A Strange Coincidence: Former Tobacco Board Lobbyist Joined Conservative Office As Tobacco Board Buyout Program Implemented?
As you may have heard by now, the Auditor-General is not happy about the fact that the Harper Regime gave over $280 million in subsidies to the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board to pay off tobacco farmers to kick their habit, so to speak, only to miss the fact that a large number of farmers were pocketing the money, engaging in some creative accounting (something the Ruling Party knows a lot about, I should add), and keeping right on growing tobacco after some dubious “quota transfers”:
- [Tobacco Transition Program] recipients working on their own farm as employees;
- independent children of TTP recipients renting their parents’ land and infrastructure, and obtaining a license to grow tobacco; and
- TTP recipients loaning money to a licensee or co-signing at a bank for a loan for a licensee.
Now, every so often, you can hear Conservative ministers crowing about how their government has made unprecedented advances in making government finances fair and free from the stain of lobbying. The tobacco scandal illustrates why we should look further. You may recall that Harper’s head PR flack during the 2011 election was an Ensight Canada lobbyist named Jason Lietaer. Lietaer is well-connected and his name was bandied about to take Harper’s communications director post last year, and then again earlier this year, after director Dimitri Soudas’s political career was tarnished by allegations (never seriously investigated) that he might be given a bribe in exchange for securing an appointment on the Montreal Port Authority.Tweet