Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tony Clement: You're going to love his nuts?

Interesting story on CTV last night about Conservative minister Tony Clement. Apparently he thinks it's OK to appear as a minister in commercials that pitch his friend's chemical companies to China. Friends he later gives government appointments to. And I thought it was only Holywood stars that did Chinese commercials that are never supposed to air in North America. Watch out Slap Chop Vince, you've got competition...

By the way, did Clement ever finally sell that stock he owned in a pharmaceutical company while he was health minister?

Wed May 26 2010, 11:00pm ET

LLOYD ROBERTSON: There are questions tonight about the conduct of a senior Conservative cabinet minister. The opposition is accusing Industry Minister Tony Clement of a conflict of interest after he did a commercial for a chemical company in his Ontario riding. Clement was health minister at the time. The video only aired in China. But in this CTV News exclusive, our Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife has obtained a copy.

ROBERT FIFE (Reporter): This ad isn't selling the Canadian outdoors. It's selling a Canadian chemical company to China. And who better to act as pitch pitchman than a high-profile cabinet minister.

TV AD: I'm Minister of Health for Canada. First of all, I want to extend my greetings to the people of China.

FIFE: Tony Clement did this promotional video in August 2008 for a company based in his riding.

TV AD: Let me have the honour to introduce to you Mr. Barry Young, who is the president and CEO.

TV AD: The science of Lord and Partners is interesting.

FIFE: It's highly unusual for ministers to play such a role.

BARRY YOUNG (Lord and Partners): He just introduced. That's what he did.

FIFE: And do you think it made a difference?

YOUNG: I think so, yes.

FIFE: The infomercial was produced by one of Clement's political supporters.

GEORGE YOUNG (Commercial Producer): It raised the profile and gave Barry credibility in China. And, you know, what better way can you do it than a federal minister?

FIFE: Clement later named his friend to the Canadian tourism commission when he became industry minister.

WAYNE EASTER (Liberal - PEI): That is way, way over the line.

FIFE: The opposition says it's unethical for Clement to open doors for friends.

EASTER: A minister of the Canadian government promoting one specific company over all others would be clearly giving that company preference.

FIFE: Clement was in Amsterdam and wouldn't agree to an interview. He released this statement. Just because this company is from Perry Sound-Muskoka does not mean it cannot seek help from its MP to enter new markets. This is clearly not a conflict.

PAT MARTIN (NDP - Manitoba): I can't imagine a more blatant conflict of interest than a cabinet minister using his office to shill for a private employer.

FIFE: The same company also received three untendered federal contracts this year valued at $41,000.

DAVID MCGUINTY (Liberal - Ontario): Is he doing promotional videos for every company in his riding? Is he doing promotional videos now as Minister of Industry for any company that approaches him?

FIFE: Tony Clement's office says the minister has done only one other promotional video, for the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. Lloyd.

ROBERTSON: And he's probably safe enough with the sick kids video. Well, Bob, first of all, how this a conflict interest for the minister, because he was, after all, promoting a company in his own riding?

FIFE: Lloyd, ministers are supposed to represent the whole country. There are other companies trying to sell the very same product to China, yet the minister is acting as a huckster for the one company that happens to be in his riding. Also the conflict interest code says it's wrong for ministers to promote the private interests of their friends.

ROBERTSON: Well Tony Clement, after all, is seen as a top line minister in the Harper cabinet. So might he be in trouble here with the prime minister?

FIFE: Not at all, Lloyd. The prime minister's office says he does not have a financial interest in this company, therefore, they do not believe that he is in a conflict of interest. The prime minister is going to stand behind him all the way. They do not want it lose a minister of Mr. Clement's calibre.

ROBERTSON: All right. Thanks, Bob.

FIFE: Good night, Lloyd.

UPDATE: The video:

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RuralSandi said...

Trust CTV to soften things up - to protect Harper.


Kim Leaman said...

CTV will do it's best to soften it up, for sure and Harper has already come to his defence. But I will be doing all I can to get this story out there. This is a very serious breach of Trust and a Huge conflict of interest.

Thanks Jeff.