By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 27, 2012 - 0 Comments
The RCMP has charged the former PMO advisor with influence peddling.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police “A” Division Commercial Crime Section has charged Bruce Carson, age 66, of Ottawa, with one count of Fraud on the Government, also known as influence peddling, contrary to Section 121(1)(d) of the Criminal Code. Carson is alleged to have accepted a commission for a third party in connection with a business matter relating to the government.
To today’s charge, the PMO responds as follows.
Immediately after being informed of these allegations last year, our government referred the matter to the RCMP Commissioner, the Ethics Commissioner and the Lobbying Commissioner. Any individual who doesn’t respect our laws must face their full force as well as the consequences that come with them.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister will meet with the mayor of Toronto tomorrow afternoon in Scarborough. The Star has comment from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“We’re obviously concerned about gun crime,” MacDougall said when asked about expectations for the meeting. “That’s why we’re trying to crack down on it by passing new laws with stiffer sentences. The mayor expressed an interest in hearing what exactly the federal government was doing, both on the crime front and the stuff that (Immigration Minister Jason) Kenney was talking about last week,” MacDougall said.
“The Prime Minister is always happy to meet with elected officials to talk about what the government is doing, so we’ll run through some of the stuff that we’ve passed, some of the stuff that is still before the House and answer any questions he has,” MacDougall said.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Courtesy of Newstalk 1010′s John Downs, here is audio of Rob Ford attempting to explain his comments about wanting to sit down with the Prime Minister to discuss immigration law. Apparently it has “nothing to do particularly with immigration or where you come from.” Rather, the Toronto mayor wants to know whether it is possible to bar anyone convicted of a gun-related crime, regardless of their citizenship status, from living in Toronto.
I don’t care if you’re Canadian born, I don’t care if you’re a Canadian citizen, I don’t care if you’re an immigrant and I don’t care if you’re a refugee. It doesn’t matter to me. If you’re convicted of a gun crime, I do not want you living in the city. And the only way I can find out whether that’s legal or not or whether we can enforce that is through the PMO. And that’s what I’m doing.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
I asked Megan Leslie for an NDP response to the general issue of wind turbines and the recent announcement of a Health Canada study. Here is what she wrote in reply.
The NDP is very supportive of renewable energy technologies. However, as with any project, there needs to be true community consultation. There is tremendous insight and expertise at the community level, and we need to tap into this resource.
As we have said with the oil sands, all energy sources in Canada should be developed in a way that is safe for Canadians and for our environment. This study is a good example of how proper scientific evidence, led by public research, can help people understands the impact of these systems. More of these studies should be conducted to better understand the impact of other sources that have raised public concern, like cellphone towers. The NDP supports the use of science and evidence in decision making, which is in stark contrast to the way Conservatives have been making their decisions lately.
Speaking of evidence, it’s odd to see the Conservatives funding studies on green energy technology while at the same time they’re killing environmental assessments for fossil fuel projects. Why the double standard? While the health and environmental concerns of large wind turbines merit study, the huge problems of smog and the thousands of deaths directly attributed to air quality, mercury contamination, and climate change, all deserve immediate and decisive action, and this government has provided neither. And where are the long-promised studies of oil sands development on the First Nations downstream of the oil sands?
When the PMO directly calls the group lobbying for this delay, I can’t help but think that this is a crass political move to undermine the development of renewables. I don’t remember the PMO calling anyone in Ft Chipewan about their health concerns living downstream, or any of my constituents with concerns about cell towers in their neighbourhoods.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s office explains that the minister requested the study after hearing from MPs—primarily from Ontario—that constituents had concerns about the health impacts of wind turbines. The department had apparently been working with the provinces and territories to establish voluntary guidelines for “set backs,” but that process concluded without firm decisions.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 5:17 PM - 0 Comments
Per the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Julian Fantino moves to International Cooperation to replace Bev Oda and Bernard Valcourt becomes the associate minister of defence, replacing Mr. Fantino at that spot.
And per this tweet from the Prime Minister’s director of communications, that’s it.
So much for all that cabinet speculation.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 9:56 AM - 0 Comments
Christian Paradis says the Conservatives are prepared to work with whoever the people of Quebec elect.
“No matter what government is elected, we’re going to work with the Government of Quebec,” said Paradis, who was joined by Harper at a BBQ near Quebec City for the province’s annual Fete nationale. “We can’t always be in harmony with the province of Quebec, but I think you need to do is identify our common interests and need to grow.”
The Prime Minister’s Office says it’s up to Quebeckers.
Andrew MacDougall, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, warned not to get too excited about Mr. Paradis’s comments: “This is all hypothetical as there isn’t even an election. When that time does come, it will be up to Quebeckers to decide who to vote for.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Liberal MP Gerry Byrne alleges Conservative MP Andrew Saxton is trying to ensure senior departmental officials don’t testify during committee hearings into the Auditor General’s F-35 findings.
