Opposition fears conflict of interest in PM's new chief of staff


The appointment of Nigel Wright as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new chief of staff has added a new dimension to the debate over the purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Opposition critics are questioning the selection of Wright because of his employment with Onex Corporation, which has financial dealings with Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35. Wright is reportedly on leave from Onex Corp. and expected to return as a partner and managing director in 18-24 months; he also continues to hold a significant financial interest in Onex, owning stock estimated to be worth $3.5 million (Richard J. Brennan, “Wright’s business ties make him wrong man for PMO, critics say“, Toronto Star, 4 October 2010).

The opposition parties are demanding a review of the appointment by the Ethics Commissioner, arguing that Wright’s connections represent a potential conflict of interest that could affect Canadian aerospace and defence policy. The Conservatives reply, however, that Wright has already met with the Ethics Commissioner and that he will adhere to the parliamentary watchdog’s rules (Jane Taber, “Tories fear ‘American-style confirmation hearing’ for chief of staff“, Globe and Mail, 5 October 2010).

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One Response to “Opposition fears conflict of interest in PM's new chief of staff”

  1. Jain C. KuranyOctober 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    From what it sounds like–fearing conflict of interest is a rather weak term for what is happening with Nigel and Stephen. Is it because of slander and libel laws that this is all being soft-pedaled? Or is it because we have become so complacent that we will not recognize that this along with much of Harper’s behaviour is similar to that of George W.(minor) and George (major). This is called graft, I believe, is a bad thing no matter how you look at it.
    I will not dignify these men with a Mister or a Right Honourable as it appears they are neither. Glad to see that the Opposition is getting something going to investigate this. Wright could probably manage quite well on his leave in some place far, far away; emptying bed pans; and looking after the wounded and distressed as an orderly. Perhaps he could spend the next two years as a relief worker in Haiti, Pakistan or with the forces in Kandahar.