Stephen Harper’s most unfortunate appointments

Nearly a decade of appointing people to positions of power has left Stephen Harper with a number of unfortunate associations
Dean Del Mastro arrives at court in Peterborough, Ont., on June 23, 2014. The House of Commons is debating a motion to suspend former Conservative MP Del Mastro, who was convicted last week of Elections Act offencesTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
(Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Arthur Porter, detained in Panama while he fought extradition to face fraud charges in Canada, died yesterday at the age of 59. He had reportedly been suffering from lung cancer.

Porter was the chief executive officer of the McGill University Health Centre from 2004 to 2011, but was accused of being involved in bribery related to the construction of the hospital. In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Porter to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the independent body that oversees the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. In 2010, he was appointed to chair the committee, but the next year he resigned from SIRC after the National Post questioned his dealings with an international lobbyist. (In 2013, it was revealed that Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe had questioned Porter’s appointment in a letter to the Prime Minister.)

It stands to reason that anyone responsible for the appointment of hundreds of people will eventually end up being associated with someone who does something unbecoming. But after nearly 10 years as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper is now tied to a rogues gallery of appointees.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Dean Del Mastro

Appointment: Parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, May 2011 to September 2013

Trouble: Last month, Del Mastro was sentenced to one month in prison and four months of house arrest after being found guilty of exceeding the election spending limit in 2008 and submitting a false document.

Mike Duffy

Mike Duffy

Appointment: Senator for Prince Edward Island

Trouble: Currently on trial for 31 charges, including fraud and breach of trust, related to expenses and contracts claimed as a senator. Suspended from the Senate in November 2013.

Pamela Wallin

Pamela Wallin

Appointment: Senator for Saskatchewan

Trouble: At last report, Wallin was being investigated by the RCMP for expenses she claimed as a senator. Suspended from the Senate in November 2013.

Justin Tang/CP
Justin Tang/CP

Patrick Brazeau

Appointment: Senator for Quebec

Trouble: Charged in March with fraud and breach of trust for expenses claimed as a senator, Brazeau is also on trial for charges of assault and sexual assault. He has also been charged with assault, uttering death threats, cocaine possession and breaching bail conditions as a result of an April 2014 incident. He was suspended from the Senate in November 2013.


Marc Nadon

Appointment: Supreme Court justice

Trouble: After Nadon had been nominated and sworn in, the Supreme Court ruled in March 2014 that Nadon was not qualified to fill one of the seats designated for Quebec on the high court. The affair later culminated in an unusual public dispute between the government and the chief justice.

Bruce Carson, the former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, arrives to court in Ottawa on Monday, June 2, 2014. Carson is in court for influence-peddling charges. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
(Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Bruce Carson

Appointment: Adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office

Trouble: Currently facing charges of improper lobbying and influence peddling.

Chris Wattie/Reuters
Chris Wattie/Reuters

Nigel Wright

Appointment: Chief of staff to the Prime Minister, September 2010 to May 2013

Trouble: Well-regarded when he was chosen to oversee the Prime Minister’s Office, Wright resigned in May 2013 after it was revealed he had given $90,000 to Mike Duffy to cover the senator’s disputed expenses.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper chats with Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Penashue, MP for Labrador, at a news conference in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Harper announced that the Canadian government, and the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have agreed on terms for a federal loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill River energy projects. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
(Andrew Vaughan/CP)

Peter Penashue

Appointment: Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, May 2011 to March 2013

Trouble: Admitted in March 2013 that his campaign in 2011 had accepted ineligible donations and resigned his cabinet portfolio and his seat. Ran in the resulting by-election, but lost. Earlier this year, the official agent for Penashue’s campaign was charged with violating the Elections Act.

Don Meredith/Mitchel Raphael
Don Meredith/Mitchel Raphael

Don Meredith

Appointment: Senator for Ontario

Trouble: Previously questioned about his education credentials, Meredith’s treatment of staff is currently being investigated by the Senate and he was expelled from the Conservative caucus last month after the Toronto Star reported allegations that the senator had had a sexual relationship with a teen girl.