once the full details of the Carson affair surfaces it could topple the Conservatives.
“This is the kind of thing that brings governments down,” said Martin. “Bruce Carson has been a fixture around Ottawa for as long as I can remember in the office of the Official Opposition in the PMO this is a major backroom boy.”