Stephen Harper has asked the RCMP to investigate the activities of one of his former aides who allegedly used his position to offer access to the Prime Minister and his staff.
Bruce Carson, who is listed as the executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment and the vice-chair of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, was once one of Mr. Harper's closest advisers.
The Prime Minister's Office asked the Mounties to look into allegations of influence-peddling this week as the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) was preparing an investigative report about Mr. Carson.
Mr. Carson was the point man on aboriginal affairs when he worked for Mr. Harper, and co-chaired a task force for developing a new method for dealing with specific claims by first nations.
Mr. Harper has "never met with, been spoken to or been lobbied by Bruce Carson on any of these matters," PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas said in a statement to the media issued Wednesday evening.
"Upon being informed of the allegations by APTN we have turned them over to the RCMP Commissioner, the Ethics Commissioner and the Lobbying Commissioner," he said.
The government will no longer be in communication with Mr. Carson, Mr. Soudas said.
"Furthermore, the Ethics Commissioner was fully consulted at the time of his departure from the Prime Minister's Office and signed off on his employment at the Canada School of Energy and Environment," he said in the statement.
Laws prohibiting influence-peddling by former political staffers "are clear and they must be respected," Mr. Soudas said in an interview. "Those who do not respect them must and should face the full force of the law as well as the consequences that come with it."
The APTN has been looking into the activities of Mr. Carson and planned to air a segment revealing what it had learned on March 25 on a show called APTN Investigates. The date of the broadcast has not been changed despite the fact that the police are now involved. The network says it has obtained correspondence to show that Mr. Carson lobbied Indian Affairs and Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan's office on behalf of an Ottawa-based water company. The water company was apparently attempting to land contracts to sell water-filtration systems to native reserves with severe water-quality problems.
In a notice on its website, APTN said it had received a letter from Raymond Novak, the Prime Minister's principal secretary, that said: "Yesterday afternoon our office became aware of the existence of materials in the possession of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. ... These materials contain troubling details about recent actions and claims made by Mr. Bruce Carson, a former employee of the Prime Minister's Office."
Mr. Carson went to work for the Canada School of Energy and Environment in 2008, a year after the school received a $15-million grant from the Conservative government.
He then took leave to work for the Prime Minister's Office, where he was the director of policy and research and a senior policy adviser to Mr. Harper.
He was also an adviser to former environment minister Jim Prentice, who has since left politics. Mr. Prentice was at one time the minister of aboriginal affairs.
At one time Mr. Carson, a specialist in constitutional law, was touted as a possible successor to Guy Giorno, Mr. Harper's former chief of staff who was ultimately succeeded by Nigel Wright, a dealmaker in Onex Corp.
With a report from John Ibbitson