Carson takes leave of absence from oilsands advisory panel
Bruce Carson has taken a leave of absence but did not resign from a provincial government advisory panel for Alberta’s oilsands in light of an RCMP investigation into the business dealings of the former senior advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“Mr. Carson contacted Alberta Environment and said he would be comfortable with any decisions the minister made in regards to Mr. Carson’s participation on our panel,” said ministry spokeswoman Erin Carrier.
Environment Minister Rob Renner on Thursday “took (Carson) up on his offer of a leave of absence on the Alberta advisory panel. As events unfold, Mr. Carson’s further participation on the panel will be re-evaluated,” she said.
Carrier added that it is not up to the province to “make an assumption as to any guilty verdict or not” regarding the allegations, which relate to Carson’s alleged involvement in lobbying the federal government for First Nations water contracts. “That’s not our role,” she said.
Opposition leaders and environmental activists decried the minister for not kicking Carson off the panel.
Alberta’s NDP environment critic Rachel Notley said Friday Carson should have never been appointed to the panel in the first place.
“The company Carson allegedly lobbied for could sell water treatment systems to the very First Nations affected by the oilsands monitoring panel – that doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Notley. “The data from oilsands monitoring could be lucrative for businesses selling treatment systems.”
Greenpeace, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Sierra Club Prairie are also calling for “the immediate and permanent removal of Bruce Carson” from the panel.
Allegations relate to Carson’s lobbying of the Department of Indian Affairs on behalf of an Ottawa-based company to secure lucrative water purification contracts in First Nations communities, with a 20 per cent share his former-escort fiance and company “agent,” according to a report from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
Carson also took a leave of absence this week as executive director of the Canada School of Energy and the Environment, a joint project with the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge.
The school was created with $15 million in federal funding in 2008.