Mike Duffy's trial starts in three weeks. And wouldn't you know it? Nigel's Wright's name is back in the news -- not for his role in the Duffy Affair, but for the role he played in the awarding a contract to a man John Baird has called "a dear friend." Michael Harris writes:
A Jewish community centre in Markham applied for a federal grant from the federal Department of Human Resources to pay for an expansion to its facilities under the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Totally cool.
Public Works Minister Diane Finley’s department received 355 such applications, which her bureaucrats reduced to just 25. The cut-off to make that shortlist was 82 out of a possible 100 points. The top 25 applications were then sent out for external evaluation. Out of that number, just four were ultimately approved for funding.
Since the application at the centre of this scandal scored a lowly 52 out of 100 points, it didn’t make the short list and didn’t qualify to be sent out for external evaluation. At least, it didn’t qualify until the minister personally intervened and overruled her professional staff. Another victory for putrefied politics over sound public policy.
Finlay intervened after some heavy lobbying:
Baird, Peter Kent, Nigel Wright and others in the PMO either advised, strong-armed or lobbied Finley into reconsidering the project. Wright told Dawson that he had advised Finley that the matter had to be considered “carefully and fairly.”
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson found that Findlay broke conflict of interest guidelines. Stephen Harper says that she “acted within her discretionary powers and in good faith …” He had the same reaction when Dawson found that Christian Paradis did the same thing:
Paradis was found to have given preferential treatment to Rahim Jaffer by telling his departmental staff to meet with the former CPC MP about his company Green Power Generation. Before the ink had dried on Dawson’s finding against Paradis, Harper was dismissing the ethics commissioner’s finding as meaningless. He told reporters in Bangkok that Paradis didn’t act with “ill intention of any kind,” and “did no harm.”
The garbage keeps piling up.