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Adscam whistleblower to seek Conservative nomination

[PoliticsWatch Updated 11:45 p.m. November 23, 2005]

OTTAWA  — Allan Cutler, the public servant who first raised red flags about the bureaucrat in charge of the sponsorship program, announced Wednesday he was seeking the Conservative Party nomination in an Ottawa-area riding. 

Cutler's decision to run for the Conservatives fits well with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's plans to focus on government ethics in the upcoming federal election. 

Harper introduced Cutler to a Conservative caucus meeting where reporters were in attendance. 

"I believe that in his quiet and unassuming way he is a genuine Canadian hero," Harper told MPs. 

Cutler will seek the party's nomination in the riding of Ottawa South, which is currently held by David McGuinty, the brother of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. The Liberals won the riding in the 2004 campaign with 5,300 votes more than the Conservatives. 

The Conservatives have not won the riding since 1984, when Brian Mulroney was elected with a record majority. 

Cutler said he decided to get political because he was impressed with Harper's promise to make The Federal Accountability Act, the first piece of legislation to be tabled if the Conservatives are elected. 

Harper's proposal is a wide ranging ethics package that has won praise from various public interest groups across the country for its crackdown on lobbying and political financing. 

"What you have is a culture that needs to be changed," Cutler said. 

He also said he does not believe he is sacrificing personal integrity by entering the political ring and believes his decision to blow the whistle years ago proves "beyond a doubt that that would never be the case, I would never do that."

Cutler worked in the department of Public Works under Chuck Guite, the bureaucrat who went on to run the sponsorship program. 

He told a parliamentary committee that in 1994 he became concerned about how Guite ran the office and some practices, such as contracts regularly being backdated, commissions paid for services apparently not performed and improper advance payments.

Cutler complained to his union who informed an assistant deputy minister in Public Works. An internal audit was conducted and backed Cutler's allegations, but Cutler was never informed about the findings of the audit, Guite continued to be promoted within the public service and Cutler's job was declared "surplus" by Guite.

"I was not employed in Mr. Guité's group when the sponsorship program started in 1997," Cutler told the Public Accounts committee last year. "However, I believe that many of the problems identified in the sponsorship program had originated earlier."

Cutler was singled in Justice John Gomery's recent report on the sponsorship scandal. 

"The only subordinate who challenged Mr. Guite's authority when he was told not to follow required procedures was Mr. Allan Cutler, and the consequences of his defiance were immediate and dramatic," Gomery wrote in his report. 

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