Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Did the PMO encourage Brazeau to stay on as head of CAP?

That's a question worth asking given how things have panned out since his Senate appointment. And given that Brazeau tried to hang on to his post until this past Friday, it's reasonable to assume that no one in the PMO voiced to him that it was inappropriate for him to stay on as head of CAP while proceeding to the Senate. If that's the case, that's a problem for which they're accountable.

Given the obvious conflict of interest that would have been ongoing had Brazeau remained as head of CAP, lobbying the government at the same time he sat within the Conservative caucus, if the PMO had advised or encouraged Brazeau to stay on...well, that would have been contemptuous of the taxpayer, given that Brazeau would have been double-dipping, in effect, drawing two $100K + salaries per year. And it would have been inappropriate to have him stay as the head of an advocacy organization but have a position within the government. Clearly wrong.

So why didn't the PMO insist that Brazeau resign from CAP the moment he was nominated as a Senator? Mike Duffy resigned from CTV the moment he was appointed. The conflict with Brazeau was clearly there as well. So did someone mess up? David Penner, Harper's PMO director of appointments?

Why would the PMO encourage Brazeau to stay on as head of CAP when the conflict was so apparent? Might they have been blinded by the beneficial role Brazeau played for them as head of CAP by providing them with political cover and their political needs were prioritized over doing the right thing?

The Senate Ethics officer likely was the intervening force here that put an end to the possibility of Brazeau retaining his CAP leadership and entering the Senate simultaneously. Which should have been something the PMO should have required from Brazeau as a condition of nomination from the start. By not doing so, they're either demonstrating that this was an oversight or that they thought it was just fine for him to stay in this obviously conflicted position.

This flawed appointment continues to make news and does not seem to be finished. CAP and Brazeau are bearing the burden of the spotlight but the PMO's involvement is something worth further exploration.