The r-word

The NDP has turned up more documents concerning Tony Clement and the G8 Legacy Fund. Specifically, they seem interested in the following passage from an October 2011 memo prepared for the deputy minister of industry, based on a conversation with a former employee of FedNor.

FedNor also assisted the Minister’s office in the prepartion of letters to advise unsuccessful applicants that their projects would not be forwarded to Minister Baird for his consideration. A list of unsuccessful applicants was provided by the Minister’s office to FedNor officials and letters were prepared in accordance with the direction received from the Minister’s Office.

Finally, once Minister Clement’s office provided the list of recommended projects to Minister Baird’s office, FedNor officials transferred the catalogue of projects to Infrastructure Canada officials. All 242 project proposals were sent; this included the 32 projects which were recommended by Minister Clement.

Charlie Angus stressed the r-word in relating all of this to reporters this morning, but Tony Clement has already described his role in much the same way. Consider this explanation from his appearance before the Public Accounts Committee last fall (emphasis mine).

Ultimately, the 32 projects that were funded represented the top priorities of the municipal governments, knowing as they did at the time–it was communicated to them–that there were various purposes for the G-8 legacy fund. It could be for straight infrastructure for the actual summit itself. It could be for business development like tourism, or it could be a legacy building or other structure as a thank you from the government to the community for hosting the event, which has been done in summits past.

So they knew the broad parameters, and they started to think of what their priorities were. The initial number, as you said, was 242. I will again state for the record that I told my mayors that was too many. When they started to reveal what their 242 projects were, my quick calculation was that there were $500-million worth of requests for a $50-million fund. So I did what I thought was the responsible thing on behalf of the government. I went back to the community and said, okay, you have to come back with your priorities, and I will make sure they are forwarded to the right people.

So that was the process. As the Auditor General indicated, once that was done and I recommended those projects to the Minister of Infrastructure, it was his decision to make.

Again, Mr. Clement’s explanation is that the mayors in his riding decided for themselves how the $50 million would be divided among them and that after they did so he simply passed that list of projects to John Baird’s office. In that sense, “recommended” is apparently meant to mean “forwarded.” Indeed, that would seem to be Mr. Clement’s response to today’s release from the NDP.