Thursday, April 15, 2010

Green fund hearings in the offing

Parliamentary committee hearings are now forthcoming on the allegations surrounding the lobbying of the government on its Green Infrastructure Fund. Here's the motion that was passed Wednesday which has launched the hearings:
"That the committee immediately conduct a study of renewable energy project funding by the Government of Canada, and associated lobbying and advising activities associated with such funding; that the witnesses the committee calls before it shall include, but not be limited to: Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources, Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Labour, Patrick Glémaud, Green Power Generation Corp., Rahim Jaffer, Green Power Generation Corp., Nazim Gillani, International Strategic Investments, Honourable Helena Guergis, Member of Parliament Simcoe-Grey; and that the committee submit a report to the House of Commons on its findings."
Not surprising that hearings would result as we'd expect a parliamentary committee to do such work when there are public allegations of unregistered lobbying of the government on a $1 billion fund. We want our taxpayer dollars to be managed properly and with such massive government funding involved, to be handled fairly and according to some rules of procedural fairness. So it's appropriate to study, in the face of publicly presented allegations, whether there were any inappropriate goings on with the management of the fund, what kind of rules were in place, whether they fell down in any respect, etc.

In respect of the most recent allegations, it bears asking why a former Conservative MP and associate, apparently unregistered as lobbyists, were able to meet with a parliamentary secretary about the fund and later submit ineligible projects that nevertheless still made it to the parliamentary secretary's desk.

Another point to note, John Baird's parliamentary secretary, Brian Jean, is not on the witness list. Nor is Baird for that matter. It is Jean who seems to have been in the center of the allegations the last few days as the person that Jaffer and Glemaud met with about funding and who handled their submissions to him. Maybe he will be called later on?

In any event, it seems that even the Conservatives on the committee agree with the probe or are resigned to it, or something:
The probe, which begins immediately, came out of two motions by Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay, and met little resistance from Conservative MPs who abstained or voted for the motions.
Conservatives voting for the hearings, well that's kind of interesting.

Anyway, let's hope that serious and tough questions are asked that do justice to the real issues raised.