Monday, October 4, 2010

Stephen Harper and Another Lobbying Scandal

I received some notes the other day concerning ties between the 17 billion dollar fighter jet contract and Harper's new chief of staff, Nigel Wright.

My personal concern with Wright was that he was hired to drive what he himself referred to as " a stake through the heart of the Tory party.”

He hated Progressive Conservatives (Red Tories) as much as Stephen Harper, so his recent hiring represented the final death throes of Canada's Tory tradition.

But now one of Canada's best investigative journalists, Tim Naumetz, has linked Wright with the firm that was given the single source contract, much to the chagrin of Canadian firms, who have only been promised that they can "bid" on servicing the jets.

Good luck with that.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's designated new chief of staff was until last week a director of a major U.S. aircraft manufacturer that is partnered with defence industry giant Lockheed Martin in a bid to sell a fleet of precision attack and reconnaissance warplanes to the U.S. Air Force. Opposition MPs are raising red flags over the link between Nigel Wright, expected to take over as Prime Minister Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) chief of staff in January, and the U.S. defence bid because of the controversial $17-billion sole-source contract Prime Minister Harper's Cabinet is awarding to Lockheed Martin to supply Canada with 65 stealth fighter jets.

Mr. Wright, a partner and managing director at Onex, last week informed Hawker Beechcraft Inc., the aircraft firm partnered with Lockheed Martin in the precision-attack plane bid, that he would be resigning his board post this month, according to a departure of directors notice from Hawker Beechcraft that financial news services posted in late September shortly after Prime Minister Harper announced his selection of Mr. Wright as his top political aide.

Despite that resignation, however, Mr. Wright's relationship with Hawker Beechcraft's parent, Onex, remains unclear. The only statement the company has apparently released since the appointment was a "note" to The National Post that the newspaper quoted the day Prime Minister Harper's office quietly circulated news of Mr. Wright's selection. "Nigel will start work in Ottawa at the end of October and will return to Onex in 18 to 24 months to resume his leadership of the aerospace and defence and energy verticals," the note said, referring to Mr. Wright's prominent role in the acquisition, development and management of Hawker Beechcraft and other company interests.

In other words, he's taken a leave of absence from his job to work on the inside to make sure that the American firm gets the contracts, and that the Canadians are shut out.

I guess his goal was no longer just to drive a stake through the heart of Tories, but also through the heart of our country.

We don't need these jets. We don't need Nigel Wright. And we definitely DO NOT NEED STEPHEN HARPER.

We can't afford any of them.

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