Former Harper aide gets suspended sentence, ordered to do community service
Bruce Carson 'has become effectively unemployable,' says Ontario Superior justice
A one-time senior aide to former prime minister Stephen Harper has been given a suspended sentence with 12 months' probation and must do 100 hours of community service for committing a fraud against the government.
In her reasons for the sentence, Ontario Superior Justice Bonnie Warkentin said Bruce Carson had already suffered a great deal as a result of his actions.
In March, the Supreme Court of Canada said Carson was guilty of influence peddling after rejecting his interpretation of the law.
Carson was acquitted at trial over allegations that he tried to use his government connections to push the sale of water-purification systems for First Nations communities to provide a benefit for his then-girlfriend.
Carson's lawyers argued he couldn't be guilty of influencing a matter of business related to the government because the First Nations communities, not the government, would be the ones to decide whether to buy the water systems.
The Supreme Court denied Carson's appeal in an 8-1 decision.
Sentencing arguments took place in May.
The Crown had sought a conditional sentence of 18 months, with the first nine months of the sentence to consist of house arrest.
However, Warkentin noted in her reasons that Carson, now in his mid-70s, lost two well-paid positions following disclosure of the events in question, and that he now lives in a basement apartment in Gatineau, Que.
"He has become effectively unemployable."
Carson spends much of his time writing a daily political newsletter and lives on a modest pension income, Warkentin added.
The state of the law with respect to the offence "was uncertain" until the Supreme Court delivered its decision earlier this year, she said.
"The time that has elapsed since the conduct originally came to light in 2011, the dramatic negative effect this has had on Mr. Carson's life and the uncertain nature of the law with respect to this offence are all factors I have taken into consideration in determining what is a fair and just sentence."