Former aide to Canadian PM charged with influence-peddling

Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:55pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - A former top aide to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was charged with influence-peddling on Friday, a move that could embarrass a government that came to power stressing accountability.

Police said Bruce Carson was "alleged to have accepted a commission for a third party in connection with a business matter relating to the government." Carson's lawyer declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Harper's office said in March 2011 it had asked police to investigate Carson, a senior adviser to the prime minister until 2009, on the grounds that he had apparently broken conflict of interest laws.

Canadian media linked this to a range of lobbying work done by Carson, who has previous criminal convictions for fraud.

"Any individual who doesn't respect our laws must face their full force as well as the consequences that come with them," said Andrew MacDougall, Harper's chief spokesman.

It was the first time in living memory than an adviser to a prime minister has been charged with influence-peddling.

"This reaches right onto the prime minister's office ... and has to call into question the judgment of the prime minister for hiring him in the first place," said Scott Andrews, a legislator with the opposition Liberal Party.

The charge is the latest ethics problem to hit the ruling Conservatives, who came to power in early 2006 after a kickback scandal helped bring down the former Liberal government.

In March the federal ethics commissioner ruled that Industry Minister Christian Paradis had violated the Conflict of Interest Act by telling bureaucrats to set up a meeting with a former Conservative legislator who wanted to do business with Ottawa.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses supporters at the annual Prime Minister's BBQ during the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, July 7, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol