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RCMP head William Elliott should come clean on Bruce Carson clearance

Jorge Barrera (APTN National News) – RCMP Commissioner William Elliott needs to immediately clear the air about his involvement in giving Bruce Carson secret-level security clearance to ensure the ongoing investigation of the former senior aide to the prime minister avoids any taint of bias, says a Liberal candidate running for re-election in the Ontario riding of Ajax-Pickering.

Mark Holland, who held the public safety critic portfolio for the Liberals, says Elliott needs to come clean on whether he was involved in giving Carson security clearance to work in the Prime Minister’s Office despite five criminal convictions and two bankruptcies since 1980.

“When the RCMP is the agency doing the investigation and, potentially, the head of the RCMP was the one who gave the security clearance, then people would rightfully question the objectivity of the investigation,” said Holland. “The appearance of fairness in the law is just as important as fairness itself.”

Citing unnamed sources, CBC and The Halifax Chronicle-Herald both reported Tuesday evening that Elliott had given Carson secret-level security clearance to work in the PMO. The Canadian Press, however, quoting an unnamed intelligence source, reported that Elliott was not involved.

Elliott was national security advisor in the Privy Council Office in 2006 when Carson moved in to the PMO following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first election win. He was hand-picked by Harper to head the RCMP.

Harper’s principal secretary Ray Novak wrote directly to Elliott on March 16 asking for the RCMP to look into Carson’s activities following a meeting between a PMO official and APTN reporters.

“The materials we have seen may provide evidence of matters requiring investigation by the RCMP,” wrote Novak to Elliott. “If there is any more assistance that we can provide, please let me know.”

An APTN investigation delved into 65-year-old Carson’s lobbying activities for an Ottawa-based water company that had a financial agreement with his 22-year-fiancee, a former escort.

APTN obtained emails written by Carson where he promoted the company to officials with Indian Affairs. Carson also claimed in emails to have inside knowledge of the inner working of government. In interview with APTN Carson said Harper was one of his “closest friends” and that the two had known each other for “20 years.”

Carson was an acting chief of staff and senior advisor to the prime minister. He left the PMO in 2008 and returned for a short stint in 2009. Carson also recently took a temporary leave of absence from heading the Canadian School of Energy and Environment, which received $15 million from the federal government.

He was also heavily involved in committees and task forces dealing with the Alberta oil sands, energy and climate change.

At least two RCMP investigators from the commercial crime unit are currently in the midst of conducting the preliminary phase of their probe of Carson.

Holland says if Elliott was involved in giving Carson his security clearance, then the RCMP head would be required to distance himself from the investigation.

“If he was responsible for giving that clearance, he has to put some independence between himself and the investigation that is being conducted by his organization. That is something that is very important to the credibility of the investigation,” said Holland.

The RCMP referred questions on whether Elliott would be commenting to the Privy Council Office.

Harper, and his former chief of staff Ian Brodie, have both said the Privy Council Office was responsible for giving Carson clearance and officials at that central department raised no issues.

Harper has said he was not aware of Carson’s three fraud-related convictions in 1990 uncovered by The Canadian Press. Harper also said he would not have hired Carson if he knew of those convictions, which occurred when Carson was working for the Library of Parliament.

Carson told CP he disclosed his criminal past to Brodie.

The Canada Revenue Agency, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency would all have potentially been involved in the background check.

While the Privy Council has no authority over the hiring of PMO staff, it is responsible for security checks.

A spokesman from the Privy Council said a statement may be issued sometime this evening.

Categories: Broken Force, Commissioner of the RCMP.

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