Harper to recuse himself from matters dealing with Talisman Energy

Harper to recuse himself from matters dealing with Talisman Energy by Glen McGregor, September 28, 2012, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — A family connection could force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to step aside from politically-charged decisions involving a looming foreign takeover of an Alberta energy company. The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Friday that Harper has consulted with the ethics commissioner over the fact that his younger brother, Grant, works for Talisman Energy, the Calgary-based oil and gas company. “The Prime Minister has taken steps internally to avoid ever being involved with any matter dealing with Talisman,” said director of communications Andrew MacDougall. “Matters of general application, like tax rates, are of course not relevant here.” Talisman is expected be the target of a foreign takeover attempt, once the government decides whether to approve the acquisition of Nexen Inc. by China’s national oil company, CNOOC. Talisman is already in a joint venture with China’s Sinopec oil company and a recent management change triggered speculation it is grooming itself for sale to Asian interests. As in the pending Nexen deal, any sale of Talisman to foreign interests would be reviewed under the Investment Canada Act and scrutinized by cabinet through the highly-subjective “net benefit” test.

Grant Harper’s position as a chartered accountant with Talisman seems to be one of the few potential personal conflicts-of-interest that the prime minister has faced in the job. With no real background in the business world — he worked mostly in politics and as the head of the right-wing advocacy group, the National Citizens Coalition — there has been little apparent crossover between Harper’s public duties and past or present private interests. … Talisman is currently registered to lobby the Prime Minister’s Office on numerous files involving energy, taxation, foreign affairs and resource extraction. In addition to the company’s own executives, three consultant lobbyists, including well-connected Conservative Goldy Hyder of Hill and Knowlton, are registered on behalf of Talisman to lobby the PMO and other departments. The only declarable assets and liabilities Harper lists in his ethics declarations are his wife Laureen’s Raymond James investment account, comprised of publicly-traded securities, and a Bank of Nova Scotia loan they hold jointly. The conflict-of-interest code for MPs requires listing of sources of income for spouses but not siblings. Harper’s two brothers, both accountants by trade, have largely avoided the media spotlight since he was elected prime minister in 2006. During the 2004 election campaign, when asked to name his best friends, Harper said, “My brothers,” according to a 2006 story in the Calgary Herald. Both Grant and the youngest Harper brother, Robert, had been actively involved in his campaigns, dating back to his 1993 run for office as a Reform Party MP, the paper said. Robert also managed his brother’s 2002 bid for leadership of the Canadian Alliance and made a rare foray on to the public record when he wrote a letter to the National Post regarding a disagreement with then-rival Stockwell Day’s campaign.

[Refer also to: Plenary Panel with Jessica Ernst and Peter von Tiesenhausen Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, October 12, 2012 Open to the public through MRU’s Ticketmaster $10.00 (plus GST)

“The Great Getaway: Secrets of a Frac Cover-Up” Jessica Ernst has spoken in public around North America concerning the dangers of fracking, having herself experienced these dangers as a result of fracking on her land near Rosebud, Alberta. A recipient of the UN’s Woman of Courage Award in 2011, and currently in litigation against Encana, Ernst will speak about four aspects of fracking culture and politics in Alberta: 1). breaking the law to frack in secret; 2). punishing citizens who ask questions; 3). investigating fracking without investigating in order to ensure that experiments continue; and 4). using Alberta Innovates to conceal public water testing data.

Talisman pledges $1.25 M to Mount Royal University September 27, 2012, Calgary Herald
Leaks found in shale gas wells: Que. Report, 31 were inspected ‘and more than half have problems,’ says envrionmental expert ]

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