October 14, 2005

That "rogue civil servant" explanation

Oct. 14 - Testimony previously under publication ban has been released by Judge Gomery which gives a closer look at the financial relationship between Jean Brault and Chuck Guite (Money bound Brault and Guite) all of which seems to be in line with the "rogue civil servant" explanation:

Both men said that after he left the federal civil service in 1999, Guite collected thousands of dollars for advising Brault on how to boost his business, often at the expense of taxpayers.

Guite and Brault are now charged with conspiracy and defrauding the government of nearly $2 million. Their trial is set for May 2006. The testimony made public Friday does not touch on any of the contracts that resulted in criminal charges.


The testimony illustrates the cosy, back-scratching environment that exploded into the $250-million sponsorship fiasco, which featured ad agencies and other middle-men collecting $100 million, often for little or no work.


According to Brault's testimony, his involvement began at the Vancouver Molson Indy auto race in 1995 where Guite taught him how federal sponsorships were really run.

"That's where he showed me that there was a sponsorship the government gave to (advertising company) Lafleur, and by spending three days in jeans with a beer in hand it's much easier to establish contacts," Brault said in the testimony.

"It was the first time that I would say I sowed, as we say in the business, a little seed to get one of these non-conventional contracts."

Both Guite and Brault reaped the harvest. While Brault gathered millions in ad contracts through his firm Groupaction, Guite picked smaller fruit at first.

Both men say Brault gave Guite high-performance Pirelli tires in 1997 for his brand new Ford Mustang. Brault's company billed the sponsorship program more than $1,300 for the tires. A few months later, Brault bought the car from Guite for $35,000 after Guite decided he was too old for a sports car.


Guite testified that Groupaction purchased expensive tickets for him and his family for the Italian Grand Prix in 1998.

Guite said that once he left the public service in 1999 he worked on contracts for Groupaction, receiving $76,000 from the company through August 2000.

Brault said he had put Guite on a $10,000 monthly retainer by 2001 for his "vast knowledge of ... the potential of different organizations working on communications in Canada."

According to Brault, his company gave more than $136,000 to Oro Communications, Guite's firm, from 1999 through 2002.

Guite said he borrowed $25,000 from a Groupaction subsidiary, Alexism Inc., to purchase a boat in 2001.

Guite was to repay the money from a $125,000 commission he was to receive later that year from Brault on a handshake deal. The repayment plan was interrupted when the sponsorship scandal broke and became a criminal case.

Guite said he still intends to repay the money, with interest.

Other testimony released Friday highlighted other aspects of the sponsorship file:

--Paul Coffin, the first man convicted of fraud in the sponsorship program, testified that Guite told him to fabricate invoices to cash in on sponsorships. Coffin pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud earlier this year and received a sentence to be served in the community. The sentence is under appeal.

-- Brault testified that Guite pressed him into making a $50,000 donation to Jean Charest's provincial Liberals through ad agency Groupe Everest in 1998. Brault said Guite named Charest, saying "We must send $50,000 to Charest." Brault later qualified the statement by saying Guite was talking about the Charest campaign, not Charest personally.

Guite denies the accusations.

So much for Guite, Brault and Coffin, but the question lingers: what the hell were those elected to run the country and oversee expenditures doing? Either they were doing their job and Guite, Brault, Coffin and others were doing what they were expected to do, or those elected weren't doing their jobs so what the hell good are they and why would Canadians entrust their future to such fall downs?

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

Greg Weston on Coffin's sentence

Sept. 22 - Greg Weston writes on the incredibly harsh sentence given to the first convicted participant in Adscam (from Coffin nails Liberals?):

OTTAWA -- The Quebec judge who sentenced one of the AdScam con men to a wrist-slapping for stealing $1.5 million has certainly sent a clear message to all who would even consider ripping off the government.

In the immortal shrug of Jean Chretien: "So, maybe a few million was stolen."

For 15 counts of deliberate and systematic fraud, Montreal advertising executive Paul Coffin was sentenced this week to two years less a day "to be served in the community."

Translated, he has to be home by 9 p.m. weeknights, and lecture university students on "business ethics."

Coffin's pitch to so many young minds will no doubt include horror stories about how his utter lack of business ethics condemned him to a miserable life of big boats, fast cars, fancy houses and expensive wines.

I'm not surprised, but nonetheless I feel ashamed for this fine country.

Paul Coffin betrayed the people he was supposed to serve. He betrayed every single Canadian but the court has ruled that it's no big deal.

Does the word honour even have meaning these days? If it doesn't, and I am becoming increasingly certain that it does not, then dishonour too seemingly has no meaning. And that is the government we're stuck with.

13:57 Sleep can wait; Darcy lends some much needed perspective into Coffin's gentle treatment. Now I'm getting mad again.

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Double-dealing in Librano-land

June 16 - The Judge is Angry:

MONTREAL - First, it was Jean Chretien taking John Gomery to court. Now, Justice Gomery is taking Paul Martin to court.

What gives? Gomery is annoyed that the Martin government had a secret exchange of letters with Chretien's lawyers acknowledging that even as the former prime minister dropped his court case alleging Gomery's bias against him, he could make the same accusations later after the release of the judge's findings.

Gomery didn't know about the letter. He read about it in the papers. And he's furious. The Martin government professes to support him, but it looks as if it was undermining him.

The May 30 letter was signed by federal government lawyer Brian Saunders, but as far as the Gomery Commission is concerned, it was approved by the Clerk of the Privy Council, Alex Himelfarb. Mere government lawyers, acting on their own, don't make deals on behalf of one prime minister with another.

By coincidence, or not, May 30 was the same day Chretien's lawyers withdrew his case, removing a very inconvenient obstacle from the Martin government's path to political recovery.

Gomery was having none of it. The next day the judge said he would take the Martin government to the Federal Court to clear the air about his alleged bias, before he sits down to write his findings and recommendations. His lawyer, Lorne Morphy, complained in a letter to the government that the exchange of letters with Chretien puts "Justice Gomery and the commission in an extremely delicate position" and that to have the allegations of bias hanging out there "is, simply put, unacceptable."

Newsbeat1 has the excerpts from yesterday's Question Period on this issue here.

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (6)

A bewildering number of lawsuits

June 16 - My question about the libel suit against David Frum has been answered - in spades. Many thanks to Candace for finding this discussion thread on the Frum column and for digging up an older item on Adscam-related lawsuits.

I'll state this up front: I believe it is up to bloggers to stand by and defend these commentators. It pisses me off beyond reason that their colleagues are not doing so, but things are what they are in Canada these days and it won't be the first time bloggers were trailblazers.

Frum wrote he has been served with papers accusing him of libel.

There are confirmed reports that National Post columnist Andrew Coyne and reporter Laurent Soumis of the Journal de Montreal have also been served and, although I have yet to find confirmation, CTV's Mike Duffy and Warren Kinsella may also have been served. (Note that I have no way of ascertaining if these four as the ones to which Frum was referring and there are in fact good reason to doubt this is the case.)

Of necessity this is a fairly long post so click on the extended entry for more, but I'm putting Kate's opening on this side of the post because she tears a deservedly giant strip off the feckless Canadian media:

In any sane democratic country, a slap suit against an opinion columnist by a government operative would provoke outrage and non-stop editorials in the mainstream press. The item would be leading the newscasts, with punditry convening soberly on our TV screens. Reporter scrums would pepper government leaders to explain their actions in curtailling that most hallowed (in their eyes) of all freedoms - freedom of the press.

But of course, this is Canada - a nation of "natural governing" one-party rule in which a "living" constitution permits such limits on speech as are consistant with a Liberal Kleptocracy.

So, as the Liberals draft laws that push more and more areas of government operation outside the reach of Freedom of Information requests, weaken protections for whistleblowers, when they brazenly refuse to acknowledge the defeat of their government in non-confidence motions and ignore the Auditor Generals concerns about billions of tax dollars being funneled into unaccountable foundations - the Lloyd Robertsons and Peter Mansbridges busy themselves studiously studying Stephen Harper's facial expressions and providing Canadians "Better News Through Polling" .

They remain virtually silent on the assaults on members of their own profession - silent, because for the most part, the majority of mainstream media in Canada functions as nothing short of a communications arm of the Liberal Party. In other words, they see themselves as nothing less than an unelected arm of government.

I'd ask that Americans readers try (and I know it's hard) to keep in mind that the truth is not relevant in libel suits up here. Also keep in mind that, as I am constitutionally incapable of understanding the libel laws up here because they conflict with my cultural bias toward inherent rights, I have no idea if any of the statements allegedly made by the defendents are libelous under Canadian law.

I don't know if this column is what prompted Tim Murphy to have Andrew Coyne served, but anyone who has read his blog and columns knows that Coyne is damned good at linking to his sources of information and writes well-reasoned columns and posts. I could see why they would want to silence him if we lived in Iran or Zimbabwe, but we don't.

I can't ensure the veracity of this post at the CNEWS forum, but it served as a damned good starting point to pursue the other threads of this story and I was able to confirm at least part of its information.

On the libel suit against David Frum:

Terrie O'Leary vs National Post, CanWest Publications and David Frum: Sent libel notice related to the May 17 edition of the National Post in which Frum wrote, "They might observe that he never manipulated government contracts to direct business in a firm run by his chief of staff's boyfriend." O'Leary claims that the statement is defamatory and calculated to disparage her both as a person and in her former capacity as Executive Asst. to the Minister of Finance of Canada.
I don't know if this is the cause of Frum's notice, but the ironically titled May 17 column Averting Their Eyes from Scandal - Since 1993, Ottawa's Press Corps Has Been Taking a Nice, Long Nap can still be read online. (Links for the the hearings on the Earnscliffe contracts are here and here.)

Mike Duffy of CTV is also rumoured to be sued:

Liberal Party organizer/PMO staffer Karl Littler vs Mike Duffy CTV: Suing for defamation over remarks Duffy made about Littler visiting strip clubs and engaging in improper and unlawful behaviour due to his position as an official of the Liberal Party and Deputy Chief of Staff to PM. Seeking $250 thousand in general damages, $50 thousand in punitive damages.
The remarks were probably made on air so there isn't a link (at least one that I could find.) The best I found was a CTV article in this post from Angry about whistleblower Allan Cutler and staffer Karl Littler (but there's nothing about strip clubs in it.)

And yet another journalist:

BCP Communications, John Parisella, Yves Gougoux vs Sun Media, Canoe and Laurent Soumis: Suing for defamation over May 12 article written by Soumis. The article linked BCP to allegations that Liberal Party election expenses were paid out of the sponsorship program. Seeking $250 thousand in real damages from each defendant, $100 thousand in exemplary damages from each defendant.
I couldn't find a May 12 article in the English Canoe archives, but the Canoe search feature turned up confirmation of the lawsuit against Laurent Soumis in .pdf here and other search results of articles by Sourmis (in French) are here. A quick check in Google turned up this translated item from CBC Radio Canada on testimony about BCP here but it consists mostly of denials.

Frum reported here

Along with at least four other public commentators, I have recently been served with libel papers by a leading figure in this story.
Frum declined to state the name of his accuser so I am going to respect Frum's reticence and not play pin the tail on the donkey.

Blogger Warren Kinsella is supposedly being sued over what he wrote on his blog:

Terrie O'Leary, Earnscliffe Research and Communications vs Warren Kinsella: Libel notices issued to Kinsella and warrenkinsella.com on behalf of Earnscliffe and to Andrew Davis over his reprinting and highlighting of transcript from his appearance before the Public Accts. Committee.
The hearings were published and televised, but for all I know there could be some law forbidding Kinsella to write about it. (If this is true it is worthy of Bizarro World.)

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Kinsella may also be suing on his own behalf:

Warren Kinsella vs Scott Reid: In his blog Kinsella has indicated that he would sue the PMO official for suggesting that he had committed perjury in his appearance before the Public Accts. Committee last month.
Hey, anyone can play! The CPC is suing Immigration Minister John Volpe:
Conservative MP Lee Richardson vs Immigration Minister Joe Volpe: Libel notice filed against Volpe after Volpe associated Mr. Richardson and the Conservative Party with the Ku Klux Klan.
And of course we musn't forget the suits filed by fired patronage appointees Jean Pelletier, Marc LeFrancois, and Alfonso Gagliano who are suing the Canadian government because they deem their reputations were besmirched due to their alleged involvements in Adscam. I don't want to be sued so I'd best not speculate if these lawsuits are Golden Handshakes Librano Style.

Lastly, the Canadian government is suing various people over Adscam (although I don't see Jacques Corriveau on that list.)

Francois Beaudoin won his lawsuit and, more importantly, was vindicated, but what of Miriam Bedard who was crudely attacked by her former boss Pelletier and for which he was supposedly dismissed? (see 2 paragraphs up and remember: Bizarro World.)

Lastly, the Chretien threat to challenge to Judge Gomery is still hanging like a Damocles Sword over the Inquiry and Liberal lawyers are urging Judge Gomery to exonerate both Chretien and Martin.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 AM | Comments (5)

May 29, 2005

The Librano family business

May 29 - Ben Macintyre writes tongue in cheek for the London Times on the Canadian-American and French-British rivalries in Everybody needs bad neighbours:

In our thoroughly globalised world, the US and Canada, France and Britain, cling anachronistically to their singular, ancient rivalries. Australia and New Zealand look further afield than each other for economic comparisons; Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not expend energy anxiously surveying their respective sex lives. But the English Channel and the US border with Canada remain the distorting, two-way mirrors through which these neighbours perceive themselves.
He emphasizes his point that the British-French rivalry is of the sibling order by a quote from columnist Claude Imbert in Le Point "To those French who still believe that Britain is a former Norman colony that went wrong ..." Ouch. We credit the Normans with doubling the English language and introducing chimneys but tend to believe the invaders were, in due time, anglicized, and can always view Shakespeare's account of the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V with some pride so long as we can gather our coats and file out of the theatre thus missing the final lines on the failure of the next generation to retain what Henry V won.

Americans and Canadians will, at the drop of a hat, bring up the War of 1812 and work backward to 1776 to present our list of grievances, but that list seems downright contemporary compared to two countries who can begin theirs in 1066.

Macintyre is looking at a bigger picture set in European terms and his conclusions are interesting but he doesn't address (or perhaps even know about) the impact of Adscam on Canadian thinking and sensibilities.

The family nature of U.S. and Canadian relations is one that we tend to rush past and it has been made easier by the wholesale re-write of history which de-emphasizes British rule and influence up here in order to side-step the end of French rule at the Plains of Abraham (Canada's Culloden, if you will) which brought a reluctant step-brother into the family.

The current scandel proves the point that we can re-write history but we can't undo it. Adscam is directly related to (if only because it formed the pretext for) anglo- and franco-Canadian relations, and many of us are re-examining our former attitudes to the cause of Quebec sovereignty and recognizing that the exposure of how basely that issue was manipulated by the Liberal Party in their pursuit of one-party rule justifies Quebec outrage and, further, may have irreparably damaged prospects for a truly united Canada.

The divide-and-conquer strategy of the Libranos is being exposed, and some are beginning to realize that the implications go far beyond Quebec and permeate the very weave of today's Canada.

Every time Bombardier is granted a contract there are grumblings in Ontario, but which profit most when the contracts are awarded to Quebec: Quebeckers or those who own Bombardier? It's past time to get deeply suspicious of the quasi-Socialist pretentions of the Libranos and look closer at who gains from these contracts. If it is done in the name of national, or family, unity, then why are the kids bickering?

Once the Libranos decided that they were the natural governing party of Canada and set about to do whatever they could to assert their rule they forgot the danger that the kids might get together and compare notes. Some are noticing that one family analogy which may fit is that of a parent who purposefully incites quarrels between the adult children in order keep them bitterly divided and, in the case of a wealthy family with sizeable assets, ensures they will continue to pander to the parent in order to get what they perceive to be their rightful shares.

But Quebec and the West have had enough and, within their own families, are seriously thinking of getting out of the family business and setting up their own. Ontario is the "good eldest child" -- compliant and obediently determined to uphold the patriarch's dominance (although it privately feels that it should get more for its loyalty than the parent is alloting) and is so invested in the family business that it tends to dismiss the mutterings of those who wonder if the price of unity is worth the cost of their dignity.

Like many parents, the Libranos shrug aside the signs of rebellion, thinking that "kids will be kids," and forgetting that the blind love of children for the parent is replaced by a more critical view once the kids grow up. Should the judgement be that the parental unit makes decisions more for its own benefit than that of the family as a whole then the justification for maintaining family unity is lost.

They played a good hand when they projected Paul Martin in the role of the sympathetic "other" parent and, by seeming to overthrew Chretien's iron rule, he gained some traction by apologizing to the kids for taking them and their contributions for granted and promising to address their concerns and to treat them with more respect, fix the democratic deficit, and distribute more of the profits from the family business.

But then the family quarrel was aired in the Commons, and the Libranos retained power by marrying both the NDP and Belinda Stronach and pre-emptively gave a larger share of the profits to the kids. Martin thus, to all appearances, retained control as this placated some of them, but there is a limit to how often that strategy can be successfully employed.

He will likely take the opportunity at the next family gathering (which would be the next election) to praise the children profusely and humbly, and this will work only to the extent that the kids are denied a thorough understanding of the business accounts for the family in part because foundations which receive federal money are not accountable for how they spend that money.

There is another who wishes to be made head of the family, and some of the siblings use their distrust or dislike of Harper as a pretext for their continued support for the Libranos, but I am genuinely perplexed that, by inference, Joe Clark is somehow be seen as more likeable and charismatic than Harper.

[In contrast, President Bush has many qualities I admire but even I wouldn't call him charismatic. My support for him stems from support for his policies, so his personal appeal is not even a factor. The same can be said for Australian PM Howard.]

I also fail to see how anyone can pretend that Paul Martin has personal appeal, and I am stunned that people still worry about the "hidden agenda" of the Conservative Party when, should the allegations at the Gomery Inquiry be proven, it would seem that it is the Libranos who had the hidden agenda and it was to enrich themselves and their friends at public expense rather than anything that resembled governance.

Oddly enough, it may be the experience of living under Liberal despotism that causes fears about the Conservatives; people may believe that the CPC is as capable of forcing unpopular legislation through Parliament as the Liberals.

I hope the Conservatives use the next period to craft and state their policies. Their failure to do so is probably due more to being a new party and needing to have those kind of discussions among their members but Eastern voters are not likely to buy another pig in a poke.

Canadians are facing a dilemma of another sort though when the media projects the value of personal appeal over policies. Is it possible to maintain illusions once the blinkers are off? The polls seem to say yes, and that is the challenge for both the Libranos and the opposition parties - everywhere except Quebec, that is. They, at least, had the grace to feel insulted by the bribery, and rightly wonder how much the rest of the family truly values them when the others don't share in that outrage.

And that's the real pity.

(Links via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:46 PM | Comments (6)

Noble Gestures

May 29 - Emergency at work - I was called in this evening* and just got home.

Maz2 and Tony kept the ball rolling these last few days (thanks!) and Andrew Coyne has a post has with a great title: It's a vast right-wing punditocracy! (of course it is) The post has some interesting links on the allegations that members of the Conservative Party were offered inducements to abstain or be absent for the Real and Official Non-Confidence Vote last week.

I particularly like the first one from the Vancouver Sun (link no good unless you have a subscription) in which Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, scores a grand-slam by making what to my mind is the critical point about using patronage appointments as a form of bribery:

"In my view, the latter is every bit as serious as the former. Perhaps more serious, since the harm to Canada may last longer and be more serious than the 'mere' loss of public money."
Having an elected Senate would be my first choice for Parliamentary reform. Ya hear that, Belinda?

Mark the calandar on this: we learned that Man of Culture Jacques Corriveau is into making Noble Gestures which is why he put 4 volunteers for the Liberal Party on his payroll even though they did no work for him:

Corriveau said he hired Serge Gosselin at his firm Pluridesign in 1999 and paid him $55,000 -- half of that for Liberal-related work.

Pluridesign's financial statements show Corriveau put three other Liberal staffers on his payroll after the 1997 election, paying them $86,509 from 1998 to 2000.

He said he made the backdoor donations to the Grits at the request of ex-Quebec party head Michel Beliveau, adding he felt obliged to after billing $1 million for printing election signs.

I can see why he might feel indebted to the Liberal Party.

I am so very happy that the medical condition which had prevented him from recollecting certain things has improved and am hopeful he will be able to remember even more things.

*Make that yesterday evening, i.e, Saturday evening.

Posted by Debbye at 01:23 AM | Comments (4)

May 25, 2005

PM's aide Gaetano Manganiello testifies before Gomery

May 25 - PMO staffer says sponsorship firm paid him $25,000 for Liberal work:

An aide in Prime Minister Paul Martin's office told the sponsorship inquiry Wednesday he was paid $28,000 under the table to work for the Liberals in the late 1990s.

Gaetano Manganiello, who is on a paid leave of absence from his job as a media officer in the PMO, said he worked off the books as a party logistics specialist in 1998 and 1999. He said the then-boss of the party's Quebec wing, Benoit Corbeil, approached him at the Montreal headquarters and said the party was in dire financial straights.

Corbeil said the party could no longer afford his salary but explained the Pluri Design graphic firm, owned by Jean Chretien's friend Jacques Corriveau, could step in to pay him, Manganiello testified.

"I was informed by Mr. Corbeil that Pluri Design would pay my salary but I would continue working at the Liberal party," Manganiello told the inquiry, saying he was on the firm's payroll for nine months.

"He (Corbeil) didn't tell me why, but in all fairness, I didn't ask why either."

Gomery's comments as to what has and has not been established about Brault's allegations of illegal contributions are also in the article.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005

Kroll Report

May 24 - The Kroll Report (from the Adscam auditors) can be viewed here.

May 25 - 06:50 - There's a discussion about the future of the Maritime provinces should confederation collapse in the comments well worth reading. Feel free to join in.

Posted by Debbye at 06:31 PM | Comments (7)

Crunching some Adscam numbers

May 24 - Angry in the Great White North has a breakdown of some of the numbers that came out of today's session of the Gomery Inquiry and has a Sample of how the government manages our money:

Out of a total of $46.32 million:
$460,000, or 1%, went to sponsorship
$8.34 million, or 18%, went to actual work done
$26 million, or 56%, went to "unrelated or unknown parties"
$11.52 million, or 25%, was unspent or the invoices were not found

"Not found." Went to "unrelated or unknown parties."

I have no words.

Posted by Debbye at 06:21 PM | Comments (2)

Now on CPAC - Gomery Inquiry (updating)

May 24 - The session of the Gomery Inquiry currently being aired on CPAC is (at least partially - it's not over yet) in English ... transcript should be available tonight here.

From Newsbeat 1:

Sponsorship loss may be an additional $100 million (CTV says it would now total $355 million)

Groupaction Marketing, which allegedly funded the federal Liberals under the table for years, issued $406,000 in cheques that could have been converted to cash, says a report tabled at the Gomery inquiry Tuesday and,

Kroll also attached a dollar figure to all contributions to the Liberals - registered and unregistered - heard during testimony at the inquiry.

The auditors said $768,000 was donated above board to the party and added, "if the amounts identified by Mr. Brault as payments for a political purpose are included, this amount rises to $2.5 million."


Documents previously tabled at the inquiry indicate Brault paid the $430,000 to the Pluri Design firm owned by graphic designer Jacques Corriveau, a friend of former prime minister Jean Chretien. Brault has said Corriveau told him the money was destined for the Liberals.

Kroll, while not backing the claim, said "the available documentation does not indicate what services, if any, were provided by PluriDesign to Groupaction for the $430,370 it received."

The auditors said they requested Corriveau's bank statements from 1994 to 1999, along with other financial data, but that the information was "not available for our review."

Coffin may plead guilty.

Gagliano loses suit - Gomery stays. As for Chretien,

If Chretien wins a favourable court ruling, it could block Gomery from delivering two reports planned for the end of the year.
And the elections Martin promised were for after the report was issued.

During the break, you might want to read today's editorial in the Toronto Sun.

Unrelated to Adscam but good nonetheless, Paul Jackson gives some good advice to the "spoiled brats of the entertainment world."

15:55 - Session is back on.

Posted by Debbye at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Tax-payers foot bill for Liberals (again)

May 24 - The weight of the Liberal Party's notion of how to best protect their own interests good governance daily becomes more unbearable. The latest: Taxpayers foot $1M bill for Liberals' sponsorship 'war room' for a secret team that monitors the Gomery Inquiry and preps the Prime Minister for questions that might be raised in the House of Commons:

Documents obtained by the Citizen through the Access to Information Act reveal that the rapid-response war room, which is in almost daily contact with the Prime Minister's Office and the government's top bureaucrat, Alex Himelfarb, operates out of the Privy Council Office.

The cost of the strategic office, which does everything from preparing answers for question period in the House of Commons to keeping the Prime Minister's Office abreast of testimony at the inquiry, covers the salaries of staff and expenses.

The war room and its cost came to light on the heels of last week's complaints from Justice John Gomery about officials exaggerating the cost of his inquiry.

Officials at the commission looking into the sponsorship scandal say the total cost of the actual inquiry will come in under $32 million. Judge Gomery said government officials have "leaked" to the media that it is costing departments another $40 million to cover costs at four key departments, including the Privy Council Office. "It's an exaggeration and it's twisting reality," Judge Gomery said last week.

Revelations from the inquiry, which is digging into the $250-million sponsorship scheme, forced the Liberals to set aside $750,000 in a trust fund to pay back money improperly obtained by the party.

One memo to Mr. Himelfarb indicates the strategy office was set up almost immediately after the Martin government launched the inquiry in February 2004 upon the release of Auditor General Sheila Fraser's damning report on the sponsorship program.

Dated Feb. 18, 2004, the memo describes "the intergovernmental co-ordination group" being set up in the PCO, the nerve centre of the federal government, under the proposed direction of bureaucrat Guy McKenzie. However, the summary and attachments are mostly blanked out, under section 23 of the Access to Information Act, due to "solicitor/client privilege."

The office's operating budget now totals $1,068,000 after its first-year budget of $534,000 in 2004-05 was renewed for a second year, according to Hali Gernon of the PCO.

Remember when I expressed some sympathy for why the Conservative Party might not want to release the Grewal-Murphy tape to the RCMP? Read this next bit:
Ms. Gernon said the office has a small staff of about "four or five" employees and since June 2004 has been under the direction of lawyer Ursula Menke, the former deputy commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The team will continue to operate until the Inquiry concludes and "until the end of the fiscal year to allow any required followup to the inquiry."
Judge Gomery has made it clear he doesn't appreciate the Martin government adding its hidden costs to his overall budget. In an exchange with an ad executive, the judge said: "What they did was ... put together the fees of everyone in the Justice Department that worked on the file, the photocopies they made at the PCO and God knows what other expenses that were totally beyond the commission's control."
Bookkeeping, Librano style. Judge Gomery knows it well.

Posted by Debbye at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2005

Accountability in public service

May 18 - Testimony in yesterday's session of the Gomery Inquiry focused on the extent to which public servants are held to account when they violate guidelines and even laws, and Judge Gomery stated that it appears that Bureaucrats get off easy:

"Sometimes you get people who just, more or less deliberately, disregard the law," the judge told Stephen Wallace, a top official at the Treasury Board secretariat.

"There have been, it seems to me, well-documented instances of mismanagement . . . and I didn't see that they had any consequences on the employment of anybody.

"What happens if you find somebody who's just a bad apple?"

Wallace said managers in fact have the power to suspend, demote or fire employees who break internal rules.

But he acknowledged that power isn't always exercised.


Wallace was among a panel of public-service managers who appeared before Gomery to explain what has changed in government since Prime Minister Paul Martin shut down the scandal-plagued sponsorship program in 2003.

The responses were mixed.

Wallace said plans are in the works for tighter financial controls, better training for managers with signing authority as well as more detailed audits.

But government-wide training courses, including those ensuring bureaucrats know the law, have yet to be implemented, said Wallace.

Public Works official Richard Robesco, who oversees 450 government ad contracts, told the inquiry that training measures in his department haven't been updated recently.

Or, evidently, a code of ethics.

What recourse do we have when the civil service - those on whom we rely to ensure government is run honestly - violates our trust? An election that ends Liberal rule will restore some confidence, but the number of programs that have been mismanaged would seem to indicate that the rot goes deeper and is not limited to elected positions.

It seems sometime punishments are handed out, though, as in this controversy over a contract that was first reported August, 2003, and resulted in a chastisement:

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal has chastised the federal Liberals for failing to follow contracting rules and ordered a re-evaluation of bids on a moving contract plagued by allegations of favouritism.

The CITT backed Envoy Relocation's complaint that its bid was shortchanged by the feds last year, ordering the government to cut a $2,400 cheque to cover the real estate company's complaint costs.

The CITT has also given Public Works 15 days to have a fresh evaluation committee comb through the bids and "if this re-evaluation results in a new winning bidder ... the existing contract should be cancelled and awarded to that bidder."

The ruling is the latest in a war waged between real estate giants vying for the lucrative contract most recently awarded to Royal LePage Relocation last year.

The Commons public accounts committee will vote today on whether to ask the Auditor General to probe the contract.

(Link from AC.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2005

Take Back the Hill

May 17 - The last-minute "Take Back the Hill" rally yesterday was predictably small and Bruce reports that "it collided with a much larger farm protest, leaving the farmers firmly in control. But there was plenty of common ground between the groups, so I don't think anyone minded." He has photos.

More photos at Ravishing Light who makes an astute obserservation:

it's hard to piggyback specific discontent with the federal Liberals onto largely rural, unfocused discontent with ... all levels of government.
True enough. Adscam represents one, specific grievance: the outright theft of our tax dollars to promote the Liberal Party with the sole objective of achieving a one-party state (and if a few dollars happened to drop in a few pockets, it was all for a Good Cause.)

That should be sufficient to bring us all under a single banner regardless of party affiliation or political bent, as I suspect that even loyal Liberals are ashamed that their party was so base.

Links via Glenda, who makes this point:

Rural folk truly are angry enough to spit feathers.
So are truckers, parents, office workers (including a lot of outraged government employees,) health care workers, teachers, seniors, ______ (fill in the blank,) and yeah, ME.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

Sheila Fraser before Gomery Inquiry

May 17 - Canada's favourite Auditor-General, Sheila Fraser, appeared before the Gomery Inquiry yesterday saying that she found Ad activities 'troubling'.

There are numerous instances where there was no paper trail to follow - and remember, this is what started the initial investigation:

When Fraser first looked into the sponsorship affair in 2002 - reviewing only three deals that had come to light by then - she concluded senior bureaucrats had broken nearly "every rule in the book" in awarding contracts to private-sector advertising and public relations firms.
Although there are no new revelations in the article, it is a quick reminder of some of the items that have fueled our outrage since the publication ban on Jean Brault's testimony was lifted.

The transcript for yesterday's testimony is up (requires Adobe Acrobat - it's a .pdf file) here or, if that doesn't work, go to transcripts and select May 16.

Ms. Fraser's testimony is in French but Assistant Auditor-General Ronald Campbell's testimony is in English, by the way.

Posted by Debbye at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005


May 13 - Sorry about the light posting. CPAC today has been far more interesting than anything I could write.

When I got in this morning, I switched on CPAC in hopes of seeing some testimony from yesterday's testimony of the Gomery Inquiry, but instead there was testimony from a Commons committee. I was about to switch to a news channel when I heard the name "Earnscliffe" and looked closer at the TV screen. It said April 18, and was indeed the testimony was before the Commons public accounts committee posted about here and here.

I was shocked at how whiny Terrie O'Leary and David Herle were, whereas Allan Cutler and (this is really hard to write) Warren Kinsella were professional and direct. As I had come in at the tail end I missed what Auditor-General Sheila Fraser might have said, which is regrettable.

[Maybe "testimony" is the wrong word. Everyone called before the committee is seated together at a table and Committee members (seated at an opposite table) can direct questions at whoever they chose in whatever order they chose. My prior concept of testimony before a committee had been for one person at a time to appear and answer questions.]

Beryl Wajsman's testimony at the Gomery Inquiry from earlier today was on CPAC when I woke up this afternoon, and he seemed extremely defensive and clearly anxious to clear his name. But I have to say that Jean Brault remains the far more impressive and credible witness.

Points to Wajsman, though, for saying he had discussed Brault's testimony with Joe Morselli. Chuck Guite and Jacque Corriveau claimed they had neither read nor talked to anyone about any of the prior testimony before their appearances - perhaps trying to emulate Chretien's dismissive attitude toward the proceedings? - which just doesn't seem credible.

Now Question Period is being re-broadcast. It seems Mark has decided the House of Commons is far more interesting than O'Reilly or the Jays!

It makes me wonder how many Canadians are watching CPAC these days - possibly for the first time ever - and therfore paying attention to national politics during the most tumultuous period in Canadian politics since TV cameras were installed in the House.

I can't help but hope that millions of Canadians are watching. The best defence of a democracy is an involved and engaged electorate which, because it is involved, draws its own conclusions by directly observing what is being said rather sound-bites and provides its own analysis of events without the need for media spin. That would be bad news for any party hoping to operate without transparency, which is good news for us.

We can only hope.

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (5)

The Gomery Parliament

May 13 - Retro-posting (again) - Rex Murphy on The National exposes "The Gomery Parliament."

(Via Andrew Coyne)

Posted by Debbye at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

Dezainde claims intimidation by Morselli

May 12 - The Gomery Inquiry was told of money clash between Daniel Dezainde, Joe Morselli and Beryl Wasjman. Daniel Dezainde said that he was physically intimidated when he tried to take control of the bank accounts of the Liberal Party of Quebec from Gagliano, and when he asked Jacques Corriveau for help he was rebuffed.

He said that he fired Wasjman in June, 2001, for organizing unsanctioned fundraisers and peddling influence which led to a confrontation with Joe Morselli:

"He approached me and pointed his finger at me two inches from my nose and said from this time forward this is war," Dezainde told Justice John Gomery. "I thought that went a bit too far, because I felt that my security was directly threatened."
Weenie. (If you think I'm being too harsh on him, please refer to yesterday's post in which I said that an honourable man in Dezainde's situation would have resigned when he realized he learned that the Party debts were being paid off by laundered money.)

10:45 - CTV writes up the confrontation somewhat differently:

When Wasjman was eventually fired, Dezainde testified that Morselli came to see him in a rage.

"From now on, I declare war on you," Dezainde recalled Morselli saying to him, before breaking down on the stand.

When Justice Gomery asked him if he considered that a threat of physical violence, Dezainde replied, "Yes."

This next assertion is not covered so explicitly in the previous two news sources cited: the Globe and Mail says
Jacques Corriveau, a close friend of Jean Chrétien who made $8-million in sponsorship subcontracts, candidly told an official at the Quebec Liberal party wing that he had set up a kickback system, the Gomery inquiry heard Wednesday.

Daniel Dezainde, who was the director-general of the Liberal Quebec wing in 2001, said that the admission came during a lunch he had with Mr. Corriveau.

He said Mr. Corriveau told him: “In the past, I set up a system of kickbacks with communication agencies and I kept a part of it for my expenses and I made the rest available for the party.” (Emphasis added)

Dezainde says the reported his conversation with the Man of Culture to the police. There is also this:
He said at a previous meeting with Mr. Bard, [Gagliano's] ... chief of staff went on a rant against Mr. Corbeil and against Jacques Corriveau.

“Benoît, he scammed enough already,” he was told. He said Mr. Bard said about Mr. Corriveau, “Good riddance.” Mr. Dezainde told the inquiry: “Have you ever seen the Twilight Zone TV series? It was like that.”

I was thinking it more like a episode of The Untouchables (the Robert Stack vintage model.)

By the way, English translations for transcripts of hearings through April 29 are up at the link.

May 14 - More here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Daniel Dezainde testifies

May 11 - Munu was down for awhile this afternoon (probably due to a spam attack) but we're standing strong again!

Today's testimony at Gomery Inquiry was by the man who took over for Benoit Corbeil as the Director-General of the Quebec wing of the Liberals, Daniel Dezainde. He complain that he wasn't really in charge - Joe Morselli was "the boss" behind the scenes.

Dezainde testified he went with Corbeil to meet Morselli at a north-end Montreal restaurant on May 14, 2001. At that meeting he claims he was told by Corbeil that Morselli was "the real boss" of Liberal affairs in Quebec.

Dezainde also said Corbeil warned him not to antagonize Morselli, a friend of then-public works minister Alfonso Gagliano.

He told the commission that, as a result, Morselli ended up running things, but completely off the record.

He also said he was told on another occasion by Gagliano that if he had any "needs" to give Morselli a call, or to call the minister's chief of staff, Jean-Marc Bard.

Dezainde said he understood that to mean financial needs.

The question of financing became a pressing one, Dezainde said, because he quickly learned the Quebec wing had amassed a pile of unpaid bills -- as much as $2.8 million was owing. He told the commission that Morselli told him to send the bills to him "so he can determine what can be paid."

Dezainde said that troubled him.

"Not only you didn't know where the money came from but you no longer had the ability to manage your organization, Dezainde told the Gomery inquiry. "So what's the point of being there?"

None, which is why an honourable man would have resigned.

Yesterday, Benoit Corbeil testified that ministerial aides to current and former Liberals were paid under the table during the 2000 federal election campaign.
In his appearance before Justice John Gomery's inquiry in Montreal Monday, Benoit Corbeil claimed that the workers received an alleged total of $50,000 from advertising executive Jean Brault to help cover the employee payroll. Corbeil also claimed that Brault offered him $100,000.

The other $50,000 sum, corroborated by inquiry documents and witness testimony, was made through Commando Communication, owned by Brault associate Bernard Thiboutot.

According to Corbeil's allegations, the cash was paid at the start of the 2000 campaign to staffers, including: Irene Marcheterre, later named head of communications for federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre.

Even as I write this, there is another non-confidence type of vote in the House of Commons over a motion by Opposition leader Stephen Harper to adjourn. The vote should be held in about 22 minutes.

The musical interlude this time is The William Tell Overture by Rossini, more commonly known as the theme to The Lone Ranger. I'll be reporting the vote above (barring another attack. Die, Spammers!)

Posted by Debbye at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2005

Beryl Wajsman

May 9 - Upcoming Gomery Inquiry witness Beryl Wajsman left a comment at Captain's Quarters that reveals how deeply the Adscam thefts betrayed the idealistic members of the Liberal Party who believed that they were carrying the banner of Trudeau and national unity through their membership and participation.

It is a very compelling letter, and it would well behoove those who read it to remember that Duplessis was a member of the Conservative party, not Liberal.

Ontarians and federalist Quebeckers are in a blind alley. They have been betrayed by the Liberals, who have been revealed to be brigands feathering their own nests, and disappointed those who believed their pitches about inclusion, diversity, and a "sharing and caring nation."

Much like outraged townsfolk pursuing medicine show charlatans who bilked poor widows of their savings, Canadians would like to tar and feather the Liberals but vengeance is an emotional response and, as the brain begins to reassert control, the fact remains that Canada will still need a government after the fallout subsides.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, have failed to recall what usually happens to the next medicine show that comes to town and tries to sell a miracle cure.

There is a very short time frame in which to bring forth concrete proposals for reform and an even smaller time frame in which to sell their ideas and most especially their sincerity.

A cynical public needs reassurance that the state of this country is not beyond repair, but by whom? The four party leaders in the house have relished their sound-bites, their name-calling and even their feigned outrage but have forgotten that Canadians are not a prime-time TV audience but citizens acutely aware that there are problems in this country which require urgent, clear-headed leadership.

So what do the leaders do? Get into a bidding war for votes and upping the ante, a debasing circus that has usurped the basis on which this election should be fought: making proposals for legislating serious - even drastic - reforms in the civil service, appointments, whistle-blower protection and contract tendering.

The outrage against Adscam could provide enough support for those reforms to counterweigh strong opposition from those who stand to gain from corruption - but this is a limited time offer that won't be there for the next election. Tory failure to take that path will confirm suspicions that they only want to be elected so they can get their own thieves on the national payroll.

The most alarming part of this bidding war is the threat to institute a national childcare system. Fuzzy puppies, warm nurturing environment, early instruction, gee, it sounds too good to be true. And if it sounds too good to be true - you know the next part, right?

Think: if the federal government can withhold transfer payments meant for health care then they can just as easily withhold transfer payments meant for health care and day care. Guess who would have to pick up the tab? That's right, the provinces, which would probably mean a reduction of services, but do you really want the quality of your children's care to be subject to the vagaries of government funding?

Posted by Debbye at 09:41 AM | Comments (2)

May 05, 2005

Béliveau testimony preview

May 5 - The Globe and Mail has some previews of what is expected to emerge from the testimony of Michel Béliveau before the Gomery Commission today - including assertions that $300,000 in cash allegedly went to Liberal campaign during the 1997 federal election campaign:

Mr. Béliveau is scheduled to testify today about allegedly receiving the cash from Jacques Corriveau, another Liberal supporter and close friend of Mr. Chrétien, who got millions through the sponsorship program in the 1990s.

The testimony would be the first by a Liberal official describing illicit cash transactions in contravention of Canada's electoral laws. It builds on allegations from Jean Brault, former president of Groupaction Marketing Inc., who told the inquiry of secret payments to Liberal officials in the 1990s and early 2000s -- including payments to Mr. Corriveau he was told were "for the cause."

Believe it or no, an envelope stuffed with $20 and $100 bills totaling between $75,000 to $100,000 was allegedly passed to Béliveau by Corriveau (the self-described "man of culture.") There was no receipt.
The cash was used to prop up Liberal organizations in "orphan ridings," Mr. Béliveau said, referring to the expression used in Liberal circles to describe ridings held by other parties. (Emphasis added)
It seems somehow fitting to take a Pirates of Penzance break.

May 7 - Béliveau's testimony is covered here and during it he exonerated Chretien from knowledge of the kickbacks:

FORMER PM Jean Chretien's chief organizer told the AdScam inquiry he witnessed more than $400,000 in cash secretly pumped into the Liberal Party's coffers to finance the 1997 election and pay off debt.

During shocking testimony yesterday Michel Beliveau said during his time as the Liberals' Quebec executive director in 1997 and 1998 he personally received thick envelopes stuffed with cash directly from Chretien's former bagman Jacques Corriveau and ad exec Alain Renaud.

"I take that responsibility, I accept it," Beliveau said, tearfully confessing that in revealing the financing scheme he has broken trust with the Liberals. Beliveau said he decided to tell Justice John Gomery about the illicit cash payments after speaking to Chretien, who he said didn't know of the backdoor donations.

"I'm still a loyal man so I warned the (former) prime minister that I had received my subpoena," he said.

"The only thing he told me is to tell the truth."


Beliveau, who broke down and wept into a handkerchief before leaving the stand, said he handed the envelopes of cash to former Liberal executive member Benoit Corbeil, admitting that they were never registered in the party books and broke financing laws.

Béliveau also testified that Liberal candidate Helene Sherrer, who ran unsuccessfully for a riding in Quebec City, was unaware that Corriveau had supplied him with $ 8,000 to pay off the debts of a company she owned. Helene Sherrer is currently Martin's principal secretary.

Posted by Debbye at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

"A complex billing scheme"

May 5 - Allegations that members of the federal government pressured sponsorship contractors to donate to the provincial Liberal Party of Quebec were bad enough, but now there is evidence that taxpayers paid for television ads for that same party (Public paid for TV spots):

TAXPAYERS were secretly billed for TV spots in 1998 showcasing French-speaking Quebec Liberal MPs to the tune of $92,008, the AdScam inquiry heard yesterday.

Financial documents tabled before Justice John Gomery show a complex billing scheme obscuring the fact that former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano had taxpayers pay for the production of partisan spots that aired on community television stations between 1997 and 2000.

Productions Cameo owner Thalie Tremblay, the daughter of Michelle Tremblay who is closely tied to Gagliano, told the AdScam inquiry that she first sent her invoices for the TV spots directly to Gagliano's office but later agreed to send her bills through Montreal's Groupaction Marketing.

In 1998, Pierre Tremblay, who was then Gagliano's chief-of-staff, told Thalie Tremblay to describe the work she did in general terms and to redirect the bill to Groupaction which "hid" the bill within sponsorship-related invoices. They paid Tremblay and Gagliano billed the House of Commons for the amount paid to Productions Cameo.

The article provides a bit more confirmation of Corbeil's testimony about what he termed "fake volunteeers":

A handful of Liberal organizers appeared before Justice John Gomery late yesterday, testifying that they were paid for their work during the 2000 election campaign through phony consulting invoices they sent to Quebec City's Commando Communication.
Following allegations by Corbeil about a connection between working for Liberal party campaigns and appointments to the bench, Judge John Gill in Alberta is being scrutinized:
John Gill, who served as co-chairman of the 2004 federal campaign, was appointed judge of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta in January. Elections Canada records show he made donations to the Liberal party in the last few years, including $763 in 1998, $828 in 2000 and $340 in 2003.

Gill's former law firm, Edmonton-based McCuaig Desrochers, also gave thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal party, records show.

The NDP has raised concerns about the appointment on the heels of his high-profile work on the federal campaign, but Gill declined to respond to the concerns.

"I can't comment," he told the Sun. "Sorry, I can't talk about it. That's part of the job -- you don't talk about things. I've got nothing to say about it, basically."

A bit of thrusting and parrying during Question Period on this issue:
In the Commons yesterday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper demanded an investigation, saying the Liberal party had "corrupted the system of nominating, vetting and appointing judges."

But Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canadians should be proud of their judiciary and blasted Harper for calling its integrity into question.

Chuck Guite admitted to violating federal rules requiring a one-year period between leaving public service and lobbying the federal government (he signed his first contract within 24 hours of retiring.) Records show that his company, Oro Communication, issued bills for more than $1,000,000 from 1999-2002 - mostly to advertising firms and one sponsorship contractor.

Greg Weston identified electile dysfunction in Sunday's column, and predicted that it is likely to worsen:

Call it electile dysfunction on a national scale -- Canadians so angry and disillusioned with the shambles in federal politics that they can't bring themselves to vote for anyone.

It was bad enough that last year's election set a 100-year record for voter absenteeism, Paul Martin and his Liberal government having been handed power by barely 20% of the registered electorate.

But by the time the muck settles this time around, the coming election could well establish yet another low-water mark.

Last year's poor showing on election day was driven primarily by voters turned off by their lack of choices -- angry with Liberal corruption, but unimpressed with Stephen Harper and fearful of his new party's agenda.

Unfortunately, it looks like the coming election could be more of the same. Polls indicate voters are even angrier at Liberal corruption, but only marginally more comfortable with the Conservatives and their leader.

O Canada: Mad as hell and not going to vote anymore.

The Georgians, Ukrainians, Iraqis, Kyrgys and soon the Lebanese continue to shame us by their determination to secure honest, representative governments. Can anyone imagine Canadians - or Americans - erecting tent cities in the dead of winter? Yet, out of pique, we are childishly surrendering that for which others have unyieldingly striven.

Posted by Debbye at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

Gomery Inquiry Extras

May 5 - I'm still fuming over my 2004 tax return so really didn't need this from the Captain's Quarters to further my state of discontent -- "spoiler" alert, eh?

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2005

Guite links Martin, Manley, Dingwall and Gagliano to Adscam (Updated)

May 4 - Captain's Quarters reviews the connection between the American purchasers of ad agency Vickers and Benson and what they needed to do to ensure contracts under Adscam and what those dispensing contracts could do to ensure they got those contracts here, and (link via from that post) CTV has published some of Guite's testimony before the Gomery Commission in which he cites involvements by some top Cabinet officials in giving the assurances that Vickers and Benson would continue to receive contracts as inducement for the American buyers:

Guite testified that back in 2000, he was told that then-finance minister Paul Martin had intervened to ensure a Liberal-friendly ad firm wouldn't lose its lucrative contracts with the federal sponsorship program.

Guite had already left the civil service by then, and was lobbying the government on behalf of the Toronto-based advertising agency Vickers and Benson Ltd.

Hoping to secure the future of his firm's ad contracts with Ottawa, Guite said he had lunch with his former boss, Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano.

"He said he'd look after it," Guite told the commission.

A week later, Guite says he got a call from Gagliano's chief of staff, Pierre Tremblay.

"The minister had spoken with both ministers and the volume of business would be maintained," Guite testified. He claimed he was assured Vicker's contracts with two federal departments -- Industry under John Manley and Finance under Paul Martin -- were safe.

Martin and Manley have denied the allegations in statements issued by their offices.

The CTV also reports that Guite said that the awarding of contracts under the Progressive Conservatives was even more political which again reinforces the need for severe reformation of the system.

I've been sick with a virus and am still under the weather but will try to stay with this.

May 5 - 08:42: Toronto Sun story here has this item about a new piece of evidence:

A new inquiry document shows Corriveau went directly to Jean Carle in the PMO to secure sponsorships even before the creation of the program in 1996.

The document backs Guite's claims that Chretien's former chief of staff Jean Pelletier and Carle drew up the sponsorship lists. As the program matured, Guite said he got direction from Gagliano.

Guite said Gagliano dipped into the sponsorships to pay for his own pet projects, at one time demanding a paper trail-free approval for a Canada sign in a small Italian village.

While candidly admitting he broke contracting rules, Guite blamed the ad agencies for sky-high production fees.

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 PM | Comments (3)

April 23, 2005

To the polls! (C'mon, you know you want to.)

Apr. 23 - The impact of Adscam is finally returning to the one arena that most needs to be challenged: the Ontario voter. I say "returning" because when Ontarians went to the polls last year far too many of them surrendered to the devil they knew and returned the Liberal Party to power - albeit limited as other Canadians were less willing to consort with that devil.

There's no getting around it: Quebeckers punished the Liberal Party. Albertans punished the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party leads a minority government because some Ontarians punished the Liberal Party but those in greater Toronto area did not - and the mayor of Toronto is setting the stage for us to be bribed - again:

"It would be very serious," he told reporters Saturday. "It would cost us, directly, $40 to $50 million this year. That's equivalent to about a four per cent tax hike. And indirectly, tens of millions more."

The impact would only get worse in succeeding years, he said.

Miller is worried about his city's share of federal gas tax revenue promised by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The Toronto Star newspaper published an editorial Saturday opposing an early election. The newspaper said if the Martin government were defeated without the budget being passed, it would cost Canada's cities $600 million in lost gas tax revenue.

We've all read the accusations that Quebec holds Canada for ransom and that rivers of federal money flow into Quebec, but Quebeckers refused to be bribed in the last federal election. I wish I could say the same for Ontario.

Kateland recognizes the tip of an iceberg when she sees it:

Adscam only represents one Liberal run government program. If this is how the Liberals ran the sponsorship program in Quebec; what’s to say that all the other liberal government programs in Quebec and the rest of the country are not run the same way? Think GUN REGISTRY or STRIPPERGATE for starters. Adscam is only where they got caught holding the smoking gun - not evidence of innocence.
Let's take it even further. If Benoit Corbeil's statements are true, the Liberal Party systematically set out to destroy the Progressive Conservative Party in Quebec and see to it that the Liberal Party and Canada became synonymous. What's to say they didn't also try to subvert the democratic process in other provinces?

Joe Clark, the last leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party, actually endorsed Paul Martin and the Liberal Party over Stephen Harper and the newly merged Conservative Party of Canada one year ago. Greg Weston wrote a column last May in which he accused some very senior Tories of making a secret deal with the Liberal Party in the 2000 election to secure Clark's re-election in return for securing Alberta Liberal Anne McLellan's re-election - and then some:

Two weeks before Jean Chretien called the country to the polls in October 2000, reliable sources say, a small group of top Tory officials cut a secret deal to help Chretien's ultimately successful national campaign for a third majority government.

In return, the Liberals agreed to throw the vote in the Calgary Centre riding of then Tory leader Joe Clark.

In what may have been a series of similar deals, sources say the Tories also agreed to "stand down" to help Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan hang on to her Edmonton seat, which she won by only 733 votes.

Sources refuse to divulge details of what, exactly, the Tories agreed to do for the Liberals. One would say only that the deal "without question, helped them (the Liberals) nationally."

Another tool in the Liberal Party bag has been bribery of provincial governments by means of transfer payments to provinces - and that means they can also withhold transfer payments to punish provincial governments.

People should be outraged that the government give or withholds their money according to "correct voting," (it isn't that different from the kind of tactic that people like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe uses.) Nevertheless, the Liberal party was elected in Ontario with a general expectation that the federal Liberal party would loosen the purse-strings more readily for their provincial cousins than they had for the Progressive Conservative-led government and once the Liberals were installed, the federal government re-opened talks about extra money for Ontario - and nobody so much as blushed.

Kateland analyzed the reaction to Martin's pathetic speech April 22:

My conclusion was that the typical Ontarian will give him [Paul Martin] kudos and high marks for stating the obvious and delivering it with obvious sincerity. ..

Will that work? Canadians are neither naturally politicos or idealistic. We tend to take people at their word rather than judging them by their actions. I think the most common phrase in Canada is that “he means well.” That excuses all.

Here in Toronto, people desperately need that excuse so they can do the math from a high moral ground:

"he meant well"
"he'll give us money"
Toronto votes Liberal.

This should be easy, because it is for that monetary incentive that they voted Liberal last year. (Sheesh, sex workers have more brains than had the average Torontonian voter because they demand to be paid before rendering service.) The only question is how easily Torontonians can be fooled twice.

Martin's plea to let him "clean up the mess" sounds very reasonable unless you're alert like Laurent and remember a 1995 assertion from then Minister of Finance Paul Martin:

The problem is that Paul Martin has been claiming for the last 10 years that he was cleaning up. As soon as his 1995 budget speech, he claimed that he had introduced "a new and much tighter system to manage its spending" and that his first priority was to "eliminate waste and abuse and ensure value for Canadian taxpayers." We saw the results.
1995 was also the year of the referendum vote in Quebec and the the Liberal conspiracy to destroy the Progressive Conservative Party which was one of the goals for which the Sponsorship Program was designed. The question is inevitable: did Martin tighten the system or loosen it so that Adscam could proceed undetected for several years?

One of Benoit Corbeil's assertions was that lawyers worked for Liberal party candidates with the expectation of receiving appointments to the bench. (Kind of a neat Canadian twist on "will work for food," eh?) Damian Penny and Bob Tarantino write eloquently of their outrage so I won't cover the same ground here.

I seem to be the only person I've read that liked Duceppe's rebuttal last Thursday (and I'm disappointed that CTV didn't see fit to post the text to his speech yet included NDP Leader Jack Layton's) but my impression of Duceppe's remarks was that he appealed to Canadians to restore honesty to the Canadian government, and however cynical one might be about the Bloc Quebecois, there really isn't much we can say to urge Quebec to stay in Canada especially as voting Liberal would be to condone the dirty tactics they used in Quebec which gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "special relationship."

Maybe it's because I'm coming at this whole thing with an American anti-federalist (i.e., pro-States rights, pro-provincial rights) attitude. I can completely sympathize with the desires of both Quebeckers and Albertans to be free of a federal government that increasingly usurps power from provincial governments, takes the revenues of the provinces and then uses that same money to reward or punish according to how the electorate votes.

But this is the interesting part: I think that Ontario and Toronto will get a better deal from the Conservative Party than the Liberals can offer. The Liberals can be fairly confident that, as Toronto voters love platitudes and scare pretty easily, the election is in the bag for them so they can afford to make promises they don't intend to keep, but Conservative MPs would, if elected, have to go extra lengths to meet their promises in order to be re-elected and retain power.

Ah, power. It really is all about power, but there seems to be a perverse disinclination in Canada to examine the pursuit of power. Maybe that's why "he meant well" has such traction and why people seem actually surprised that the Liberal party is as corrupt as it is, and maybe that's why Torontonians, under the veneer of their sophistication, are stupid voters.

The Liberal Party has ruled Canada with unchallenged arrogance for 12 years -- how could anyone realistically expect them not to be corrupt? It defies logic, psychology and history. Mark Steyn puts it succinctly:

In a one-party state, the one party in power attracts not those interested in the party, but those interested in power.
In an age when there is so much talk about empowerment it seems beyond strange that more people don't understand power - personal or political.

It looks as though the Conservative Party is putting together a slate (Conservatives line up high-profile candidates) and, if you can believe anything Layton says, he isn't selling out to the Liberal Party but is willing to go with the proposed Liberal budget if they meet his demands to, er, fight smog (and, socialist to the end, drop plans for a tax rebate cut for businesses.)

Although I don't know if Toronto will vote Liberal or Conservative (or Green, NDP or even Rhinosaurus) I do think it urgently necessary that an election be held now rather than later. Those who vote to oust the Liberals will at least have the knowledge that they personally did not give tacit approval to corruption.

Fighting isn't only about winning, but about reclaiming honour, self-respect and human dignity. People who give into outrage without a fight lose more than those who lose a fight: damage to the spirit lasts longer than bruises and, knowing they wimped out, it gets harder to fight back as each subsequent outrage piles higher like stones on a burial cairn.

(Globe and Mail and Reuters links via Neale News.)

Apr. 24 - 07:56: Criminey, even CNN has noticed that the Liberals are desperate to forge a deal with the NDP and that Bono is disappointed in Martin.

18:12 - I should have read Sari before I posted; she articulates what I felt about Duceppe:

Duceppe had me wishing - not for the first time - that he wasn't on the wrong side, because as usual he stole the show with a fantastic opening line to his speech, something to the effect of "the last time a prime minister addressed the nation, it was 1995 and Chretien was fighting to save Canada; this time, Martin's fighting to save the Liberals". He picked up votes for sure.
It is surprisingly possible that separatist sentiments in the West and Quebec will end up saving Canada by forcing the federal government to return those powers to the provinces which were originally apportioned to them in the Constutution - including health care - and restore the notion of local control over local concerns. Of course, that would mean less power concentrated in Ottawa ...

Apr. 25 - 11:00: RJ at Thoughtcrimes.ca has a key observervation about Duceppe:

Duceppe does not have to maneuver for position nationally as do Martin, Harper, and Layton, so that gives him a bit more room to step up and be statesmanlike. He talked about how the BQ are not supporters of federalism, but that the BQ had pledged to work within the system.

Key to both Harper and Duceppe's speeches was the distinction that the scandal allegations emerging from the Gomery Inquiry are Liberal scandals--not Quebec scandals. An important point that will continue to get much play from both BQ and CPC talking heads over the next few weeks.

The Meatriarchy may reflect the thoughts of many Canadians on Duceppe:
Duceppe - well I didn’t really listen to him. Although the bit I caught he sounded better than usual. If anyone is growing in stature through this thing it’s him.

Posted by Debbye at 11:56 PM | Comments (8)

April 21, 2005

Martin boosted Boulay's contract

Apr. 21 - It's hard not to wonder if Paul Martin had his own, personal corruption ring that was not attached to the Sponsorship Program. First there were some surprising revelations about Martin's knowledge of improprieties in granting contracts to Earnscliffe and now it appears he helped other friends and political allies: Contract boost by Paul Martin earned $75,000 for his friend, say documents:

MONTREAL (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin approved a contract amendment when he was finance minister that landed an ad man friend $75,000 for doing little work, say documents at the sponsorship inquiry.

Memos from January 1996 indicate Martin approved the boost in additional funding for a Canada Savings Bond direct mail campaign. The file, unrelated to the sponsorship program, was co-managed by Montreal firm Groupe Everest, headed by Claude Boulay, and resulted in the $75,000 commission.

Finance official J.P. Labrosse said in a January 2, 1996, memo that the contract amendment involving Everest was "approved by the minister (Martin) on December 21, 1995." The contract was boosted to $2.6 million from $1.7 million.

Documents show Boulay's ad firm was paid a 17.56 per cent commission for the campaign even though the bulk of the work was done by another agency, Pinnacle Advertising.

It wasn't clear whether Martin knew the funding increase put money in Boulay's pocket.

There was some discussion about dividends paid out to Boulay during his testimony earlier (on Monday, I think.) I suspect Martin is familiar with that routine practice.
Boulay, who continued his testimony at the inquiry on Thursday, had worked on Martin's 1990 leadership bid as well as his 1988 and 1993 election campaigns.

The funding approval went ahead over the objections of Public Works official Allan Cutler, who later blew the lid off of the sponsorship scandal.

Cutler said in a memo to a finance official that Groupe Everest's involvement in the contract was minimal or nil.

"Groupe Everest will presumably obtain a commission on the sub-contract without having done any work," said the memo dated January 26, 1996.

Cutler also noted the funding increase had been approved even though all of the mailing and distribution work related to the contract had already been completed.

Is Claude Boulay trying to finesse his comments in a style akin to Corriveau? Note the following exchange:
Boulay testified Thursday that Cutler was in no position to know what work Everest performed on the campaign

"I don't know how he could make this comment," the ad executive said under questioning from inquiry counsel Marie Cossette.

"He wasn't there when we met with Pinnacle."

Cossette then asked: "So Mr. Cutler was mistaken when he wrote this memo?"

Boulay replied: "Listen. What I'm telling you is that he wasn't there. He can make a comment, but he wasn't there during our meeting with Pinnacle."

But the question was if Cutler was mistaken, and one has to infer that, as Boulay won't answer, Cutler was not.

Alternate link here.

Note this change: Prime Minister Martin will be addressing the nation (earlier than first scheduled) at 7 p.m. tonight.

Posted by Debbye at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

Corbeil confirms Brault's tesitmony, letters refute Chretien's

Apr. 21 - Jean Brault's shocking testimony about the manipulation of the Sponsorship Program to funnel money illegally to the Liberal Party in Quebec has been corroborated in an interview with Benoit Corbeil, who is the first Liberal insider to admit to the money laundering scheme.

From the Globe and Mail, Insider backs Brault story:

Benoît Corbeil, the former director-general of the Liberal Party's office in Montreal, said in an interview that he received approval from some of his superiors for the cash transactions that were part of a regular flouting of electoral law.

At the time, Mr. Corbeil was at the top of the party's organization in Quebec, working under the direct supervision of then-minister Alfonso Gagliano.

Gagliano was the man to see for contracts, and had claimed earlier while protesting his innocence that he was being victimized on account of his Italian ancestry.
“I took the bills [from Mr. Brault] and with that, I paid people, without declaring it [to Elections Canada],” Mr. Corbeil said, refusing to state exactly how much money he received that day.

“I have to admit it, that's the way it happened,” he said.


Mr. Corbeil said most of the recipients of cash payments were Liberal supporters who took unpaid leaves from their positions in ministerial offices to work on the general election.

“I liked to call them fake volunteers,” he said.

The interview M. Corbeil gave was in anticipation of his appearance before the Gomery Inquiry in May at which he intends to make clear the total control exerted over him by the Prime Minister's Office under Chretien and "the Liberal hierarchy in Quebec."

According to M. Corbeil, in 2000 Groupaction paid five "fake volunteers" by cheque through Commando Marketing, a Quebec City company owned by an employee of Groupaction, and Groupaction contributed $100,000 after Mr. Corbeil made an urgent plea for funds to a senior official in Ottawa who he declined to name. He said he relayed information about the transactions to "many of his superiors" and that his actions were approved. He also told members of the electoral commission.

Although Mr. Corbeil would not name names in the interview, he indicated he would do so under oath when he appears before the Inquiry.

“Many of them came and told me they wanted to get paid right away,” he said.

Mr. Corbeil said the people who received the cash payments were part of a larger group of party supporters who worked at the Liberal Party's headquarters in Montreal during the election campaign. He said most of that larger group were lawyers, engineers or accountants from major firms, which he said hoped to reap federal contracts after the election.

“They don't want to get paid right away, they want to get paid later,” he said, noting that many of the lawyers have since been named to the bench. (Emphasis added)

Mr. Corbeil said that in that context, the Liberals did not fully reveal the full cost associated with their campaign as required under Canadian law.

“We accounted for the provision of goods, but we didn't account for the majority of the services,” he said.

Mr. Corbeil went on to explain how the rationalization for the Sponsorship Program led so quickly to graft: it seems the Liberal Party adopted a war mentality about the separatists:
He said that after the [1995] referendum, two goals were approved by the highest authorities in the Liberal Party: Annihilate the Conservative Party in Quebec to unite all of the federalists in Quebec under the Liberal banner, and ensure that the Liberal Party became synonymous with Canada in the province of Quebec. (Emphasis added.)
They succeeded in the first part. The Progressive Conservtive Party was destroyed and the federal Liberal Party is despised for being so corrupt, which is why the Bloc won so many seats in the last federal election and why they will sweep the next one. As for the Liberal Party of Quebec, they are currently the party in power there but, if I may use an American saying, a member of that party probably couldn't get elected as dog catcher in the next election. My guess is that the Parti Quebecois will sweep the next elections, although the ADQ may win some seats.

But am I missing something? The 1995 referendum, like the one before, was defeated. Why would the Liberal Party decide to characterize it as a war and begin to fight it after it was defeated?

Maybe I'm just too cynical, but this explanation lacks credibility. It is entirely too self-serving, and I'd guess that they are using the unity card to conceal their true agenda: total and unlimited power by any means necessary.

Mr. Corbeil said the strategy was developed by the PMO and the Liberal establishment in Quebec, and that Mr. Corbeil's group only provided the foot soldiers.

Mr. Corbeil said that as the director-general of the party in Quebec, his biggest challenge was raising funds.

He said the Quebec wing of the party was in a constant rivalry with the national organization, which got the first crack at the biggest donors in Quebec.

He said the Quebec wing always wound up with the crumbs, and that it could never find a permanent solution to its funding woes.

“Maybe if more people had listened to us and paid more attention, maybe we could have avoided some problems down the road,” he said.

Er, right.

18:21 This indicates that the interview was on CBC (French) Radio.

Letters have revealed that Jacques Corriveau made Sponsorship pitches directly to Chretien and that Chretien replied - again in writing - that he would pass the request along.

But the request indicates Corriveau finessed his response when he testified last week that he never discussed sponsorship deals with Chretien.

The exchange of letters also raises questions about Chretien's testimony in February during which he said he never talked sponsorship with Corriveau and didn't know he was getting government business.

Corriveau provided a similar response at the inquiry last Thursday before he was even asked about it, saying "There was not, I can assure you, any request for any file that interests the commission."

Pressed further by inquiry counsel Bernard Roy about any possible sponsorship talk with Chretien, Corriveau replied, "It's certain. No."

But in his letter to Chretien, dated August 26, 2002, Corriveau said he was prepared to meet him to discuss an injection of cash into the 2003 show.

The letter contained a laundry list of items for the prime minister to consider, including:

$3.5 million in sponsorship funding for the event:
$2.6 million from other government departments:
$500,000 for similar botanical events in three African countries and for First Nations communities.
Lodging for 250 gardeners at a military base south of Montreal.

Chretien replied in writing just over two months later, saying he would send the request to colleagues including Sheila Copps, then heritage minister, as well as John McCallum, the defence minister at the time.

I need to sleep on this (and I want to see Martin's televised address tonight.) The time on the Globe article is Thursday, Apr. 21, 5:19 a.m., so Claude Boulay would not have heard about any of this during his testimony yesterday during which he admitted receiving a $3.5 million contract after lobbying Gagliano.

(Alternate link here.)

(Globe and Mail link from Damian.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Adscam catch-up

Apr. 20 - Sorry about the length of the following posts. After years of having not much to post it's a damned avalanche and I'm still playing catch-up on Adscam on my half-a-weekend ... by the way, watching the testimony has been made the easier due to the fluid delivery of the interpreter.

I need to get some sleep, so I'll just post the relevant links and try to counteract all the coffee I drank last night.

April 18 testimony at the Gomery Inquiry: Chretien ally may have lied to press (Corriveau's testimony.)

Letter ties Martin to sponsorship figure: Tories which is a smoking gun if you actually believe Martin is a sincere kind of guy -- I assumed someone in his office wrote it and Martin just scribbled the obligatory "personal" comment, but Kate sees more and she has often been right.

Somebody is unhappy about their cut from Adscam. What to do? Sue!

Boulay denies discussing sponsorship program with Martin ... well, he would say that, wouldn't he. (Longer living link here.)

Opposition Day cancelled by the Liberal minority government. It made Question Period even more uproarious than usual. The Opposition fights back - or allows itself to be provoked prematurely, depending on your point of view.

Posted by Debbye at 03:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Another new Adscam site

Apr. 19 - Slick intro for another new Anti-corruption.ca.

(Via Nealenews.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

The money trail and recent Adscam testimony

Apr. 17 - Greg Weston reports that a "crack team of top forensic accountants" is Following the Adscam money trail to determine where the millions stolen from the Sponsorship Fund eventually landed:

... This is no ordinary group of number-crunchers.

Among its members are some of the key investigators who unraveled the massive and complex financial scandal at Enron Corporation, the giant American energy company that collapsed under billions of dollars of hidden debt and fraud. Sometime in the next few weeks, this squad of sleuthing bean-counters from the firm Kroll Lindquist & Avey will present the Gomery inquiry with the results of its Adscam investigation.

If successful, the accountants will answer the most contentious of all sponsorship questions: Who ended up with all the money?

So far, the Gomery commission has heard testimony that an elaborate web of kickbacks and fraudulent invoices siphoned millions of dollars from the federal sponsorship program into the coffers of Liberal Party operatives. What we don't know -- and the forensic super-snoops will likely tell us -- is what happened to all the loot after the Liberal bagmen got it.

There have been numerous debates about fixed terms and pre-set election days up here, but the fallout from Adscam shows the other side of that argument. If an election is called, it ought to be after this report has been made public -- the Liberal Party will be damaged by the corruption exposed directly within its structure or by that of it's paid campaigners - like Corriveau - who may have pocketed the money but whose ethical poverty reflects poorly on the leadership team of the party.

The statute of limitations for some of the illegal acts is very slim:

While Brault and two others are facing criminal fraud charges, time has wiped out any chance of nailing others with violations of election and lobbying laws.

The Gomery inquiry has so far heard from a dozen witnesses who broke election laws -- passing political cash around in brown paper bags does not exactly conform to federal political financing rules.

But an official at Elections Canada indicates there is nothing the government can do to prosecute the Adscammers -- under the old election financing laws in place during the sponsorship program, violators had to be prosecuted within 18 months.

The same applies to the numerous Gomery witnesses who have admitted they broke federal lobbying laws while they were out twisting arms in government for sponsorship cash.

A joke at the best of times, the lobbying laws don't even apply to AdScam -- the statute of limitations is two years.

The federal lawsuit against the 19 Adscam players is open-ended, to allow the government to add more names as they are unearthed at the Gomery inquiry. (Emphasis added)

On the other hand, the statute of limitations is possibly why some of the witnesses have been so forthcoming with their testimony: should the criminal prosecutions result in convictions, the sentencing for some may be lighter. Jean Brault was applauded when he appeared after the publication ban was lifted and I can understand why, especially when I compare Brault's straightforward testimony with Corriveau's haughty demeanor during the latter's appearances before the Gomery Inquiry.

I'm not likely to buy a used car from either man, but Brault came across as someone who tried to take a shortcut to success and ended up paying for it, and his testimony despite his poor health compared to Corriveau's memory-loss-by-medication makes Brault the more sympathetic character.

Mindful of the dictim that one can't excape death or taxes,

... If all else fails, there is always the long arm of the tax man, no doubt already hot on the trail of all that pilfered Adscam money. Where it will end nobody knows except, we hope, the accountants of Kroll Lindquist & Avey.
A couple of links and some background, starting with a profile of Corriveau here.

Some articles recapping Jean Brault's and Luc Lemay's testimony in anticipation of Corriveau's testimony here (including testimony from Groupaction employee Bernard Michaud that seemed to confirm that Brault was being pressure to donate to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party) and Lemay's testimony that he never looked at Corriveau's bills but just paid them and that he didn't know that Gault was being pressured to donate to the party (the last contradicts Gault's testimony.)

A recap of Corriveau's testimony this past week: Corriveau denies kickback claims and CTV's coverage on Thursday and Friday.

In another link, on Thursday Corriveau denied ever discussing the Sponsorship Program with Chretien while running the graphic design company Pluri Design, denied that he was close to Alain Renaud, and denied one of the most damning segments of Brault's testimony:

Corriveau said he never referred to the party as "the cause" in any conversations, contrary to Brault's claim that the phrase came up often while Corriveau and top Liberal officials browbeat him for cash.
Corriveau had also denied that he was was a "really" good friend of Jean Chretien's and that he was an informal consultant to the former prime minister.

On Friday, he denied receiving any kickbacks or playing any role in a scheme to funnel money back to the Liberal Party and suggested the inquiry focus on Alain Renaud. He explained the invoices which were for events in non-existent Olympic stadiums were due to a "significant printing error" -- so it wasn't due to a copy-paste operation but the use of an original invoice (for a 1997 event at Montreal's Olympic Stadium) as a template for later invoices (which went undetected in several Accounts Payable departments? If the invoices contained a significant error due to the template it's not a "printing" error but human error, and that still doesn't explain why nobody noticed it.)

He admitted being paid for lobbying the government for contracts for Lemay's Groupe Polygone even though he wasn't a registered lobbyist, and was caught contradicting testimony by Chretien's neice, Maria Lyne Chretien, when he admitted recommending her for a job at Groupaction upon her request (she had testified that she never solicited a recommendation from him.) Brault testified that of the five he hired (Serge Gosselin, Maria Lynn Chrétien, Gaby Chretien, Alain Renaud and Jacques Corriveau) she is the only one who did legitimate work for Groupaction.

[I've tried to cite numerous sources in part because some of the links have only a short life span and others will be subject to "subscribers only" retrieval.]

11:05: Lorrie Goldstein dispenses with the contention that Martin is the "wire brush" to clean up Canadian politics and brings the point home with the the reminder of the applause and praise in the Liberal caucus following Chretien's golfball testimony at the Gomery Inquiry -- an appearance that, to quote Goldstein, "made it perfectly clear he [Chretien] had nothing but contempt for the proceedings."

More chickens comes home to roost, as Linda Williamson reminds us of the "tainted blood scandal" and John Crosbie points out some bad bookkeeping and questionable business decisions at Canadian Steamship Lines, the company Paul Martin owned and ran before he became Prime Minister and wonders if the Canadian electorate will leave the government in the hands of wolves.

Edmonton Sun columnist Paul Stanway urges voters to "stop hiding behind the excuse of Battered voter syndrome" and outlines the flaws in the Liberal Party's pretensions as the "natural ruling party of Canada."

Salim Mansur asks Remember when honour was important?:

There was once an unspoken rule in public life that when trust is broken and a reputation sullied, the person in question should depart and save others from embarrassment.

We no longer live in such a world or, more properly, we now imagine that to demand honour in public life is romantic fiction.

It has become unreal to expect from public officials what Shakespeare made Mark Antony declare: "If I lose mine honour, I lose myself."

Instead, the unruffled contemporary norm is pass the buck, deny evidence and brazenly defy those whose trust has been broken due to poor judgment, ineptness or malfeasance.

Instead, the unruffled contemporary norm is pass the buck, deny evidence and brazenly defy those whose trust has been broken due to poor judgment, ineptness or malfeasance.

We've seen ample evidence of this in the AdScam debacle in Ottawa. So, too, we recently heard the pithy response of Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, when asked if he would resign following the release of the second interim report of the Volcker committee on the Oil-for-Food scandal: "Hell, no."

Yes, the column is actually about Kofi Annan - but could easily be about Martin. I think that's the point.

Posted by Debbye at 06:12 AM | Comments (1)

April 14, 2005

Corriveau testimony Day 1

Apr. 14 - Some quick updates before I go to work. Corriveau says he can't remember Chretien calls but confirmed about 21 over the years, citing surgery and medication as reasons for some memory problems, and that he only saw Chretien once or twice a year on average. He also denied he was an "unofficial consultant" to Chretien

The story in the Globe reports that Corriveau defended the phone calls logged in the former prime minister's office as being due to his employment of Chretien's son, Michel, at Corriveau's graphic-design firm from 1989 to 1991, which was before Chretien came to power, as pointed out by inquiry counsel Bernard Roy.

Posted by Debbye at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

"I did not have lunch with that man!"

Apr. 14 - Paul Martin denies ever having lunch with Claude Boulay of Groupe Everest, one of the agencies implicated in Adscam (Paul Martin: I have never had lunch with Boulay.)

Greg Weston wasn't impressed with Martin's "moral authority" speech yesterday and even less impressed with Martin's refusal to answer Opposition Leader Stephen Harper's direct question yesterday about Boulay.

Posted by Debbye at 12:30 PM | Comments (4)

Luc Lemay, Day 2

Apr. 14 - Yes, it's Update on Adscam time, but I'm not sure I'm up to it. I caught some of Lemay's testimony on CPAC this morning, but I couldn't believe my ears. Did he really assert that he has neither read nor heard anything as to the content of Jean Brault's testimony last week? That is so unbelievable that I'm certain I must have dozed off there for a bit.

Another curious note: I turned on CPAC a few minutes ago and there is debate going on over a Bloc motion for the Liberals to put their alleged ill-gotten gains into a trust account so as to level the playing field in the event of an election ... thus far, speakers from the Bloc, Conservative Party and NDP have supported the motion.

Back to Lemay's testimony, he seemingly has no understanding of what constitutes 'Influence peddling':

HUSTLING by a pal of Jean Chretien to land a Quebec publishing empire lucrative sponsorships for a hefty commission is blatant "influence peddling," Justice John Gomery charged yesterday. Gomery launched the allegation in heated testimony from Groupe Polygone owner Luc Lemay, who said he helped mask Jacques Corriveau's hefty commissions with fake invoices to avoid the federal lobbyist registry.

"You have never heard of what we call influence peddling, as being a forbidden practice in the government?" Gomery pointedly asked Lemay during his second day of grilling.

"No," Lemay answered.

Corriveau, a Liberal bagman and the former PM's confidant, made $6.7 million in commissions on the $37 million in sponsorships the feds pumped directly into Lemay's conglomerate of companies between 1996 and 2002.

Lemay is also Clueless In Rimouski, billing for an event in the Olympic Stadium there - except that none such exists.
Laughter erupted when inquiry counsel Bernard Roy noted Corriveau billed thousands of dollars for working at the Olympic Stadium in Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivieres, Rimouski, Chicoutimi and Ste-Foy, a suburb of Quebec City.

"To your knowledge, is there an Olympic stadium in Rimouski?" asked Roy, adding: "These details escaped you because you did not examine the bills."

Lemay replied: "Essentially."

Some of the events said to have taken place in Olympic Stadiums actually took place at shopping malls and hockey rinks.

Brian Daly also writes on Lemay's testimony here:

The fake bills complete with non-existent stadiums were turned in by Liberal organizer Jacques Corriveau for a series of regional hunting and fishing shows that did in fact take place, promoter Luc Lemay testified at the inquiry into the sponsorship scandal.

Many of the bills were duplicates of a legitimate invoice that Corriveau submitted for one of Lemay's hunting and fishing shows at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1999.

Lemay said Corriveau did little work or no work on the regional events and simply substituted the names of the smaller communities but left the rest of the document unchanged.

Lemay, who claims to be a businessman, testified that he paid whatever Corriveau requested. If Corriveau claimed he had spent more time than anticipated on a project and billed accordingly, Lemay paid without question.
Corriveau, also a graphic designer, had cut himself in on the lucrative deals at 17.5 per cent but did little more than eyeball mockups for most of the contracts, said Lemay.

"I never verified these bills," he said.

A $2.7 million People's Almanac contract and the Montreal outdoors show were the only two of 19 federally sponsored events for which Corriveau played a major role, said Lemay.

As for the other 17 events worth nearly $28 million, Lemay said he had a "good faith" agreement to pay commissions to Corriveau, but didn't ask for details about Corriveau's work.

Lemay wouldn't corroborate Brault's claims but didn't deny Corriveau's bills were inflated.


Brault has implicated Corriveau and Lemay in the wide-ranging scheme that allegedly used Brault's Groupaction firm to secretly funnel at least $1.1 million to the party's debt-ridden Quebec wing.

Brault said he paid Corriveau nearly $500,000 under a bogus contract, and alleged Corriveau sent the cash to the Quebec wing.

Brault, who's semi-retired, also testified Corriveau pressed him to make huge financial contributions, while one of Lemay's firms allegedly paid Brault $2.3 million in bogus commissions to offset the party's financial demands.

Lemay has admitted that $1.9 million in bills from Groupaction were "perhaps a bit inflated" but insisted Brault told him the money was to help manage sponsorship contracts.

He said he he had no idea Brault was being pressured for Liberal contributions and said no Liberals ever strongarmed him into sending cash.

The CTV link tells me I haven't gone Nuts Over Adscam
Gomery was incredulous when Lemay claimed he still didn't know about Brault's allegations, which have made international headlines.

"I've never seen media coverage like that of Mr. Brault's testimony," said the judge, adding: "You've read nothing about it?"

Lemay replied: "I don't have the time to read it."

Gomery then said, "Maybe it's time for a break," before ordering a pause in the proceedings.

Jacques Corriveau is to testify today.

Posted by Debbye at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

April 13, 2005

Inquiry moves closer to Chretien's circle

Apr. 13 - Luc Lemay testified yesterday that Chretien pal Corriveau got millions:

A GOLFING buddy of former PM Jean Chretien raked in $6.7 million for landing a Quebec publishing empire lucrative federal sponsorships, the AdScam inquiry heard. Luc Lemay, owner of Expour and the Polygone publishing giant, said the millions were a thank you to Jacques Corriveau for landing him $42 million in sponsorships from 1997-2003 -- by far the lion's share of the $250-million program.

Lemay first hired Corriveau, Chretien's riding organizer and bagman, to design Expour's first outdoor show in 1997.

Lemay said only two short months before his show was set to open at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Corriveau showed up with a vital $450,000 federal sponsorship.

CTV elaborates further on Lemay's testimony and Corriveau's billing procedures:
MONTREAL — Jean Chretien's good friend Jacques Corriveau did almost nothing to earn a $6.7 million cut from a Montreal promoter's sponsorship deals, an inquiry heard Tuesday.

Promoter and publisher Luc Lemay said he simply rubber-stamped Corriveau's bills, which in some cases appeared to be duplicates with the names of various events pasted in.

Lead inquiry counsel Bernard Roy ran down a list of $36 million in federal sponsorship contracts handled from 1996 to 2002 by Lemay's firms, mainly for hunting and fishing shows in rural Quebec.

Corriveau, a Liberal organizer and graphic designer, had cut himself in on the lucrative deals to the tune of 17.5 per cent. But Lemay acknowledged the former prime minister's friend did little more than eyeball mockups for most of the contracts.

Roy asked: "The bills that you received at the time were for honorariums for services that were not really performed as described in the bills."

Lemay confirmed: "I never verified these bills."

A $2.7 million People's Almanac contract and a Montreal hunting and a fishing show were the only two of the 19 events for which Corriveau played a major role, said Lemay.

As for the other 17 events worth nearly $28 million, Lemay said he had a "good faith" agreement to pay commissions to Corriveau, but didn't ask for details about Corriveau's work.

Lemay's admission suggests millions of taxpayer dollars went unaccounted for through Corriveau's Pluri Design firm during a period when huge sums of cash were allegedly diverted from the sponsorship program to the Liberal party.

Ad man Jean Brault has said Corriveau extracted huge sums from himself and Lemay to fatten the party's coffers in a corruption scandal that threatens Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal government.

Lemay wouldn't corroborate Brault's spectacular claims but didn't deny Corriveau's bills were inflated.

The bills, tabled at the inquiry, indicated Corriveau performed professional services when in fact his income came from commissions earned after lobbying the Liberal government on Lemay's behalf.


Brault has implicated Corriveau and Lemay in the wide-ranging scheme that allegedly used Brault's Groupaction firm to secretly funnel at least $1.1 million to the party's Quebec wing.

Brault said he paid Corriveau nearly $500,000 under a bogus contract, and alleged Corriveau sent the cash to the party's debt-ridden Quebec wing.

Brault, who's semi-retired, also testified Corriveau pressed him to make huge financial contributions, while one of Lemay's firms allegedly paid Brault $2.3 million in bogus commissions to offset the party's financial demands.

Corriveau's $6.7 million in honorariums and professional services represent more than 18 per cent of Lemay's sponsorship income between 1997 and 2002.

Andrew Coyne is all over the employment of former Immigration Minister Denis Coderre with Group Polygone in the late 90's.

He also notes a contradiction in Martin's contention that he "barely knew Claude Boulay, the president of Groupe Everest" and the fact that he was seen lunching with M. Boulay at the Liberal convention. Predicatably, Martin deflected direct questions on that to defending health care ... three times!

Posted by Debbye at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

NY Times on Adscam

Apr. 13 - The NY Times has taken note of the scandal up here even though one can only hope they'll dispatch a reporter in Montreal, where the Gomery Inquiry is behind held. From Canadian Prime Minister Struggles to Keep Job:

TORONTO, April 11 - Prime Minister Paul Martin sought Monday to distance himself from a scandal that is enveloping the governing Liberal Party, saying that he was "personally offended" by a pattern of money laundering, payoffs and kickbacks by party functionaries that has emerged in recent days.
Something that first came up on March 18 constitutes "recent days?"
The crisis has been simmering for over a year as a commission led by Justice John Gomery has been investigating charges that the Liberal government under the former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, transferred nearly $100 million to several advertising firms under a program to publicize federal activities in Quebec, in exchange for little or no work.
The Times is bracing the American public for the "Blame Chretien!" side-step, omitting the fact that the man who was Finance Minister and thus should have noticed huge sums of money were unaccounted for happens to be the current Prime Minister.

But the Times article somewhat makes up for their omission of the above detail with the next few paragraphs that make Martin look hapless if not foolish:

While in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Mr. Martin remained silent about the Brault testimony; and over the weekend he huddled with his advisers to consider his political options. On Monday morning, he finally appeared in public and spoke in solemn but firm tones.

"I was as offended as any other Canadian - even if that testimony is contested, I was personally offended by what I heard," he told reporters on Parliament Hill. "That is not the way that politics is done in Quebec. It is not the way that politics should be done in Canada. And it is certainly not the way that I believe that politics should be done."

He added, "I can assure you that anyone who has been implicated in this matter is going to be punished." (Emphasis added)

That is an odd statement from a legal framework. Being implicated does not necessarily equate guilt, but now Martin is on record assuring the Canadian and now the American public that those "implicated" will be punished. Does signing the cheques "implicate" an official? The Times then reports
Mr. Martin, who has not been personally implicated in the scandal, also contended that he has the "moral authority" to continue governing. (Emphasis added)
Again with the "implicate" thing! Yet Martin has failed to accept his own accountability as the Finance Minister who failed to take action after a few millions here and a few millions there went missing or were spent in violation of the rules (e.g., no competitive bidding) on his watch.

The one strength on which Martin can capitalize is the Gomery Inquiry itself and Martin's refusal to end it.

"Establishing the Gomery inquiry has cost me and my party political support," Martin told reporters in Ottawa.

"But it was and it remains the right thing to do because it is needed to defend and protect the integrity of our political process."


Martin said that as prime minister, he accepts his responsibilities and is accountable for the government.

"The true test of character is doing the right thing when it is difficult. And let me tell you that matters a great deal more than the ambitions of any political leader," he said in an apparent shot at the opposition parties who have been threatening to end his minority government.

Martin knows whereof he speaks when he invokes "the ambitions of any political leader" -- he landed in the middle of this mess because he maneuvered behind the scenes to get Chretien out rather than let Chretien face the backlash of the Auditor-General's report back in early 2004.

Posted by Debbye at 04:46 PM | Comments (2)

April 11, 2005

Liberal Scandal Record

Apr. 11 - Another new site keep track of the Adscam mess: LIBRANO SCANDALS AND PROMISES.

(Link via Kate.)

I had almost forgotten that the name Adscam was selected in a democratic manner by an elite group of people who read the right blog.

I kind of miss Andrew's Noth-ing posts. If Corriveau develops amnesia, how about a return appearance?

Posted by Debbye at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

Corriveau on Tuesday?

Apr. 11 - Chretien's pal Corriveau is up next before the Gomery Inquiry:

JUSTICE JOHN Gomery will take his first bite out of a Liberal rainmaker this week when former PM Jean Chretien's golfing buddy makes an appearance before the AdScam inquiry. Jacques Corriveau is expected at the Gomery commission as early as Tuesday, where he will be grilled by lawyers on his dealings with Liberal-friendly ad firms and about his involvement in the scandal-plagued $250-million sponsorship program.

Tomorrow Gomery is expected to uncover where the 600 VIP Montreal Grand Prix tickets purchased through the sponsorship program went when he questions the event's owner, Normand Legault.

Brault testified last week that once he began receiving lucrative sponsorships to manage, it was made clear to him that Corriveau had a big say in who got those contracts.

Corriveau is a close confidant of Chretien's and a longtime Liberal bagman who has been fingered by Brault and his staff during questioning over political influence in the doling out of lucrative sponsorships.

Corriveau, the former owner of ad agency Pluri Design, has been painted as an influential Liberal who directly demanded backdoor donations from Groupaction.

Brault said Corriveau was too much of a gentleman to outline the consequences of refusing to give secret donations but believed Groupaction would have been cut out of the sponsorship program.

Corriveau had not been mentioned by any of the witnesses prior to Brault and his staff and quite a few people are hoping Corriveau's testimony will connect Chretien directly to the scandal.

John Robson wrote last month that Judge Gomery's questioning style was similar to that of Lt. Columbo - seemingly innocuous questions which are revealed to connect loose ends and weave them into a net. Interesting read, or re-read.

Lorrie Goldstein had a column yesterday recounting the despicable treatment of Francois Beaudoin by Chretien and the former's use of real thug tactics when Beaudoin, then head of the Business Development Bank of Canada, responsibly turned down an unreasonable loan request by one of Chretien's friends, Yvon Duhaime.

There's an earnest story, MPs fear Gomery revelations hurt trust, which contains some interesting speculation tying cynicism to low voter turnout and one curious note:

In the federal election last June, some estimates of voter turnout put it just above 60 per cent, which would be the worst in Confederation's history. Due to problems in the voters' list, Elections Canada has not released an official number. (Bolding added)
I must have been asleep on the job, folks, because I don't remember anything about that. Is it tied in with difficulties in the Election Contributions database?

Lastly on that audit which Scott Brison had produced as evidence that no dirty money went into the bank, a notion that was firmly rejected by the Opposition:

"Let's not forget that when it comes to these types of activities, the whole purpose of money laundering is to hide the money. We're kind of overlooking the obvious here aren't we?" [Deputy Conservative leader Peter] MacKay said.
Sound bites are nice, but bloggers do better research - and accountant M.K. Braaten has looked at the reports and suggests that
In fact, these engagements are not audits but simply an analysis of parts of the Liberals finances that they asked the firm to analyze.
Braaten also includes the donations to the Liberal Party by the two firms and points out that there is a potential conflict of interest there (fancy such a thing! Ahem.)

Apr. 12 - 00:11 I'm watching Question Period, and Oppostion Leader Stephen Harper just brought up the letter in part 2 of M.K. Braaten's post in which Deloitte states that they did not conduct an audit. Harper, in asking a second question, calls it a "review." Diane Ablonzsky (?) is now pushing the point that Deloitte complained about the lack of documentation. (Story here.)

Braaten 2 - Liberals 0

Posted by Debbye at 07:00 PM | Comments (1)

Time for Canadians to go hmmm

Apr. 10 - People who compare Adscam to Watergate are missing a vital difference. Whereas the Watergate hearings began with the use of private donations to President Nixon's re-election campaign for illegal operations, Adscam is increasingly exposing the use of public, taxpayer money to fund the election campaigns of the Liberal Party.

Follow the money has since entered public awareness as a standard investigatory practice, and it's hardly surprising that wrongdoers try obliterate the money trail in order to avoid detection or, at best, have some kind of plausible deniability even to the extent of blaming their own subordinates for incompetence or outright corruption. (Plan B is to accidentally erase 18 minutes from a tape or "not remember" what transpired.)

The use of such tactics is the picture that is emerging from the Gomery Inquiry, and as this National Post editorial notes, Judge Gomery has taken some low blows from some who have accused him of bias and cited the high costs of the inquiry to detract from its value.

One issue that must be confronted lies in the editorial:

A year ago, the struggles of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee proved how difficult it would be to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal. (Bolding added.)
Why couldn't the Commons committee get to the bottom of the scandal? A second, unaddressed question: why it did it take so long for the alleged payoffs and paybacks, that at minimum go back 15 years, to be uncovered and brought to light? (A third questions might be as to what use is that committee if it can't get to the bottom of a scandal involving millions - if not billions - of dollars of misspending, corruption, graft, patronage appointments and the awarding of unbidded contracts?)

The latest testimony at the Gomery Commission concerns donations for the 1993 campaign which were made with the intent of influencing future contracts in the event of a Liberals victory (Ex-PM's staff took payoffs) which, it is ironic to remember, was fueled by accusations of corruption in the sitting government at the time - the Progressive Conservative Party.

MONTREAL -- Staffers of former PM Jean Chretien received secret payments to fund his victorious 1993 Shawinigan election campaign from a Montreal ad firm lobbying for federal contracts, the Gomery inquiry heard yesterday [April 8.] Former Groupaction Marketing employee Alain Renaud said that two years later Chretien's brother Gabriel personally set up meetings for him with a senior PMO staffer and top Liberal officials in a bid to open the floodgates of federal contracts.

Renaud, who was hired by Groupaction founder Jean Brault to bring in federal contracts in 1994, added to his former boss' explosive testimony about the fallout from secret donations made to key Liberals.

Renaud testified to the amounts paid, which he said added up to about $50,000, and how his expectations were fulfilled.
Renaud said he would complain to Michel Beliveau, the Liberal Party's former Quebec president, if the flow of contracts stopped.

He said Beliveau would call Chretien's then chief-of-staff Jean Pelletier about the complaint.

"I saw Mr. Beliveau call Mr. Pelletier directly in his (Beliveau's) office," Renaud said under questioning from Roy. "I never saw Mr. Beliveau speaking about a specific contract, but he spoke to the PMO regularly."

Roy asked: "How did you get confirmation that your messages were understood and were followed up on?"

Renaud replied: "When the contracts came in quickly."

Renaud credited Beliveau's influence with Pelletier for landing Groupaction Canadian Grand Prix contracts in 1998 worth a total of $1.3 million. (Bolding added.)

It doesn't take a genius to suspect that corruption is a communicable disease and to re-focus attention on previous instances of public money that went missing due to a variety of excuses that seemed to finger poor bookkeeping practices and ineptitude -- in short, to blame the civil servants employed in those ministries -- and go hmmm and pose like the incomparable Arsenio Hall.

Greg Weston is connecting some dots:

Now for the bad news: Adscam is likely just a puddle in a far wider, deeper and dirtier cesspool of corruption involving potentially billions of dollars in government programs unrelated to the sponsorship fiasco.


It is a huge amount of money. In the same time the Liberal government squandered $250 million on the sponsorship program, over $800 million was spent on federal ad programs.

As it happened, a pile of that cash went directly into the coffers of the same Quebec ad firms involved in Adscam.

Were palms greased and favours granted? Hmmm.

Weston notes that the federal government hands out millions of dollars in contracts and the potential for corruption is immense. The largest fraking red flag lies in this paragraph:
In one case that emerged at Gomery this week, Groupaction president Brault described how a $100,000 bribe got the firm over $5 million in contracts with the federal Justice Department.

According to the AG, in 1998, Justice officials were not happy with work being done by Groupaction and wanted to re-tender the contract. The retendering process began, but suddenly "was halted without explanation, and Groupaction was retained until mid-2002" after getting another $5.4 million in contracts.

What really happened, according to Brault, was he had asked Liberal Party bagman Joe Morselli to see if anything could be done to help Groupaction keep the contract in 1999. The two men met one day in Montreal, Brault testified, and Morselli told him: "$100,000 and your problem is solved."

Brault said he slipped the first $50,000 to Morselli at a spaghetti dinner, and never got around to paying the second instalment before the sponsorship scandal erupted in 2002.

The Justice Department. Somewhere, John Mitchell is smiling.

Weston discusses the $1,000,000,000 that has been spent on the "useless gun registry" and reminds us

In one case, a Sun investigation almost two years ago revealed Groupaction billed the feds hundreds of thousands of dollars for gun registry work that no one seems to remember being done. The firm is now facing criminal charges related to those contracts.
Two websites have come to my attention of late:

Alberta's Voice with an especial note to read their Scandals page, and
Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association (LUFA) which also lists some of the scandals since the Liberals took power in 1993. (People may remember that the Liberal government blamed those fighting the registry for it's high costs and cited the need to run advertisements in support of the registry.)

The Alberta's Voice scandal page reminds us that funding for the HRDC program spiked just before, and just after, the 1997 election. There were accusations that those who got jobs through the program were primarily family members of civil servants and Liberal party volunteers. Hmmm.

It appears that the health care system, once a source of deserved pride, was also manipulated by those who were supposed to be maintaining it. Weston writes

Ad exec Jean Lambert testified that his spouse, Sylvie Cloutier, had won a competitive bid for a $200,000 Health Canada contract in 1994. Instead, she was forced to run the work through Lafleur Communications, a firm now at the centre of Adscam.

The Gomery commission was told Cloutier was forced to pay Lafleur $50,000 to do nothing but pass along her invoices to the government.

So all the extra money pumped into the health care system went ... where again?

[A quick comment on Alberta's Voice - I really recommend you write you own letters rather than copy and paste any form letter. Their examples provide a good reminder of the talking points you might want to address, but sincerity counts the most in any endeavour, and the numbers of sincerely outraged taxpayers is what directs political and institutional change.]

Captain's Quarters is already on election watch and it appears that at least one Liberal in Alberta is thinking about jumping ship - MP David Kilgour. He also covers recent poll figures which I'm avoiding (I live in Toronto and have little faith in the common sense of the voters of this town. I'm just saying ...)

As I've stated before, an election is not going to solve anything. It's the structure of how the government approves spending - and the lack of whistleblower protection - that is all wrong and provides an open invitation to corruption. Andrew Coyne summed it up succinctly in Trust Us:

"All we have to say is 'We won't steal your money'," the Conservative stalwart said...


What this member of the public wants to hear is: Don't trust us. You don't have to. Here are the specific things we'll do to ensure that you don't have to trust us -- because this kind of thing will be impossible.

That's what I too want to hear because I don't trust anyone with my money, which what I view tax dollars to be and, quite frankly, is how you should view that amorphous mass called "government money."

(Links from the Ottawa Sun and National Post via Neale News who should bookmarked by every blogger and checked several times a day by newshounds.)

10:20 Tom Brodbeck of the Winnepeg Sun points to another instance wherein the Prime Minister of Canada assumed powers above those of Parliament:

[Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray] ... was given a patronage appointment to head the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy by Martin, even though he's completely unqualified for the position.

His appointment was rejected by a Commons standing committee. And this past week, Parliament voted to rescind Murray's appointment. A majority of democratically elected MPs voted against the appointment. Yet, Martin's appointment stands.

So much for democracy.

Murray was grilled by a Commons standing committee and he revealed how pathetically unqualified he is for the job.

He even acknowledged his shortcomings and apologized to the committee for them.

The House of Commons rejected Murray's appointment by a vote of 143-108.

But junior Environment Minister Bryon Wilfert said Murray will keep his job anyway.

"The position of the prime minister stands absolutely," said Wilfert. "The house has voted after the fact. ..

Then why hold a vote? And, if it was intended to have been a rubber-stamping exercise and Parliament revolted, why didn't they do something principled when they learned they had been ignored, like walk out or express their displeasure to the press?

This country drives me nuts.

15:48: Brodbeck column linked. Sorry!

Posted by Debbye at 05:54 AM | Comments (5)

April 08, 2005

The Hell's Angels strike back

Apr. 8 - Pirate Paul Martin! (move your mouse onto the picture to read the article and your mouse off the article to view the picture.)

Can't really argue their point!

Posted by Debbye at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

Restoring Ethics to Canadian sensibilities

Apr. 7 - The Captain has posted portions of the the CTV summary and is doing some fact checking -- comparing the information he received from his source to what is going up the CTV site.

Before we go further, I would like to tell you all about something known as a Tipjar. It's located right under the "Official Blogger" button and is a white box that says "Make a Donation." Captain Ed hasn't said, but I suspect the heavy traffic generated by his Adscam reports exceeded his bandwidth and has cost him money, so each of us should give him something if only as a token of our thanks for all he has done. Okay?

Back to Adscam.

The Capt'n makes a point which says much about some of what led to Adscam:

Under cross examination, a lawyer for the Liberals suggested Brault didn't really know if some of his payments ended up in Liberal coffers. Brault agreed with that, saying 'You're right."
Well, perhaps the attorney representing the Liberals on the cross-examination felt he scored a point. However, when political appointees demand cash from a government contractor, either the money is for themselves or their party -- and either way, it's corruption.
The attorney representing the Liberals probably doesn't, in fact, realize that very thing. Ethics rank lower than scoring a point.

And that's where the work need to begin - to stop shrugging and saying "everyone does it" but to press for reforms that will end - or at least minimize - institutionalized theft, to decentralize power so that those elected to represent their ridings are actually able do so.

Chretien's legacy is still under advisement, but the stench he left behind remains. It's about the cynicism, civil service promotions on the basis of who you know rather than how well you do your job, trips abroad to study brothels and red light districts, and golfballs.

It will be easy to sit back and hope that somebody else does it, but it don't work like that. If you've never written a letter or visited your MP's site before, now is the time (even if you are represented by a Liberal.) Let them know how sick and tired you are, and demand changes. (Just don't believe anyone who promises to fix the democratic deficit.)

Send the Liberals further into panic mode, and demand the Conservatives come up with something better than criticizing the Liberals.

That's how I see it, anyway. Good night.

Oh wait, the Globe and Mail report must have popped up after I left their site (link via Angry in the Great White North, who will probably be going full steam this evening so be sure and check him often.)

A shorter article is up at the CNews here noting this from that article: Brault said he circumvented Quebec election rules in 1996 to funnel at least $100,000 to the Parti Quebecois when Lucien Bouchard was premier.

Posted by Debbye at 02:46 PM | Comments (2)

That publication ban -- lifted!

Apr. 7 - I meant to sleep, honest. But I'm watching CBC Newsworld (along with a long of bloggers, I'll wager) and readying my rebel yell.

Here goes: Judge Gomery says that it is in the public interest that Brault's and Guite's testimony, with a few exceptions, be lifted.

Judge Gomery cites a precedent which says the jury may not be able to distinguish between what impressions they had before the trial and what they hear as evidence in the trial, which is why the ban will stay on a few items which were testified to in the inquiry.

14:15 CBC Newsworld is already airing their coverage of Brault's testimony, and it's already on their web site here.

Oh lord, CBC has Jim Travers on.

Question Period has begun in the House of Commons. McKay was strong, McClellan was shrill. Everyone seems charged! (maybe not everyone ...)

The Conservative Party website has a web page dedicated to the Gomery Inquiry which might balance out the CBC spin.

CTV coverage of Brault's testimony is here.

Toronto Sun has coverage of the lifting of the ban.

I just realized I've never thanked Captain Ed! Thank you, sir, for standing up for the rights of free people and their right to know what their government is doing.

Let freedom ring!

Posted by Debbye at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

NY Times names Captain Ed

Apr. 7 - From the NY Times: A Blog Written From Minneapolis Rattles Canada's Liberal Party (free registration may be required):

An American blogger has suddenly emerged as a force in Canadian politics.

Edward Morrissey, a 42-year-old Minneapolis area call-center manager who runs a Web log, or blog, called Captain's Quarters as a hobby, last Saturday began posting allegations of corruption that reached the highest levels of the Canadian Liberal Party. The postings violate a publication ban instituted a few days earlier by a federal judge, Justice John Gomery, who is leading an investigation into accusations of money laundering and kickbacks in a government program from the 1990's that was aimed at undermining Quebec separatists.


While the Canadian news media have not reported explicitly what Mr. Morrissey is posting, their newspaper articles and television features about his work have led Canadians to visit Captain's Quarters (www.captainsquartersblog.com) to read the latest scandalous details. Mr. Morrissey said his blog had been flooded since Canadian CTV television first reported on its existence and contents Sunday night, and that he was now getting 400,000 hits a day.

And yes, that is a hyperlink to Captain's Quarters embededed in the third to the last paragraph from the full text of the article.

I get the Times headlines by email daily. I usually go to the International News page, scan it, and then click on All Headlines .

What would be the legal ruling now, given the hyperlink in the article?

I'm not the only person up here who gets the NY Times emailed.

Good call for Jay Currie, who speculated on this very point a while ago. (Make that 2 days ago. Right.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

More links about that testimony (continuously updated)

Tiananmen Square.jpg

Apr. 6 - To people reading blogs for the first time, please realize that when we write cautions about unverified stories it's not some kind of wink wink nod nod thing at all: we really mean it and assume readers are canny enough to recognize that there is going to be both fact and error in these accounts and to suspend final judgement until the publication ban is lifted and the actual transcript is made available.


Captain Ed has a french translation of what is said to have been Gault's testimony.

Update 09:30: Greg Weston of the Toronto Sun reports that the Parti Quebecois also received kickbacks from Groupaction, one of the advertising agencies named in the scandal. /update

Free Will has a lengthy point-by-point and fairly detailed account of what may have been heard in the inquiry - again, with the caution that the author cannot verify the accuracy of the report.

11:54: Kate re-prints a missive from The Black Rod which has a year-by-year account of Ascam disclosures from 1997-2000 which, as she notes, "is from sources that were publicly available prior to the publication ban on Brault's testimony at the Gomery Inquiry." The impact of seeing it arranged chronologically (and knowing that the years 1993-1996 and 2000-2003 are not included) give some idea of the daunting scope of this scandal. If I remember everything correctly, the first confirmation that Groupaction gave money directly to finance the Liberal Party was March 18, and there has been an election since [2000.] As Kate would say, grab a coffee and read. /update

Shiny Happy Gulag has written about an imaginary country and the imagined testimony at an imaginary ... you get the idea. Only in Pas-Ceci, you say? Pity. It is probably even legal because it doesn't contain any links, proscribed or otherwise.

The publication ban led the Washington Post's Media Notes yesterday. Howard Kurtz compared the publication ban to those imposed by "dictatorships cracking down on Internet news to maintain censorship as tightly as possible." and points to what is one of the basic differences between attitudes in Canada and the U.S.: "... our democratic neighbor to the north, which lacks a First Amendment and has a somewhat narrower view of press freedom, is cracking down on an American blogger for reporting on a corruption investigation that apparently has to do with advertising contracts being steered to politically connected firms."

Kurtz only reports on the controversy and doesn't provide any details on Brault's testimony, so is safe to read. He quotes extensively from (and links to) Captain Ed's explanation as to why he felt it important to publish his piece and to the Globe and Mail.

12:40 - There's a CNews item about some guy named Ed Morrissey of Minneapolis who "published banned testimony on the internet".

Jean Brault's trial has been re-scheduled for June, not September as the defense had requested, so the publication ban will likely remain. /update

Claudia Rossett writes about The Truth in today's Opinion Journal and ties the demonstrators in Lebanon with the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. The connection? A desire for the truth.

(Kurtz link via Neala News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:53 AM | Comments (1)

April 05, 2005

Brault testimony, Part II

Apr. 5 - I finally and completely understand why Canada has not produced a Dr. King or a Henry David Thoreau. Every blogger up here has only one decision to make: will you fight for liberty? This is an act of civil disobedience, not armed insurrection, for crying out loud. The threat to charge those of us who published certain links, such as the second post in a series about Jean Brault's testimony before the Gomery Inquiry - The Martin Connection, must be met with only one response: Bring. It. On. I mean it. Let's drop the gloves once and for all and get some earnest debate up here about liberty and inherent human rights.

People around the world are being killed in their struggles for freedom and I'm almost ashamed that the worst I face is the loss of some money and, horrors! inconvenience.

Joe Katzman puts Adscam, the publication ban, the power of the blogosphere and some analysis of the choices the Liberal Party must make here. Must read for Americans and Canadians.

If I tried to list the outpourings of posts from Angry in the Great White North and small dead animals I'd never publish, so just start in and read.

Stepping back for a second, I don't believe an election will solve anything. A change in government will be fruitless unless there are substantial changes in the way the patronage system is allowed to bleed taxpayers by rewarding favours with government positions and civil service reforms are enacted. Addendum And what about fiscal accountability, including for those foundations which receive grants from the government but are not subject to audited reviews on that money?

All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There are another thing consideration which would make Canada look beyond stupid. As Andrew Coyne put it, should the publication ban remain and an election be called, We would then be treated to a sight I venture to say has never before been witnessed anywhere in the world: an entire election devoted to an issue that no one is allowed to say anything about..

Standing Up for a True North Strong and Free:

Angry in the Great White North
Autonomous Source
Dust my Broom
Girl on the Right
Italics Mine
Minority of One
News Junkie Canada
The Politic
Relapsed Catholic
small dead animals

(I may have missed some web loggers and haven't outed anyone who hasn't had the links up for some time. Let me know if you want to be removed or added on.)

Sometimes Faltering Lips can be a good thing. When the time comes, perhaps we all will say I am Spartacus!

Honourable better-late-than-never Mentions for Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail and the CBC (get url for Real Player broadcast here.)

(Part I is here, if you are late to this Tea Party.)

13:02: Jay found this Very pointed satire which brings a whole new meaning to the concept of thought crimes.

Posted by Debbye at 09:23 AM | Comments (10)

April 04, 2005

Canadians: Linking to CQ May Be Good For Your Freedom

Apr. 4 - Those looking for the link to Captain Ed's item on Brault's secret testimony before the Gomery Inquiry have been given a bit of a helping hand by the Canadian media.

CTV carried the story but wimped out completely and pulled their story entirely (before I could read it) rather than edit out the name of the blog, blogger, and Canadian news service that carried the link (and from which I got it yesterday.) Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail published the story of the leak on an unspecified American blog and publicized by an unspecified news service (and rendered the Good Captain into an "anonymous blogger",) and Stephanie Rubec had a similar article in the London Free Press and Toronto Sun without mentioning specific names and site addresses (the story may well be in all Sun Media newspapers, but I followed the LPF link from Capt. Ed and have checked only the Toronto Sun on my own thus far.)

Captain Ed warns Canadian bloggers that linking to CQ may be bad for your democracy but I disagree - it's good for your democracy, and there are a lot of Canadians who are voicing their agreement by following the results of their web searches.

Freedom is precious, and many have died to preserve that freedom. If people aren't willing to fight and sacrifice for their freedom then they don't deserve it.

Angry in T.O. is, um, angrier, and is standing tall, and I've only just learned that Kate proved her mettle yesterday.

Why violate the publication ban and risk legal action? Asked and answered in a follow-up post by Angry in the Great White North.

As for me, as I noted in a response to a comment yesterday, every Canadian who pays federal taxes is a victim of the fraud and theft perpetuated by the Sponsorship grants and possibly by the Liberal Party.

They didn't commit crimes against or steal money from the government. The government has no money except what it deducts from paychecks as well as the "surcharges" we pay when we file taxes, levies on businesses, and raises through an 8% tax on purchases.

They stole your money and my money - and each of us would be a plaintiff in this case and thus would be unable to qualify as jurors should the case ever come to trial.

Judge Gomery forgot that minor detail when he placed the publication ban on the testimony in order to guarantee a fair trial. I guess he and I have a fundamental disagreement on some basic concepts about government and tax money.

Posted by Debbye at 07:54 AM | Comments (8)

CTV wimps out on revelations about Brault's testimony

Apr. 4 - CTV interviewed the American blogger who wrote about the "secret" testimony of Jean Brault before the Gomery Inquiry into Adscam but pulled the article when they realized they could be committing a crime just by linking to Captain's Quarters.

Their timidity is all the more deserving of scorn in the wake of new information about the torture Canadian Zahra Kazemi endured before her death in an Iran prison for the dreadful crime of photographing those who were holding a vigil in June, 2003.

Zahra Kazemi died in defense of press freedoms in a totalitarian country and the CTV is too afraid to exercise freedom of the press in a democracy.

Shame and double shame.

Posted by Debbye at 07:46 AM | Comments (6)

April 03, 2005

John Dean comes to Canada

Apr. 3 - Imagine the outcry had the Watergate hearings been placed under a publication ban because some of those named faced criminal proceedings. It's a testimony to the American character that we conduct open reviews of scandals like Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings even though it provides our enemies with a great deal of ammunition -- more than a lesser people could tolerate.

Canada put testimony in the Gomery Commission behind such a ban with nary a blush, piously citing privacy and legal concerns and knowing that the media outcry would rapidly subside as journalists shrug because it's the kind of repression they've come to expect but which they rarely name.

But make no mistake: the media blackout is repression of a free press and in too many ways exposes what is wrong with Canada.

Enter the Age of the Internet. Unsurprisingly, it seems some information may have trickled out and is available for the world, except Canadians, to read. Unless they dare.

Apr. 4 - 6:45 - Edited to add the link was via Neale News, which I omitted yesterday because I didn't want to be indirectly responsible for any ramifications of his courageous act. Needless to say, that particular cat is long out of the bag but Neale is still carrying the link. [12:21 - it's gone now and Neale is listing links to today's news.]

We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Posted by Debbye at 01:46 PM | Comments (7)

March 20, 2005

One-stop Adscam review

Mar. 20 - Lorne Gunter has a nice compilation of Gomery inquiry revelations about Adscam in the Edmonton Journal and a compact paragraph that lays out David Dingwall's role:

... In perhaps the most incestuous Adscam deal, Lafleur hired the minister who created Adscam, David Dingwall, to lobby the federal cabinet to give more money to VIA Rail, itself an Adscam player and recipient. In a twist of intrigue worthy of Kafka, sponsorship monies were paid to a sponsorship ad agency to pay the sponsorship program's founder to lobby the source of sponsorship cash -- Ottawa -- for even more sponsorship money for a Crown corporation that was already dispensing buckets of sponsorship cash. Over just seven months, Dingwall received $133,500 from Lafleur ($19,000 a month).
Must read.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Party financing and national unity

Mar. 18 - A portion of our taxes are now turned over to political parties to pay for their campaign expenses during federal campaigns. This legislation, which came into effect in 2004, was heralded as ending the corrupting influence of corporations, through their donations, on political parties.

Let me repeat: my tax money goes to finance the election campaigns of parties with which I vehemently disagree, such as the Bloc Quebecois, which advocates separation from Canada. As the money is apportioned to the politcal parties based on the percentage of votes they garnered in the previous federal election, I don't even have a little box on my tax form to indicate to which party I want my involuntary donation to be directed.

Corporate donations to finance political parties = bad. Nassty corporations. We don't likes them or their filthy lucres.

Earmarking taxpayer dollars to finance political parties = good. Stoopid taxpayers. They don't have the sense to know to which parties they should give their money. We don't trust them to make sensible, personal decisions, so we'll make those decisions for them.

Stealing taxpayer dollars, under the guise of promoting national unity, to finance the Liberal Party = genius. National unity is best achieved if there is only one political party, the Liberal Party. There can be only one.

Adscam started as an inquiry into the funneling of tax dollars to Liberal-friendly advertising agencies and the appearance was that these funds were in payment of services received or about to be received, but testimony again today indicates that actual cash donations were funneled back to Liberal Party workers.

CBC News: Groupaction masked payments to Liberals, Gomery told:

Bernard Thiboutot worked for former Groupaction advertising executive Jean Brault, who made millions from the sponsorship program.

Thiboutot, who had his own consulting company, told the inquiry that Brault asked him to send five cheques worth $57,000 to five people. Brault then paid Thiboutot $57,000.

The inquiry hasn't yet heard what type of work the five did, but Radio-Canada says Michel Monette, Jacques Roy, Guy Bisson, Franco Iacono and Louis Pichette were all Liberal Party organizers.

Bisson worked on the Liberal campaign in 2000, Roy worked as an organizer for the Liberals in Montreal, Monette worked on the Liberal campaign in Laval, Iacono was a lobbyist who used to work for former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano and Pichette was a Quebec campaign worker.

Brault didn't want to appear connected to the five people, Thiboutot said. The payments instead went through Thiboutot's company, Commando Marketing, in the same week in October 2000 that former prime minister Jean Chrétien called a federal election.

Brault faces criminal charges related to the sponsorship scandal and has been named in a $41-million government lawsuit.

Thiboutot also testified that Brault pressed him to make two contributions of $10,000 to the federal Liberals.

Earlier in the inquiry, another communications executive, Gilles-André Gosselin, said Brault asked him to make a $10,000 donation to the Liberals.

There are bigger questions which have yet to be addressed, and the biggest one is the ease with which the Prime Minister usurped the powers of Council and Parliament. That must be addressed but has not been addressed. That is my biggest concern, but I'm just an American who doesn't understand all this enlightened stuff and worries about minor stuff like a Prime Minister who promises a Parliamentary debate on ballistic missile defense but suddenly announced the decision without a public debate. Martin promised to address the "democratic deficit" in Parliament and he did so in a manner reminiscent of Ed Norton's advice to Ralph Kramden in the golfing lesson: Hel-lo ball!

Then there is the involvement of Canadian civil service workers and patronage appointees in furthering the misappropriation of public funds. The systems of political patronage appointees as well as the hiring and promoting civil service workers desperately needs reform. Whistle-blower protection also needs to be enacted.

Another mega-question is how millions of taxpayer dollars could be stolen over a period of several years and nobody knew, including the Finance Minister, who at that time was current PM Paul Martin. (I can't help wondering if his new persona, Mr. Dithers, is a smokescreen as he might be forgiven for being a bumbling fool but not for being competent and thus a knowing enabler of Adscam.)

A new controversy has recently arisen about the use of federal funds to finance foundations, many of which bank rather than spend the money, none of whom are accountable for the public funds they receive, and the potential of that money to find its way back into Liberal Party coffers.

Non-accountability, thy name is Bureaucracy, and that issue is also at the heart of the Oil-for-Food scandal as well as Adscam.

[N.B. Despite the plethora of Quebec locations, this is a scandal involving the federal Liberal Party, not the provincial Liberal Party. There is a difference.]

Personal aside: I'm tired of those who shoot back "Yeah, what about Watergate?"

What about it? Did the Nixon campaign steal millions of taxpayer dollars to finance his campaign, or did they misuse private donations to the 1972 Republican election campaign? As we say back home, That dog won't hunt.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 PM | Comments (8)

March 15, 2005

Fighting Quebec separatists in Italy

Mar. 15 - Adscam is a bewildering mess. Now it has taken on international dimensions.

Separatists were everywhere! The danger was so great in Chretien's own riding of Shawinigan that it received it too received money:

Former prime minister Jean Chretien's riding was a major destination for money from a $490,000 annual sponsorship slush fund in the 1990s, an inquiry was told Monday.

Documents tabled at the inquiry into the federal sponsorship program include several references to sponsorship allotments in the 1990s for "unforeseen events," including several in Chretien's former riding, which used to be known as Saint-Maurice.

The events include a hot-air balloon show, a canoe festival and the Grand Prix de Shawinigan-Sud automobile race.

And Alfonso Gagliano
... attended a ceremony in Italy where nearly $7,000 of sponsorship funds were used to brand a small village with the Maple Leaf. ..

Documents show the plaque, marking a spot called Canada Place, was inaugurated in May 1998 in the south-central Italian village of San Martino.

The documents also suggest the project's true source of funding was initially hidden. The plaque was not explicitly named as a funded sponsorship project, but was instead accounted for under money allotted to a ice-sculpture show that took place under a similar name in Ottawa."

Shameless. I'm trying to imagine Gagliano and Chretien each saying "I am not a crook."

Posted by Debbye at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005

Frechette blocked UNSCAM probe

Mar. 1 - Investigations into UNSCAM have revealed a systematic attempt by the Deputy Secretary-General, Canadian Louise Frechette, to block results of audits into the Oil-for-Food program from the Security Council:

UNITED NATIONS — With U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan next up for review by Paul Volcker’s inquiry into the Oil-for-Food scandal, a crucial question is whether Volcker will expand upon information tying the scandal directly to the U.N. chief’s office — by way of Annan’s second-in command, Louise Frechette.
Louise Frechette went to the U.N. after out of a long career with the Canadian civil service including a term as Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. 1992-1995. She became the first Deputy Sec.-Gen. of the U.N. in 1998. Is that sufficient Cancon to put this story on the CBC Evening News?
Four years into the seven-year Oil-for-Food program, with graft and mismanagement by then rampant, Frechette intervened directly by telephone to stop United Nations auditors from forwarding their investigations to the U.N. Security Council. This detail was buried on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released Feb. 3.

This decision from within Annan’s office left only the Secretariat privy to the specifics of the waste, bungling and contractual breaches detailed by U.N. internal auditors in dozens of damning reports. The extent of what Annan’s office knew was not available either to the Security Council or the public until Congress finally forced the issue and the United Nations produced the reports in conjunction with a Volcker "briefing paper" in January.


Frechette’s actions stand in sharp contrast to the assertions of Annan and his public relations staff that the Security Council – and not the Secretariat – supervised the more than $110 billion Oil-for-Food program. Her decision, as documented by Volcker, also places responsibility squarely in the secretary-general’s office for obscuring mismanagement of the program from the Security Council.

The cover-up did not stop with Benon Sevan, the now-disgraced Oil-for-Food executive director, who reportedly blocked audits that originated lower in the chain of command. The obstruction went all the way up to Annan’s office on the 38th floor.

Frechette's intervention was disclosed by the Volcker committee as the result of an interview with Dileep Nair, head of the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the organization’s internal watchdog. In the year 2000, Nair’s audit department repeatedly urged that audits of Oil-for-Food be sent to the Security Council.

On Nov. 30, 2000, Nair’s top auditor sent a memo to Sevan informing him that despite his objections, the auditors planned to start sending reports on Oil-for-Food to the Security Council. By Nair’s account, what settled the issue was a telephone call from Frechette, who came down on the side of Sevan. After that, reports Volcker, Nair "abandoned the effort to report directly to the Security Council on [Oil-for-Food] matters."

When questioned about the telephone call at a recent press conference, Frechette said she had no recollection of it. “But I’m quite prepared to accept Mr. Nair’s recalling the conversation,” she told reporters. (Bolding added.)

The article mentions that although the Volcker Commission interviewed Frechette, the results as well as her name were not published. During her tenure as Canadian Ambassador to the U.N., current Volcker executive director Reid Morden was the Canadian Deputy Minister.

That explains something else to me: why the name of former Canadian PM Jean Chretien and his ties to Paul Desmarais as well as Paribas and Total haven't been made more public.

So what did Frechette know and when did she know it?

Frechette had connections to a number of Oil-for-Food figures. She had direct oversight of both U.N. watchdog Nair and Oil-for-Food director Sevan, although both reported to the Secretary-General. .. Asked why Frechette was mentioned only by title, not by name, Morden refused to comment.
Audits were blocked with the excuse that it would be a waste of money to audit a "program with an uncertain future" but evidently the temporary nature of the program was sufficient to spend $3 million to rent and renovate new officies for it.

I've already quoted too much from the news report, but Canadians who have followed the Adscam inquiries will probably recognize that some aspects of the failure to audit the Oil-for-Food program parallel those which allowed millions of dollars to be stolen in the name of national unity.

As with Adscam, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was introduced for a worthy goal, in the latter case to assist the people of Iraq who were harshly affected by the oil sanctions imposed when Saddam didn't meet his obligations under the cease-fire that ended Gulf War I.

As with Adscam, those administering the program reported directly to the top, i.e., the Secretary-General's office, not the U.N. Security Council.

And, as with Adscam, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was cynically manipulated to enrich individuals, too many of whom are connected with Jean Chretien.

Also, please keep in mind that there are no provisions to protect "whistleblowers" in the U.N.

The closing paragraph is particularly amusing:

Among other things, that audit found that Sevan had failed to hold any management meetings of his Oil-for-Food team for the previous two years. It remains to be explained how that fact had escaped the attention of Sevan’s direct supervisor, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, or that of Kofi Annan himself.
As with Adscam, ...

[Note: I've edited out the (search) markers in the Fox Report.]

Mar. 2 - Kate has kindly linked to this post, and has done some research which ties Volcker, Frechette, Morden, Desmarais and Maurice Strong. Sheesh, is anyone of influence in Canada not connected to Desmarais?

Naturally, I expect a major story on the CBC about these revelations, as well as outraged editorials in the Star and Globe and Mail. It shouldn't be too hard, as bloggers have done the digging.

Just imagine this was about Halliburton - I'm certain it would be plastered all over the front pages, but something with true Cancon can't summon a particle of interest. The words smug hypocrisy barely covers it. (And you folks in the USA think you have a problem with the myopia of MSM? Trust me, we've got you beat.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (33)

February 16, 2005

Slush scam

Feb. 16 - This was not the best day to get my T-4 slips, you know? Grits hide $9B in slush funds:

Eight years after the first foundation was set up, for instance, nine of them collectively still have over $7.7 billion of the original $9.1 billion in their bank accounts.

A handy hiding place for the Liberal government to stash its annual surplus on budget day, the foundations hand out grants for everything from hi-tech research projects to student bursaries, aboriginal counselling and, of course, "research on linguistic minorities."

Up to their boardrooms in Liberal appointees, the foundations have been officially declared "independent of government" -- that is, off-limits to the auditor general and exempt from the Access to Information Act.

Greg Weston gives some examples of foundations and how they spend our money or, in some cases, don't spend the money but let it earn a staggeringly high amount of interest.

Agencies which receive public funds yet do not have to account for them are dominating the headlines and the scandals aren't going away. The problem up here is that the party in power, be it Liberal or Conservative, uses the patronage appointments and grant system to reward its party faithful. Until an elected public official takes leadership on this issue and fights for real reform to the system itself, simply changing the party in power won't end the abuses.

Feb. 17 - One bright spot: 10 out of 18 Crown corporations will be opening their books to the Auditor General's scrutiny (and yes, the CBC is one of the 10 but they want the law amended to protect their journalistic sources. Tea leaves and animal entrails require whistleblower protection? Whatever ...)

Posted by Debbye at 09:09 PM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2005

Coyne Returns!

Feb. 15 - Hurray! Andrew Coyne is no longer AWOL and has some new postings on his blog including a list of the things we are supposed to believe that would even choke Alice (of six impossible things before breakfast fame) in My Saturday column [Feb. 12]:

We are asked to believe that Jean Chretien, having created the sponsorship program, having personally secured funding for the program out of the so-called “unity reserve,” having personal authority over every request for funds from that allocation and having been warned in writing by the Clerk of the Privy Council that he would thus be personally responsible for every grant made out of those funds, should accept no personal blame for anything that went wrong under the program.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2004

5 years for Adscam answers

June 8 - According to Justice John Gomery, who is to head the judicial inquiry into Adscam, it could take five years before there are answers about Adscam particularly the burning questions who knew and when did they know it.

Five years? I could be dead and buried by then so consider myself free to draw my own conclusions: they all knew. They knew what they intended to do when they first set up the sponsorship program. And if I'm wrong, no one will know it for at least five years by which time no one will remember.

Five years? There will be another presidential election (Guiliani-Rice ticket), another summer and winter Olympics, and the people of Iran will have thrown off the mullocracy but Canada will be waiting patiently for answers to questions long forgotten.

Two people, Chuck Guite and Jean Brault, have been charged with a dozen counts of fraud. Chuck Guite is the former head of the sponsorship program and Jean Brault is an ad executive.

In preparation for the judicial inquiry, former PM Chretien has requested standing, as have former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, deputy minister Ranald Quail and the aforementioned Chuck Guite.

If they are granted their requests, their lawyers will be able to play an active role, including questioning witnesses, or at least those who are still alive five years from now.

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2004

More Canadian Mint Woes

Mar. 17 - Brian Legris, the chief executive of the Royal Canadian Mint is also a frequent traveller (Expensive business trips also on the bill.) No total is provided (Crown corporations don't have to divulge expenses) but there is this:

Mint spokesman Phil Taylor could not explain a $1,632 hospitality expense June 6, 2002 claim that Legris filed. There were no supporting receipts or explanations on what Legris spent the money on.

But Taylor said the mystery claim would no longer be approved under improved rules implemented since 2003.

There. Don't you feel better now? Oh wait, there's more!

Mr. Legris lives within a 3-minute walk from work, and in fact deliberately moved so close in order to walk yet still racked up $3,681 for gas, car repairs and parking in downtown Ottawa between February 2002 and December 2003 in addition to his $10,000 per year car allowance. (Don't get me wrong, I don't blame him for driving 3 blocks between December and February; after all, we're talking Ottawa In Winter here.)

Previous story about the highly paid executives at the Canadian Mint here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 PM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2004

Attention: Liberal Party

Mar. 14 - