UNITED STATES, Bakersfield : A general view shows oil pumping jacks and drilling pads at the Kern River Oil Field where the principle operator is the Chevron Corporation in Bakersfield, California on July 28, 2015. The field is the third largest in California, fifth largest in the United States and relies mainly on the steam injection method to extract the crude oil. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON                        

Conservative insider won huge contract to build Harper’s Arctic project

A hugely expensive public contract to build an Arctic research station —promoted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper —went to a joint venture that included a company run by a Conservative Party insider with close ties to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the National Observer has confirmed.

An $85-million construction contract to build the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) was awarded in June 2013 to a partnership between EllisDon and NCC Dowland Construction —the latter is controlled by a prominent Iqaluit businessman, Greg Cayen, who has been a key planner behind Leona Aglukkaq’s two federal election victories.

Work is now underway on the two-storey “world class” Arctic facility in Aglukkaq’s home riding of Nunavut in the isolated hamlet of Cambridge Bay, population 1,600.

CHARS is a signature piece of the Prime Minister’s northern strategy, and will focus federal research on supporting Arctic oil, gas and mining extraction, as well as predicting the impacts of climate change on “shipping, communities and infrastructure.”

Stephen Harper was so enthused by the project that he journeyed to the barren site —in his ninth annual Arctic visit —in August 2014. He smiled with a shovel for the groundbreaking ceremony, and gave the project high level publicity with his PMO press releases.

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