Worst job interview ever: titan of Bay Street deigns to answer question from the NDP

Worst job interview ever: titan of Bay Street deigns to answer question from the NDP

PMO COS Nigel Wright (Image: Onex) 

When the error-prone Guy Giorno left his position as the prime minister’s chief of staff, Stephen Harper appeared to have found the ideal replacement in Onex managing director Nigel Wright. There’s just one problem: Wright isn’t quitting his job at Onex, meaning he intends to be the PM’s right-hand man while keeping a thumb (and possibly a few other body parts) in Canada’s largest non-governmental employer. This presents some ethical questions, and there’s nothing the opposition likes more than ethical questions.

At least not according to the Toronto Star:

The former Onex Corp. wunderkind was at the parliamentary ethics commission to convince MPs he can do a job for Canada and the Prime Minister despite the myriad business connections the Toronto-based equity fund has.

“You can’t even order pizza for the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) from what I can see here. Every move you make, every breath you take put you in a conflict of interest,” said New Democrat MP Pat Martin, looking a chart of Onex holdings.

That right, everybody. NDP members are now invoking The Police’s creepy stalker anthem “Every Breath You Take,” though Martin clearly didn’t feel the need to finish the lyric’s “…I’ll be watching you.” (No word yet on what Sting thinks of all this.)

Wright, for his part, did not answer the opposition questions with a hearty laugh and a rueful shake of his head. Instead, he went “open kimono” as the Globe and Mail described it, answering questions patiently and promising an “ethical wall” between his actions in the PMO and his investments at Onex.  The opposition asked how thick the metaphorical wall would be, keeping the political theatre going for a little while. In the end, though, it was clear that this is one of those cases that no matter what the government did, the opposition would wail, gnash its teeth and eventually give in. So get ready to feel the Wright-mentum until 2013—or the next election.

• PM’s new chief of staff grilled by MPs [Toronto Star]
• Incoming PMO chief Nigel Wright fends off conflict-of-interest questions [Globe and Mail]
Top Harper aide runs ethics gauntlet [Toronto Sun]
MPs grill Harper’s new Bay Street chief of staff [Globe and Mail]
• The trouble with hiring smart people [National Post]