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Joe Oliver’s office paid for speeches by former Harper aide

Posted in Talking Politics


Published on February 20, 2015 with No Comments

Finance Minister Joe Oliver came under fire  over revelations that his office broke federal rules in 2013 when it paid $9,209 for two speeches written by Guy Giorno — Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff and Conservative party legal adviser.

The Liberals debated over documents that show in 2013 — when Oliver was Natural Resources minister — his chief of staff David Forestell sent a $9,209 bill to the department, after the fact, to pay Giorno and his law firm Fasken Martineau for two speeches that had already been written. Natural Resources Canada staff warned the speechwriting contract was “inappropriately initiated.”Giorno, who served as Harper’s chief of staff for more than two years, is a senior partner in the firm and was cited in emails about the speechwriting contract. A leading TV channel claimed that Giorno  had confirmed through an email that he wrote the speeches, which federal officials said were on the government’s responsible resource development policy and announcement of a special representative on West Coast energy infrastructure.

When department officials asked why the minister’s office chose to go with Fasken Martineau, Oliver’s chief of staff said they offered a “quick turnaround time and the minister is comfortable with the style and tone of this speechwriter.”

Along with being Harper’s chief of staff from July 2008 to December 2010, Giorno also served as the Conservative party’s national campaign co-chair for the 2011 federal election campaign and has provided legal advice to the party.

In the House of Commons Liberal MP David McGuinty grilled the Conservatives over why they violated federal contracting rules.“Treasury Board contracting rules are in place to prevent corruption and political favouritism,” McGuinty said.Oliver was in the Commons for question period, but didn’t answer. Instead, Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Harper, responded and said the Conservatives “expect all Treasury Board guidelines to be followed.”The $9,209 billed for the speechwriting services was just below the $10,000 level, with any federal contract over that amount required to be publicly disclosed.The Liberals, using access-to-information laws, asked for a copy of any speeches prepared for Oliver, but the department provided nothing. The Liberals questioned what Oliver’s office actually received for the payment to Giorno and Fasken Martineau.


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