Monday, March 21, 2011

Carson allegations widen

Another report drops from APTN today on Harper's top former senior adviser Bruce Carson and his efforts in meeting with various government departments to obtain water contracts for the Ottawa water company that employed his fiancé and who would see a 20 percent commission from sales of those water systems. Those efforts reached beyond four meetings with Indian Affairs officials between September and December of 2010. APTN says, and Kent's spokesperson confirms, that there was a Carson meeting with Environment Minister Peter Kent as well on February 7th. More of that "who you know" calling card that matters with the Harper Government.

Some other intriguing aspects of APTN's report...this, on the apparent frustration in dealing with Indian Affairs that may have spawned the meeting with Kent and the aggressive "end-run" effort with aboriginal communities referenced here:
Carson and the company also planned an end-run on the department and were trying to convince bands to pass band council resolutions stating they wanted to do business.

“If we can work with the band itself and have the work with them, it will be easier having the band work with (the department) rather than ourselves,” said Carson. “Each of the communities gets a stream of money for capital projects and if we can tap into that kind of money coming through the band rather than making some huge application to (the department).”
Carson suggests that the Duncan Indian Affairs political staff were amenable to what they were hearing:
“I met with John’s (Duncan) staff and they know (about the water company). They are trying to be helpful and quite frankly it’s a frustration for them too,” said Carson, in the interview. “There is a certain amount of frustration, and everybody knows this, but I haven’t made a secret about it, of trying to deal, trying to get this moving along in the department.”
That seems like a very notable quote.

In terms of the money involved here, recall this line from Saturday's Chronicle Herald piece, the view from Patrick Hill of the water company at issue, on the money targeted:
Sources say Hill told business associates that Carson was going to help him get access to part of $350 million budgeted for First Nations water improvements.
From the APTN report, Carson is cited speaking about the same ballpark of funds:
Carson said Indian Affairs officials informed him that the department would pay directly for a project worth over $1.5 million. He also said the department would be willing to fork over training money. The company planned to train two people on each reserve to change filters. All the bands had to do was sign and all their water problems would be fixed, said Carson.

“(The department) has represented to us that they will actually pay for this out of the $330 million that the government put aside to handle this, to deal with clean drinking water,” he said.
The defence being cited by Carson for these efforts, in respect of allegations of improper lobbying, referenced in both the APTN report and this Star report, here:
“I really don’t want the Lobbying Commissioner sort of going crazy over my involvement in this,” he said, according to a report Monday by APTN. “This would be like one-tenth of one per cent of my time, so we’re all right.”
It's just one-tenth of his time so he's all right, said the former senior adviser to the PM.