“His motion is for one purpose and one purpose only, it’s to stop the witness list that I’ve proposed from being called and it’s to ensure that basically only the ministers will get called and they can run roughshod with the truth as they see fit,” Mr. Byrne told The Hill Times after Mr. MacKay explained the government’s position following a scathing report on the F-35 from Auditor-General Michael Ferguson…
Mr. Byrne said Mr. Saxton made it clear during an in-camera discussion of his motion after Mr. Ferguson appeared at the committee that the government will allow only the main Cabinet ministers involved—Mr. MacKay, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove, Alta.,), Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino (Vaughan, Ont.) and Industry Minister Christian Paradis (Mégantic-L’Éerable, Que.)—to show up and testify.
When Tony Clement and John Baird testified about the G8 Legacy Fund last November, they brought four officials with them.
Update 12:20pm. Responding to the Hill Times story, the Prime Minister’s Office dismisses Mr. Byrne’s version.
The chief spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) said the government does not want to restrict the committee witness list for hearings on the F-35 report and called Mr. Byrne’s allegation and The Hill Times’ story “100 per cent incorrect.”
“At no time was Saxton calling ministers. That is a complete fabrication from Byrne. Had you bothered to ask, you would have learned that the government plans on welcoming officials to testify at committee,” Andrew MacDougall, Mr. Harper’s communications director, said late last night in an email to The Hill Times. “At any rate, you needn’t have relied on Mr. Byrne to speak to the government’s plans. Mr. Saxton’s motion was public for all to see.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM - 0 Comments
In this week’s print edition, I write about Brad Trost, Stephen Woodworth, abortion and the Prime Minister. For that I sat down with Mr. Trost a couple weeks ago in his office. Here is a slightly abridged transcript of that conversation.
Q: I wanted to start with Mr. Woodworth today. What did you make of that?
A: Everyone, I think, in Ottawa, knows I’m a pro-life Member of Parliament. I don’t see how scientifically there’s any question about when human life begins. And politically I don’t understand why Canada is the only democracy that really has no legislation whatsoever. I mean, let’s face it, we’re more socially conservative than France and France has abortion legislation after 14 weeks. Sweden does, we’re more socially conservative than Sweden. I don’t get where the disconnect is on this one. People can agree to disagree. My board of directors, Conservatives in Saskatoon-Humboldt, they’re all over the board on this. By and large they’re mostly like-mind because my riding has a huge devout Catholic proportion. It’s like 42% Roman Catholic, and not like Quebec, they’re a fairly observant lot. So that’s reflected in the nature of my constituency and my voters, but my board of directors includes a couple pro-choice people and they respect and some of them tell me I’m doing a great job on a whole range of issues. So I think we can have a good dialogue on this and it wouldn’t be what I’d like, but I still can’t figure out why Canada can’t have some legislation like Sweden or France or Germany has. This puzzles me.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
The McGuinty and Harper governments blame each other for the situation at Electro-Motive in London.
Ottawa could have prevented the loss of hundreds of jobs at an Ontario locomotive plant if it had acted to modernize Canada’s “outdated” foreign investment laws, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Monday … However, the federal government said a month ago that the takeover was never looked at by Investment Canada because it fell under the $300-million threshold. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office said the government sympathizes with the workers, but there was nothing Ottawa could do. ”This issue fell entirely within the powers of the McGuinty government, there was no ability for the federal government to intervene,” spokeswoman Sara MacIntyre wrote in an email. That’s not true, McGuinty said. What happened at Electro-Motive wasn’t a labour relations issue, “and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.”
Whatever the Harper government’s lack of jurisdiction, Conservative MP Ed Holder says he arranged calls between Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and the parties involved.
I helped arrange discussions with the federal Labour Minister between the Company, the Union and the Mayor. These were in an effort to get everyone back to the bargaining table … The calls took place in mid-January.
Ms. Raitt released a statement about the dispute on January 5.
Meanwhile, Mike Moffatt busts the myth that Electro-Motive received a direct subsidy from the Harper government. And the House is spending the day debating the following NDP motion.
That this House condemn the decision of Caterpillar Inc. to close its Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario, with a loss of 450 jobs, and that of Papiers White Birch to close its Quebec City plant, with a loss of 600 jobs, and call on the government to table, within 90 days, draft amendments to the Investment Canada Act to ensure that foreign buyers are held to public and enforceable commitments on the ‘net benefit’ to Canada and on the protection of Canadian jobs.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 21, 2011 at 2:34 PM - 17 Comments
The Hill Times tallies the number of people employed by the government for the purposes of “communications.”
The Hill Times went through the government electronic directory service to get a rough idea of how many communications staffers—people paid to help craft and disseminate any given government message—currently work in the public service, ministerial offices, the PMO and the PCO. In all, there are currently around 1,500 communications staffers working in government offices and departments across Canada, including 87 in the PMO and PCO.
That’s roughly five for every MP. And if that total doesn’t include staff employed by opposition MPs and leaders’ offices, the ratio is even higher.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 8:45 AM - 9 Comments
Greg Weston looks into what Bruce Carson was doing after he left the Prime Minister’s Office.
In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Turner said the board has simply written off about $15,000 of taxpayers’ money that Carson spent on personal travel and other expenses during his last month on the job. The school — a think-tank set up at the University of Calgary with a $15-million federal grant — withheld another $13,000 it owed Carson when he left under a cloud of controversy in March…
The Canada School of Energy and Environment was supposed to bring together the best and brightest from the public and private sectors to create new clean energy technologies and strategies. Instead, Carson effectively turned the school into a one-man advocacy centre to promote the Canadian oil industry in general, and the oilsands in particular, a role he had played through most of his time in the Prime Minister’s Office.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM - 44 Comments
The Conservative backbencher describes his conversations with the Prime Minister’s Office in regards to funding for Planned Parenthood, accuses CIDA staff of leaking to the media, mocks the government’s position and vows to take an “aggressive” stance going forward.
The battle over the IPPF continues. Pro-Life politicians have been taught a lesson. The government only responds to Pro-Life issues and concerns when we take an aggressive stance. We will apply this lesson.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 6:03 PM - 4 Comments
Lest you doubt that the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Canada sat in a room together this afternoon, the Prime Minister’s Office has released both photo and video (zip file) evidence. Apparently at such meetings, the Prime Minister first delivers opening remarks in both official languages.
For whatever reason, Peter Van Loan was not allowed this time to hover over the Prime Minister’s shoulder and listen in.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:49 PM - 7 Comments
The Prime Minister’s Office would like Conservative MPs to refrain from bringing too much attention upon themselves as it pertains to this year’s provincial elections.
“During these elections you may be called upon by a provincial candidate to assist them in their election. Please keep in mind that we do not want the federal government to become a story in any of these elections,” he warned….
The memo notes that, “In provinces where there is only one ‘conservative’ option, we may all make efforts as individuals on private time to assist the election of that option — provided that we comply with this policy.”
One might wonder whether Stephen Harper, with his comments at Rob Ford’s barbeque, already violated this rule about becoming the story.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 5, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 14 Comments
Video of the Prime Minister speaking at Rob Ford’s barbeque was apparently removed from YouTube at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office.
But the little Ford-Harper On the Road yuck fest video that went viral Wednesday, then AWOL Thursday, apparently didn’t sit right with the Prime Minister’s Office. The video was yanked from YouTube, although by Thursday night it had mysteriously popped back up on the site.
It had been taken down by the user, one of the 800 or so Ontario Conservatives who attended a tribute to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at Ford’s mother’s home Tuesday evening. Harper’s office took care of that.
The video is newly posted
here. (And now that clip seems to have been pulled because of a copyright claim by the original poster.)
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
The government has decided to release the Champlain Bridge report, but denies this constitutes a change in position.
“I think that they will be released, actually,” Sara MacIntyre, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. ”I think that those reports will be out shortly.”
A spokeswoman for Lebel added that a statement from his office would be out Wednesday afternoon. She rejected the suggestion that the government had a change of heart. ”It’s just a question of timing,” Vanessa Schneider said. ”We received the report, I think, in the department just before the election, and as you know, Minister Lebel was appointed in late May, so it’s just a question of going through all our processes.”
Connoisseurs of the subject matter can read the report here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 4:31 PM - 78 Comments
While we’re on the subject of vaguely foreboding warnings from our Prime Minister, Mr. Harper’s communications director, Dimitri Soudas, has recently added this bit to his email signature.
“In such a world, strength is not an option; It is a vital necessity. Moral ambiguity, moral equivalence are not options, they are dangerous illusions.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 24, 2011 at 8:39 AM - 0 Comments
While the Prime Minister’s Office apparently declines to say whether the opposition leaders were asked if they wished to proceed with the detainee document review, it is clear the panel of judges was not done reviewing some of the material—including documents identified by the government as being subject to cabinet confidence.
Parliament’s dissolution meant that the judges no longer had any committee of MPs to turn to for input. Post-election, the judges were looking to discuss their findings with a renewed committee of MPs, but no such committee was formed. “We were advised by the government that it is unlikely that the [committee] will be renewed,” the judges wrote in their June 15 letter.
So they handed over what they had done and left some work dangling – including documents over which the government had claimed absolute secrecy. “We did not undertake a review of the government’s claims of cabinet confidence since we received confirmation of these claims only before Parliament was dissolved,” the judges wrote. “Nor did we complete our review of all of the government’s claims of solicitor-client privilege.”
Greg Weston reviews how we got here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 4:24 PM - 38 Comments
On April 14, midway through the election campaign, the two judges involved in the review of Afghan detainee documents wrote to Messrs Harper, Ignatieff and Duceppe to explain that nothing could be released because the House had been dissolved and, thus, the ad hoc committee of MPs no longer existed. Both the Conservative and Liberal sides expressed their desire to see documents released, but nothing more came of it.
On May 6, four days after the vote, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the government supported the release of the judges’ report.
On May 17, John Baird, at that time still the government House leader, stated that a number of documents “should be able to be tabled in short order.”
The 41st Parliament was opened on June 3 and has now conducted nine days of business. Nothing has been tabled. In response to questions about when something might be tabled, the Prime Minister’s Office says that the “government will honour its commitment to table the report.”
Assuming the House must be in session for anything to be tabled, there are four days next week to do this before the House breaks for the summer, not due to return until Sept. 19.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 10, 2011 at 4:28 PM - 8 Comments
“If monies earmarked for border infrastructure are being used for other purposes in addition to the G8 legacy fund I would have the same concern that I had with respect to using that fund for the G8 as well. If that’s happening, I don’t think it should be,” he told CBC News.
To explain Mr. Harper’s remark, the Prime Minister’s Office points to the funding, in 2003, of road improvements in Vancouver. Those improvements were linked to easing congestion around two border crossings. And that project is just one of 12 noted on the fund’s webpage. Here is a handy map of where those projects are located.
And here are the “funding and investment criteria” set out by Infrastructure Canada for the Border Infrastructure Fund. Continue…
By Philippe Gohier - Friday, May 6, 2011 at 5:28 PM - 35 Comments
For 36 hours or so last month there was some interest in the review of documents related to the detention and transfer of detainees in Afghanistan. In short, the judges responsible for determining—after investigation by the MPs on the review committee—what could be publicly released decided nothing would be released while Parliament was dissolved. The Conservative side said it supported the release of documents and Michael Ignatieff called for something to be done to make that possible, but apparently nothing ever came of it.
On that note, I queried the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday. Those questions and a spokesman’s answers were as follows. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 3:00 PM - 42 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 1:19 PM - 40 Comments
“I did not know about these revelations that we’re finding out today. I don’t know why I did not know,” Harper said. ”Had I known these things, I would not have … hired him.”
Mr. Carson’s lawyer says all of his client’s criminal record was disclosed to the RCMP. Whether or not that briefing made it to Mr. Harper, on May 12, 2006, Sun Media reported that Mr. Carson had been “disbarred, convicted of theft and sentenced to 18 months in jail in the early 1980s for stealing money from clients of his law firm.”
Update 2:39pm… The Globe adds these comments from Mr.Harper: “Let me be very clear about the situation: I knew that Mr. Carson had difficulties with the law many, many years ago—some 25 years ago.”
For the sake of clarity, note that there are two sets of charges here. Five years ago, it was reported by the Sun that in 1982 Mr. Carson had “pleaded guilty to two counts of theft over $200, after forging the signatures of two clients and stealing almost $20,000.” Yesterday, it was by CP that in 1990 Mr. Carson had pleaded guilty to defrauding Budget Car and Truck Rental, the Bank of Montreal and TD Bank.
It is the latter set of charges that Mr. Harper says he was unaware of. And it is on account of this latter set of charges that Mr. Harper says he wouldn’t have hired Mr. Carson.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 18, 2011 at 10:42 AM - 23 Comments
Her mother, Christine McPherson, is the director of programs and services for the water filtration firm, H20 Global Group. She defended Carson and her daughter in an interview Thursday.
“Mr. Bruce Carson has never worked with us as a lobbyist and never promised any form of access to any government official. He has simply assisted us in an advisory role to understand how we can work with the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and First Nations,” Christine McPherson said in a statement. “Mr. Carson has never lobbied for us nor has Mr. Carson ever offered to do (so) and no money has been paid or (has any been offered) to give us access to any government official,” the statement continued.
The Toronto Star details Bruce Carson’s differences with the Assembly of First Nations and the water filtration company’s dealings with one reserve.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 5:59 PM - 55 Comments
A former senior advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper was lobbying Indian Affairs to land water contracts potentially worth millions of dollars for an Ottawa-based water company that employed his fiance who was an escort.
The name of Michele McPherson, 22, appears on a secret contract witnessed by Bruce Carson that guaranteed her 20 per cent of all gross revenues from sales related to water contracts on First Nations reserves, according to a copy of the contract obtained by an APTN investigative team.