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Harper felt betrayed after ex-aide tied to lobbying allegations, sources say

Bruce Carson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper now at the centre of an RCMP probe.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper felt personally betrayed when a former close adviser got into trouble over allegations of illegal lobbying, according to senior government sources.

They say Mr. Harper brought Bruce Carson into his office when the Conservatives came to office believing the disbarred and once-jailed ex-lawyer had paid his debt to society and deserved a chance to rebuild his life.

But Mr. Harper's sympathy did not extend as far as considering Mr. Carson for the job as his chief of staff.

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"He was lobbying for the chief's job, trying to line up support with people he thought might have some influence with the Prime Minister, but there was no way he was going to get that job and they put a stop to his lobbying very quickly," a high-level Conservative said.

The Prime Minister was aware of Mr. Carson's past, which included serving time in jail for defrauding clients.

Mr. Harper's feelings of betrayal might explain why the Prime Minister's Office so swiftly called in the RCMP to investigate allegations Mr. Carson lobbied for water company H20 Global Group, which wanted to sell filtration systems to native reserves.

The company employed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Michele McPherson, who reportedly signed a contract last Aug. 31 that would net her 20 per cent of the project's sales.

Ms. McPherson broke her silence Thursday, saying her contract was cancelled last month and acknowledging having once worked in the sex trade.

"As a young adolescent I faced some difficult challenges, I was recruited into the sex trade. As a vulnerable minor at the time it became extremely difficult to try and escape this," Ms. McPherson said in a statement. Postings on adult websites suggested she continued moonlighting as an escort during the period she was signing the H20 contract toward the end of August, but Ms. McPherson suggested someone else was behind them.

Mr. Carson met senior officials in the office of the Indian Affairs Minister on Jan. 11 to discuss the company and a native water filtration project.

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He also broached water issues in native communities with Environment Minister Peter Kent last month, but the minister's spokesman said he wasn't lobbying for a company.

H20 Global Group says Mr. Carson never lobbied for it.

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