Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today in Joe Oliver

While there is deserved attention on Harper’s chief of staff over Barrick Gold links today, let's also ask some questions about what Minister Joe "Responsible Resource Development™" Oliver is up to in his late summer travels. Today he was on site in Cambridge at the Aecon Group Inc. facility. There was, of course, a political motive behind this photo-op. Beyond their political priorities, however, there are questions about the role of a government minister and whether Oliver, in his ministerial capacity, should be so actively promoting a corporate interest like Aecon. From the ministerial press release:
“Aecon is an excellent example of how important the energy sector is to Canada’s economy, generating jobs for Canadians in every region of our great nation,” said Minister Oliver. “Like Aecon, our Government is focused on making the most of economic opportunities — opportunities for jobs, growth and prosperity — for all Canadians. Through the Government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, we will help Canada develop its tremendous natural resources to the benefit of Canadians in communities from coast to coast to coast.”
Over the next 10 years, more than $500 billion could be invested in 500 resource development projects across Canada.
“This represents a huge potential for companies, like Aecon, which service our abundant natural resources industry,” said Minister Oliver. “Responsible Resource Development will ensure we capitalize on these investments to provide opportunities to Canadian companies, their workers and their families.”
Aecon is a company that bids regularly on government work. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Lots of companies bid on government work. But a minister should be careful to keep distance from those who do bid regularly on government work.

And even more particular to Oliver, Aecon is also in the business of building oil pipelines. This is something that Oliver oversees in his role as minister as a matter of regulation. Should the minister be speaking in a way that actively promotes a company who bids on projects and activities under his ministry's watch?