Monday, October 4, 2010

Where there is smoke, there is fire

The stench of a scandal hangs around a political party for a long time. It takes years to cleanse the stain. Now before all the Conservatives get excited and think I have suffered a brain injury and am, therefore, switching sides I should point out that I am referring to the Airbus scandal.

The unseemly stories of Mulroney accepting envelopes of cash from Schreiber forms the overarching theme of his legacy. I have long thought that as the F-35 story progresses we would hear more evidence of how intertwined the government is with Lockheed-Martin.

PM's next chief of staff most recently linked to a major U.S. aircraft manufacturer

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's designated new chief of staff was until last week a director of a major U.S. aircraft manufacturer that is partnered with defence industry giant Lockheed Martin in a bid to sell a fleet of precision attack and reconnaissance warplanes to the U.S. Air Force.

Opposition MPs are raising red flags over the link between Nigel Wright, expected to take over as Prime Minister Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) chief of staff in January, and the U.S. defence bid because of the controversial $17-billion sole-source contract Prime Minister Harper's Cabinet is awarding to Lockheed Martin to supply Canada with 65 stealth fighter jets.

Mr. Wright, a partner and managing director at Onex, last week informed Hawker Beechcraft Inc., the aircraft firm partnered with Lockheed Martin in the precision-attack plane bid, that he would be resigning his board post this month, according to a departure of directors notice from Hawker Beechcraft that financial news services posted in late September shortly after Prime Minister Harper announced his selection of Mr. Wright as his top political aide.

Despite that resignation, however, Mr. Wright's relationship with Hawker Beechcraft's parent, Onex, remains unclear. The only statement the company has apparently released since the appointment was a "note" to The National Post that the newspaper quoted the day Prime Minister Harper's office quietly circulated news of Mr. Wright's selection.

"Nigel will start work in Ottawa at the end of October and will return to Onex in 18 to 24 months to resume his leadership of the aerospace and defence and energy verticals," the note said, referring to Mr. Wright's prominent role in the acquisition, development and management of Hawker Beechcraft and other company interests.

However, while he takes up his new role with Prime Minister Harper, Mr. Wright retains a significant financial interest in Onex, Hawker Beechcraft and the stable of assets held fully or partly by Onex. According to a market and shareholder data base maintained by Bloomberg LP, Mr. Wright still owned 93,957 shares in Onex last Friday, with a market value of $2.7-million.

It is understandable that Mr. Wright takes this position to help protect his business interests. It will be incomprehensible if the media does not follow this up and raise some hell.

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1 comment:

Catherine Lee, Canada said...

What do you expect? Most politicians or those who are in government are linked to businesses anyway.