Former aide to Canada PM goes on trial, adding to scandal
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - A former aide to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper went on trial for influence-peddling on Monday, adding to the scandal that has helped undermine the ruling Conservatives ahead of an October election.
Bruce Carson, who worked as a policy advisor from 2006 to 2008, is charged with improperly lobbying the federal Indian Affairs ministry in 2010 and 2011 over the proposed sale of a water filtration system to an aboriginal group.
Former officials are not allowed to lobby Ottawa for five years after leaving government. Carson had not registered as a lobbyist.
Prosecutor Jason Nicol told an Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa that Carson assured the firm trying to sell the equipment that he could get the deal done.
In e-mails, Carson talked about setting up meetings with two former aboriginal affairs ministers as well as senior officials.
"There is no question: if Mr Carson did not have actual influence he certainly pretended he did so," Nicol said.
Carson is the latest in a string of Harper appointees to end up in legal trouble, a fact that opposition politicians are eager to exploit.
"The trial of Bruce Carson will serve to underscore yet again that Mr Harper has had very poor judgment about the people he gathers around him. He has opened the doors of the prime minister's office to a tremendous number of somewhat less than scrupulous characters," said Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Continued...