By Jorge Barrera and Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
OTTAWA–One of the three illegal lobbying charges levelled by the RCMP against Bruce Carson stems from a meeting he arranged with the country’s energy ministers that also included one of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s current senior advisors, according to court documents.
Carson, once a trusted confidant of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was also charged with influence peddling involving Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada, according to the charge sheet filed in an Ottawa courthouse. The charge sheet states the infraction occurred between Aug. 26, 2009, and March 17, 2011, and it involved “a matter of business related to the government of Canada.”
The RCMP had been investigating Carson for months but officially charged the former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Wednesday with lobbying the federal government illegally, as well as influence peddling. He is scheduled to appear in court to face the charges on June. 18.
Carson was schedule to go to trial later this month on a separate influence peddling charge related to his efforts on behalf of an Ottawa-based water filtration company seeking to sell its products to First Nation communities suffering from dirty water in March 2011. He has since opted for a preliminary hearing which is scheduled for early June. The water company had a financial arrangement with his then-fiancee.
The Prime Minister’s Office called in the RCMP to investigate Carson following a meeting with APTN National News reporters who showed a senior PMO official evidence of Carson’s activities.
Carson is expected to publish a book in June about his time working behind the curtain of power. He worked for Harper while the prime minister was opposition leader and later as a senior advisor in the PMO.
Carson’s new charge relate to his work on behalf of the Canada School of Energy and Environment (CSEE), which received a $15 million cash injection from Industry Canada, and the energy-industry funded think tank known as the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC).
One of his illegal lobbying charges stems from his successful attempt to land a meeting between the country’s energy ministers and members of EPIC’s board, which included Daniel Gagnier. Gagnier is currently president of the think tank and the Liberal party’s co-chair for the 2015 federal election.
According to the charge sheet, Carson allegedly received payment to set up a meeting between “public officer holders” and members of EPIC sometime between Aug. 25, 2010, and Sept. 17, 2010. The dates correspond with emails contained in an Information to Obtain (ITO) filed by the RCMP in court last fall to access Carson’s bank records.
The ITO detailed Carson’s efforts in securing the meeting between EPIC’s board, the federal energy minister and his provincial counterparts who were meeting in Montreal on Sept. 17, 2010. According to the ITO, members of EPIC’s board, including Gagnier, sat in on the 15 minute meeting held on Sept. 16 in which Carson did all the talking.
In the lead up to the meeting, Carson also asked Gagnier to push EPIC’s policy work with Jean Charest, who was Quebec premier at the time. Gagnier was once a senior advisor to Charest.
According to the ITO, Carson emailed Charest’s political advisor Mario Lavoie on Sept. 2, 2010, and wrote “possible EPIC meeting with Energy Ministers” in the subject line. The email was carbon copied to Marc Vallieres, chief of staff to then Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis, and Gagnier.
The next day, Gagnier then sent an email to Carson on Sept. 3 saying he had discussed EPIC with Charest.
“Good move. I met with the premier yesterday. He told me he was the only one who had read our papers and that apart from transmission issues on which Quebec has a long standing policy, that he supports our initiative,” wrote Gagnier, according to the ITO.
“Can you help push this…bc (sic).”
Carson’s alleged illegal lobbying on behalf of the CSEE stems from Feb. 19, 2009 to March 3, 2010, to land government cash for the organization. Carson was executive director for CSEE, which is now defunct.
“As an employee of the Canada School of Energy and Environment, (Carson did) undertake to communicate with public office holders in respect of the awarding of a grant, contribution or other financial benefit by or on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada,” sated the charge sheet.
The third count of illegal lobbying spans from Aug. 13, 2009, and March 17, 2011.