Auditor general: Stephen Harper and Tony Clement lied to Parliament and may have broken laws before G8/G20

Auditor general: Stephen Harper and Tony Clement lied to Parliament and may have broken laws before G8/G20

Barack Obama, Abdoulaye Wade and Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 conference in Huntsville last June (Image: seneweb)

This morning the Canadian Press is pushing a hot story  that may influence the outcome of the federal election: a report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser says that Stephen Harper and Tony Clement may have broken the law while they were busy burying Huntsville under fresh new highways, airports and money. The run-down was supposed to have been tabled in Parliament, but the election call shut official Ottawa down, leaving it to be released mid-campaign.

From the Canadian Press report:

The auditor general says the Harper government misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that lavished money on dubious projects in a Conservative riding.

And she suggests the process may have been illegal.

A Jan. 13 draft of the chapter on the G8 legacy infrastructure fund was seen by The Canadian Press. It reveals that Industry Minister Tony Clement, the mayor of Huntsville, and the general manager of Deerhurst Resort chose the 32 projects that received funding — with no regard for the needs of the summit or the conditions laid down by the government.

Based on past previous elections, Harper should probably be worrying right about now. Allegations of wrongdoing from the auditor general—and this AG, no less—have led to election shake-ups in the past. Paul Martin lost the 2006 election thanks in part to rumours started when the RCMP announced it was investigating his government for crimes. (The RCMP was later investigated for that dubious move on their part.) With the debates happening tomorrow night, we reckon this is not how Harper wanted to start the week.

Alleged law-breaking aside, it’s a toss-up as to whom this helps more in the political horserace: Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals have made G20 waste one of their big issues (featuring it in attack ads), but it’s not like the Bloc couldn’t make some hay out of money getting wasted in Conservative ridings in Ontario. We expect pundits to figure this out some time before the debates start tomorrow. Stay tuned.

• Tories misinformed Parliament on G8 fund, may have broken law: auditor general [Winnipeg Free Press]