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Gordon O'Connor Conflicted

From July 2, 2008

When Gordon O'Connor was named Defence Minister, he brought to the position the experience of not only a Brigadier General, but an industry lobbyist. While his military service to Canada was estimable, his efforts as a lobbyist should be examined much more closely, especially considering he was a military and defence industry lobbyist.

The Defence Minister of Canada, among other duties, is involved in the process of the government's military and defence purchases. On the other hand, a defence industry lobbyist's duty is to convince the government that they should purchase their military and defence needs from the company that the lobbyist represents. According to the Government of Canada's Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, in the ten years prior to his election to government, Gordon O'Connor is listed in their database 28 times, representing the interests of 24 different companies.

The list of clients includes Brown & Root (subsidiary of Halliburton), Raytheon, Airbus Military, Galaxy Aerospace, Stewart-Stevenson, BAE Systems, and others. The companies he represented were targeting the Department of Defence for a variety of purchases, including military trucks, helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, mortars, ammunition, gun barrels, and "alternate service delivery". As Defence Minister, Gordon O'Connor was suddenly in the position to deliver to those clients the services they desired.

In summer 2006, a contract for $2.1 billion dollars was announced for a ship building project that involved three of O'Connor's former clients; a $1.1 billion dollar contract for military trucks was granted in part to Stewart-Stevenson, a company he represented as late as 2004. O'Connor maintains he is not on the payroll of any company and that he holds no stocks, but it is hard to question the serious appearance of impropriety here.