US wanted AG Fraser for top UN job: US diplomatic cables

Apparently impressed with her work, the U.S. government tried to entice Auditor General Sheila Fraser to take a job as the United Nation’s top auditor, according to a “confidential” diplomatic cable obtained by APTN National News.

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Apparently impressed with her work, the U.S. government tried to entice Auditor General Sheila Fraser to take a job as the United Nation’s top auditor, according to a “confidential” diplomatic cable obtained by APTN National News.

The U.S. nominated Fraser as their choice to run the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, but she declined, according to the cable, dated Feb. 25, 2010.

“Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser said that she was ‘deeply honoured’ that the USG had nominated her as a candidate,” said the cable. “She asked, however, that the USG withdraw her nomination. She explained that she was wholeheartedly committed to serving out her current mandate as Auditor General through May 2011.”

The cable said Fraser planned to take six months after her term expired before deciding what to do next.

APTN National news obtained hundreds of confidential and secret cables from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. CBC-Radio Canada also received the same batch of cables.

WikiLeaks released a large quantity of unclassified cables originating from the U.S. embassy and consulates in Canada last week and posted them on its website.

The cable said Fraser met with a U.S. official on Feb. 25 and that she was surprised by the nomination.

“She added that no one from the UN had yet contacted her about this nomination, so our request to meet came as quite a surprise,” said the cable. “She reiterated a deep appreciation that the USG had thought highly enough of her and her agency to consider this nomination.”

The cable does not say whether the Canadian government was aware of the American’s decision to promote Fraser for the UN job.

A spokesperson for Fraser said she would not be commenting on the cable.

“We can’t speculate on the cable you are referring to. This is new information. I am not even sure if the offer was made to the Auditor General,” said Ghislain Desjardins.

Fraser told APTN in a recent interview her job as Auditor General would be her last full-time job.

“I have to say, this is my last full time job. I’m planning to take at least six months, do a little travelling, maybe clean some closets, things that I’ve put off for a while, and to take the time to reflect on what I want to do next, and, you know, try to get back into shape and all the things we are supposed to do. So, thank you, but, no, not interested,” said Fraser.

According to its website, the Office of Internal Oversight and Services is tasked with preventing fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement and general corruption along with finding efficiencies within the UN’s bureaucracy and programs.

Fraser became a household name during the sponsorship scandal where her findings, along with investigative reporting, eventually toppled the Liberal government and severely damaged the federal Liberal brand in Quebec.

She again nearly changed the course of the last election after draft reports of her pending report on G8 and G20 spending were leaked to the media. Fraser issued a statement cautioning against drawing conclusions from the draft reports.

Fraser also gained the respect of First Nations leaders and she was invited to speak at the special chiefs’ assembly this past December.

The Auditor General told First Nations chiefs that Ottawa had failed First Nations people. After 10 years issuing reports on the performance of government departments, Fraser said the existing system dealing with First Nations was not working.

“I believe that First Nations, the federal government, and in some cases the provinces, have to rethink their relationship with each other,” said Fraser at the time. “First Nations people have waited far too long to have the quality of services Canadians receive every day and take for granted.”

Fraser said she has done 29 audits that directly or indirectly dealt with First Nations people and has seen very little change in the social conditions afflicting reserves.

She said reserves have fallen behind over the last 40 years and the federal government has failed to do anything about it.

“The conditions on many reserves remain poor and progress is slow. Some communities are making significant progress, but they are the exception rather than the rule,” said Fraser. “Services on reserves have not kept pace with services in municipal governments…The federal government has not been identifying and funding comparable services on reserves in any systemic fashion.”

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Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.