Bruce Carson preliminary hearing ends, judge rules enough evidence for trial

By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
A former senior advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper lost a bid to have his influence peddling charge thrown out of court Thursday, after a judge ruled there is enough evidence to proceed to trial following a four-day preliminary hearing.

Bruce Carson is accused of using his influence in the Harper government to help a now bankrupt water company land lucrative contracts through the department of Aboriginal Affairs to provide clean drinking water to First Nations.

Carson was charged July 2012 with influence peddling by the RCMP and was originally supposed to go to trial last summer. It was re-scheduled for trial last month before Carson opted for a preliminary hearing that tests the Crown’s evidence.

Justice Jonathan Brunet presided over the preliminary hearing. He heard from Crown witnesses, including a former escort, the water company co-owners and employees of Aboriginal Affairs, and determined the case should proceed to trial.

Carson’s trial date is expected to be made June 27.

Carson attended court each day and took notes throughout. But his lawyer Pat McCann never called any witnesses or provided evidence in his defence.

The evidence heard is under publication ban, which is typical for preliminary hearings.

The case stems from an APTN National News investigation that was first revealed in March 2011. APTN presented portions of its investigation the Prime Minister’s Office who immediately called in the RCMP to investigate.

Last month, the RCMP charged Carson again with three counts of illegal lobbying and influence peddling relating to a different investigation.

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Investigative Reporter

Kenneth Jackson is an investigative reporter in Ottawa, Ont. with more than two decades in the business. He got his start in community newspapers before joining the Ottawa Sun in 2007 where he worked the police beat.

In 2011, Jackson joined APTN to break the Bruce Carson scandal that sparked three federal investigations into the former senior advisor to then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Carson was later charged with fraud sparking a court battle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The conviction was upheld and was based entirely on APTN’s investigation.

Jackson has focused, almost exclusively, on the child welfare system in Ontario over the last five years. The work has earned multiple awards, including the 2020 Michener Award.