Clement ’revoked’ colleague’s portfolio after she funded gay event: documents

OTTAWA — Industry Minister Tony Clement’s office directed bureaucrats to “scrutinize activities” of major tourism events up for stimulus funding, just two weeks after Toronto’s Gay Pride festival received a federal grant.

OTTAWA — Industry Minister Tony Clement’s office directed bureaucrats to “scrutinize activities” of major tourism events up for stimulus funding, just two weeks after Toronto’s Gay Pride festival received a federal grant.

And documents suggest Clement had a direct hand in dumping cabinet colleague Diane Ablonczy from the helm of the program, notwithstanding assertions the leadership change was always in the works.

There was “no relieving” Ablonczy of her duties at the Marquee Tourism Events Program following the controversial Pride grant, Clement’s office said publicly in July. Ablonczy is the junior minister in charge of tourism and small business.

Darren Cunningham, Clement’s spokesman, said at the time that the program was simply entering a second phase that would be managed by the senior minister.

But documents obtained by The Canadian Press under Access to Information legislation raise questions about that line.

“This is to formally advise Minister Clement has revoked delegation of authority for the Marquee festivals program,” Clement’s chief of staff, Bill King, wrote to senior bureaucrats on June 29.

“All files, projects, correspondence and communications are now to be managed, approved and signed off by Minister Clement instead of Minister Ablonczy.”

King’s letter was sent just two weeks after Ablonczy announced $400,000 for Toronto Pride — followed by a Tory caucus meeting where some MPs expressed dismay that the gay and lesbian festival had received tourism stimulus funds.

A set of handwritten minutes from a departmental “team meeting” dated the same day notes that “Minister Clement “ is now signing events,” and that Marquee “activities are being scrutinized.”

Other subsequent notes have been blanked out, citing government confidentiality.

Applicants to the program are subject to a rigorous set of criteria, based on the number of domestic and international tourists they expect to attract and the size of their budgets.

Cunningham maintains it was always envisioned that Clement would take the file over from Ablonczy after a prescribed period of time. He said the memo from King was simply a routine document to signal the transfer of fiduciary responsibility.

Industry Canada did not provide any documents through Access to Information that indicated the pre-planned transfer of responsibility. An official notice of revocation of authority is generally communicated through senior bureaucrats charged with a department’s finances, rather than by a political staffer such as Clement’s chief of staff.

“Please contact me directly should you wish to discuss,” King writes at the end of his memo.

Following the Toronto Pride controversy, the government rejected a funding proposal from Montreal’s Divers-Cite festival.

Just Posted

Man accused of manslaughter in fatal collision testifies he was cut off

A Delburne man accused of causing a fatal collision said he was… Continue reading

Class size targets hard to reach in Red Deer

Red Deer Public Schools recently updated its average class size

Lotteries look to younger customers to increase sales

Promoting online and interactive games

Red Deer man helps light up the holidays for others

Jim Elliott’s in his 15th year of mapping the city’s most magical, lit-up homes

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Barry Cooper: Separation has become a real possibility, thanks to Ottawa’s abuses

In the past couple of weeks, a retired senior oil executive, Gwyn… Continue reading

Sex assault trial for former gymnastics coach resumes in Sarnia

SARNIA, Ont. — The trial of a former high-ranking gymnastics coach accused… Continue reading

Victims of former ski coach Charest say they were ‘sacrificed’ by Alpine Canada

MONTREAL — A lawsuit filed Wednesday against Alpine Canada by three victims… Continue reading

Emily Blunt on the ‘daunting’ task of playing Mary Poppins

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Emily Blunt loves a challenge, and in the… Continue reading

Tommy Chong says Canada’s weed legalization has kept ‘underground market alive’

TORONTO — Tommy Chong has a pass, man. While some Canadians who… Continue reading

Apple deepens Austin ties, expands operations east and west

AUSTIN, Texas — Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin,… Continue reading

Trump comments upend U.S. approach to Huawei, trade talks

WASHINGTON — The United States and China have taken pains this week… Continue reading

Most Read