Sunday, March 20, 2011

Conservative Family Values

Another scandal, another escort, another influence peddling former member of Harpers inner circle. It all belies the political opportunism of Harper and his party's appeal to its social conservative right wing base.

First there was Bernier with his biker momma girlfriend, then there was former MP Rahim Jaffer peddling his influence and partying with escorts now there is Bruce Carson.

A Former PMO operative acting as an insider lobbyist and peddling water contracts for his former escort girlfriend. Worse yet his girlfriend is 22 while he is old enough to be her granddad.

Are these examples of Conservative Family Values? Or are they just the same old same old, men in power wrap themselves in money and young ladies regardless of their professed political ideology..

Well the Carson scandal will be one that hits close to home, more so than even la affair Jaffer, which cost his MP wife Helena Guergis; her Minister-ship, her MP status and even her party membership.

Again we have a highly placed Conservative operator, Carson, peddling his influence in the PMO just like Jaffer did, once out of office.

The evidence was out long before Carson, a veteran of Tory politics in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park, was alleged to have lobbied the Indian Affairs Minister on behalf of a firm trying to sell water filtration systems to aboriginal reserves without safe drinking water.

Lost amid the sordid details of Carson proposing marriage to and buying a $389,500 house last December with a 22-year-old one-time escort was Carson’s guilty plea and subsequent 18-month jail sentence after the lawyer stole some money from his clients around 1980.

Carson was disbarred for forging cheques and stealing $23,900 from a corporation and two individual clients he represented.

“He is the author of his own misfortune,” provincial court judge Jack Nadelle said when he sentenced the disgraced Ottawa lawyer to 18 months in jail in February 1983.

He also has a long career in Conservative politics dating back to former leaders Joe Clark and Jean Charest. Around Ottawa. Mr. Carson is known as “the Mechanic” because, as he told an Alberta magazine earlier this year, “I fix things.”

The members of Mr. Harper’s inner circle were well aware of his criminal background when he became part of the transition team after Mr. Harper took office in 2006. But they felt he had paid his dues. “His advice was valued, there is no doubt about that,” a Conservative official said.

A former adviser to the Prime Minister lobbied on behalf of a water filtration company that reportedly cut a deal to compensate his fiancée, a 22-year-old one-time Ottawa escort, with a portion of all sales.

The revelation by the Aboriginal People’s Television Network adds a dose of sex — in the form of the 124 lb., 5-foot-6 blonde — to a political scandal that has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police probing a former confidante to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The report said that longtime Tory operative Bruce Carson was an official witness to a deal with an Ottawa firm, H2O Global Group, to provide 20 per cent of all revenues from the sale of water filtration systems to aboriginal reserves across Ontario to Michele McPherson.

McPherson and Carson purchased a $389,500 home in December in Mountain, Ont., south of Ottawa, according to property records.

The sweetheart deal itself is not illegal, but it could help to explain why Carson appears to have so aggressively promoted the firm. He is accused of breaching the rules designed to ban political staffers from lobbying the federal government when they leave Parliament Hill.

The Star could not confirm reports that Christine McPherson is Michele McPherson’s mother.

A listing on an Industry Canada website for maXimus HRM, a human resources firm specializing in providing skilled workers to employers in Canada, the Philippines and Qatar lists both McPhersons as directors.

The phone number for Michele McPherson is the same as the one on an escort website for a woman who identifies herself as Leanna.

The woman who identifies herself as Leanna received positive reviews on an online discussion forum for johns called the Canadian Escort Recommendation Board.

“Besides being beautiful, she is very friendly and loves to kiss and cuddle,” one client wrote in December 2009, noting he had booked an appointment based on positive reviews. “Leanna has a very comfortable and private location. I definitely plan to repeat.”

Leanna often posted notices advertising herself as available for both in and out calls and offering a “girlfriend experience,” meaning clients could expect her to treat them as if they were a couple.

Canada's oil and gas industry is distancing itself from Bruce Carson, the former top adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper who was one of its strongest allies until this week, when he found himself at the centre of influence-peddling allegations.

Carson was a key individual driving a controversial government and industry communications strategy to boost the image of Alberta's oilsands sector. A recently released briefing note prepared by bureaucrats in the federal government highlighted his presence at a special meeting last year between senior officials from the federal and Alberta governments as well as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an industry lobby group, Postmedia News reported last week.

Carson left Harper's office after being selected in 2008 as the executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment, a collaborative office bringing together three universities in Alberta to promote research on sustainable energy development and environmental management. The school received a $15 million grant from the Harper government in the 2007 budget and said its board of directors recruited Carson following an ``extensive international search.''

But when Carson appeared at a meeting of government and industry officials in March 2010, federal briefing notes from Natural Resources Canada described him first as a former senior adviser to Harper.

Carson had said he was actively doing outreach work for with the industry through a series of town-hall meetings across North America with oil and gas executives in recent months while promoting another industry lobby group, the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, of which he was a vice-chairman. This lobby group, made up of energy companies and large corporations, is a partner of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and is hoping to eventually influence government policies in its calls for a national energy strategy that supports the industry's sustainable growth.

Carson's work praised

Heidecker praised Carson's work with the Canada School of Energy and Environment over the last three years.

"He has been able to cause a lot of very, very good conversations in the whole area of energy and environment," he said.

Heidecker, who also chairs the U of A's board of governors, denied that Carson's longtime conservative political connections played a role in his 2008 appointment to the school, which received millions of dollars in federal funding.

"Mr. Carson has phenomenal contacts within the private sector, within the public sector — and it was that ability to know people and access people... [that] we hired him," says Heidecker.

Administered by the universities of Calgary, Alberta and Lethbridge, the Canada School of Energy and Environment has yet to decide if Carson will get paid during his leave of absence, or who will head the institution during any RCMP investigation.

The University of Calgary declined to comment, noting in an e-mail to CBC News that Carson is "not a U of C employee."


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