NEW EVIDENCE OF CONSERVATIVE’S SLUSH FUND POLITICS: Clement funnelled work through constituency office to avoid oversight
August 15th, 2011 - 2:22pm
New documents reveal that Tony Clement used the G8 Legacy money as a $50 million personal slush fund and devised a system that would skirt transparency and accountability. This evidence obtained by New Democrats through municipalities in Muskoka contradicts the story given to the Auditor General by government officials.
New Democrat Ethics critic Charlie Angus says these new documents raise major questions as to whether the Conservatives engaged in a cover-up to prevent the AG from learning the true extent of the Muskoka slush fund.
"This stinks of a cover-up. Even at the height of the sponsorship scandal Canadians knew they could count on the Auditor General to get to the bottom of the spending. Why didn't the Conservatives tell the AG that they set up a private, parallel system outside the normal checks and balances of the bureaucracy? Tony Clement's fingerprints are all over this file."
The documents reveal the elaborate lengths Clement went to set up his own funding process to distribute $50 million. The projects were chosen by a small-group of mayors at meetings chaired by Clement. They wrote their own criteria for the projects, nominated projects for approval and then rubber-stamped the results. On top of all that, Clement used his constituency office to handle the intake of project proposals.
"The AG was unable to find any paper trail. This is because the AG wasn't told that the paper trail was in Tony Clement's constituency office. The AG was told that federal civil servants were not informed about how the money was being spent. And yet the documents show senior civil servants participating alongside Tony Clement in private meetings where the money was divvied up. Where is the accountability?”
Angus says Clement broke all the rules when it comes to the G8 Legacy fund and that Canadians deserve answers. Since spring 2010 New Democrats have been calling for accountability into handling of the G8 / G20 summit.
“Haven’t we learned any lessons from the Liberal sponsorship scandal? Canadians deserve better. Sadly it seems the Conservatives took all the wrong lessons from the Liberal sponsorship scandal— they're just trying to make sure they don't get caught, rather than making sure it doesn’t happen again.”