September 21, 2015
The Conservative campaign continues to be embroiled in legal struggles as the trial of Prime Minister Steven Harper’s former legal aide begins.
Bruce Carson is appearing in front of an Ottawa court on an influencing peddling charge relating to selling water filtration systems to aboriginal reserves. Carson, who was Harper’s senior adviser, is also being accused of three counts of illegal lobbying, but those will not be dealt with until 2016.
This is yet another distraction for the Conservative campaign, following the hugely publicized trial of Mike Duffy just last month. Harper’s former parliamentary secretary, Dean Del Mastro, was also recently sentenced to jail for election fraud, which he is now appealing.
As for Carson’s case, the Conservatives are differentiating it from the others, saying that the allegations against him did not arise until after he had left Harper’s office. Carson has pleaded not guilty on all counts, and none of the allegations he is facing have been proven in court.
The trial was previously delayed due to Carson’s health problems, and it has now been reduced down to a single day rather than the original six, following an agreement with the Crown to use transcripts of previously recorded witness testimony.
The main charge against Carson concerns his involvement with a company that was looking to sell water purification systems to aboriginal reserves. This same company also employed his girlfriend. Following that company’s sale of the systems, Carson allegedly directed 20 per cent of the revenue to his then fiancé.
Other things have since come to light, such as Carson’s criminal record and his disbarment from the Law Society of Upper Canada, all of which have prompted questions about the Prime Minister’s Office’s screening process. One thing is certain, with the Canadian Federal election looming, all of these allegations could not come at a worse time for the Conservatives.