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The Globe and Mail

Money launderer met ex-PMO aide on Ottawa street

An ex-prostitute convicted of money-laundering in the United States says she started a lengthy relationship with former prime ministerial aide Bruce Carson after a meeting on an Ottawa street, and followed him to Calgary when he left the Prime Minister's Office.

The Globe and Mail reported on Friday that Mr. Carson began a relationship in 2006 with Barbara Lynn Khan, who had just been deported to Canada after being convicted in North Carolina of money laundering for her role in running a sometimes violent prostitution ring.

The relationship ran throughout Mr. Carson's three years in Stephen Harper's PMO, and the Globe report has led to renewed claims from critics that the aide's private life posed a risk to the public's business.

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More than two weeks ago, the PMO contacted the Mounties because the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network was investigating alleged lobbying by Mr. Carson.

In an interview posted on Friday on the website of the APTN News, Ms. Khan said she met Mr. Carson when she asked him for directions to the address of another man on a downtown Ottawa street. While chatting on Mr. Carson's porch, he offered her a glass of wine, and later asked how much it would cost for her to stay the night, she told APTN.

The encounter grew into a four-year relationship that continued after Mr. Carson, 66, left the PMO in 2009. He was gradually moving into a new job as executive director of the Canada School of Energy and the Environment in late 2008, and Ms. Khan also moved to Calgary.

A source who knows Ms. Khan said her daughter, then aged 18, left North Carolina to join her mother and Mr. Carson in Calgary. The two also bought a downtown Ottawa condo together in November, 2009, less than a year after Mr. Carson left the PMO.

"He made me feel very loved and very safe," Ms. Khan, 43, told APTN reporters Kenneth Jackson and Jorge Barrera. The two reporters broke the story that Mr. Carson had met with Harper government officials to help a project to sell water-purification equipment to First Nations that was promoted by his fiancée, Michelle McPherson, another former prostitute.

Other details of Mr. Carson's past have emerged since, leading to questions about whether he should have been allowed into Ottawa's centre of power. Mr. Harper said he knew that Mr. Carson had been disbarred and convicted of fraud in the early 1980s - but never would have hired him if he knew of a second set of fraud convictions in 1990.

"He was open to manipulation, and his record shows that," New Democrat MP Paul Dewar said.

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It's not clear what, if anything, officials in Mr. Harper's PMO knew about the relationship. But the fact that a person who had recently been convicted of a serious crime had a lengthy relationship with a senior PMO adviser raises concerns of possible security risks, according to security expert and former RCMP commissioner Norm Inkster.

"Certainly, if people knew about it, one would think it would raise a concern," he said. "If I was a police officer still, and someone in the organization had that kind of relationship, it would be a security concern, because who knows what information is being shared."

In the political sphere, the questions are slightly different, Mr. Inkster said. Embarrassment for the prime minister is one potential concern, but extortion is an issue only if past behaviour is still secret. Concerns about leaks or abuse of information depend on what information the individual deals with in his job. "You have to ask the question, what information might he have had access to?" he said.

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