Cancer centre dumps Porter over concerns about health, fraud allegations

OTTAWA – Arthur Porter has been replaced as the man in charge of a long-delayed, multimillion-dollar Caribbean cancer centre over concerns about his health and the allegations of fraud he faces in Canada.

The controversial former head of Canada’s spy watchdog is caught up in a number of allegations swirling around a billion-dollar Montreal mega-hospital development.

The Canadian government is now trying to extradite Porter — a medical doctor who has been self-diagnosed with cancer — from the Bahamas.

Those troubles precipitated Porter’s departure this week from the $5-million Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean project being built in the Antigua and Barbuda capital of St. John’s.

“In light of … Arthur Porter’s recently diagnosed advanced lung cancer and media reports related to concerns in Canada, Dr. Porter has graciously suggested the transfer of the chairmanship of TCCEC,” said a government release.

One of Porter’s associates will take over the project. Another doctor will replace Porter as the cancer centre’s managing director and interim head of radiation oncology.

The cancer centre was supposed to have been built months ago, but construction only got underway this week. The Antigua and Barbuda government acknowledged the project has faced “many delays” since it was announced nearly a year ago.

The Antigua and Barbuda cancer centre is being modelled after the clinic Porter runs in the Bahamas. He also puts in time at a medical clinic in the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands.

Porter is among the five people named in arrest warrants issued by Quebec’s anti-corruption squad in the McGill hospital case. Also named are former SNC Lavalin senior executives Pierre Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa, Yanai Elbaz and Jeremy Morris, the administrator of a Bahamas-based investment company.

The warrants say the men are wanted on numerous charges — including fraud, breach of trust and document forgery.

The allegations have raised questions about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to appoint Porter to the Security Intelligence Review Committee in September 2008. The Conservatives insist the fraud allegations have nothing to do with Porter’s role at SIRC.

Porter rose to SIRC chair before resigning in November 2011 after reports surfaced about his past business dealings.

In addition to being head of SIRC, Porter was also the director general of the McGill University Hospital Centre when the alleged fraud occurred.

There are now calls for Harper to remove Porter from the Privy Council.

Porter has also come under fire for his political donations. Public records show he gave the federal Conservatives $2,200 while at SIRC — against Privy Council Office guidelines.

He is the only former SIRC chair to gave money to a political party in recent years. Other former SIRC members say they were pointedly told not to donate.

Porter has yet to return a message left with a receptionist at his clinic in the Bahamas.