Saturday, June 25, 2011

More grit entitlements?

Another grit senator in trouble? More entitled to their entitlements?

RCMP Corporal Kevin Duggan has alleged in a sworn affidavit that between 2004 and 2006, Mr. Harb travelled to Dhaka at least four times to lobby Bangladeshi officials about a dispute over natural-gas payments – despite warnings from Canada's diplomatic corps that he was not welcome. Specifically, a former high commissioner to Bangladesh told the Mounties that because Mr. Harb was “personally involved with the company” his trips were “not good for the image of Canada.”

The 72-page affidavit, which was obtained by The Globe and Mail after a year-long legal battle with the Alberta Justice Department and Niko, was released this week but, by the order of Mr. Justice William Tilleman of Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench, it was heavily redacted.

Mr. Harb's name has been redacted from the sworn affidavit, but The Globe has independently confirmed that he was the target of the production order obtained by the Mounties in December, 2009. The order required a Calgary office of the Bank of Nova Scotia to hand over all of its files related to a bank account, a line of credit, as well as a mortgage.

Senators are allowed to take outside employment, sometimes as directors of companies or with law firms, but they are forbidden from trading on their public position for personal gain. The Conflict of Interest Code for Senators, which was adopted in May, 2005, states that they “may not act in any way to further their private interests, or those of their family, or to improperly further another person's or entity's private interests when performing parliamentary duties and functions.”

The Criminal Code also prohibits someone from using public office for personal gain.

In his affidavit, Cpl. Duggan highlighted Mr. Harb's alleged private use of a Government of Canada Special Passport – something only senators and MPs carrying out official overseas functions are entitled to – for at least two of his trips to Bangladesh, one in October, 2005 and one in April, 2006. He concludes that it was a “misuse of a public document issued to [him] solely for official travel.” The Mountie also concludes that Mr. Harb's “lobbying efforts on behalf of a corporation which allegedly used bribes to secure advantages in its business prejudiced Canada's interests for the benefit of a corporation engaged in unlawful behaviour.”

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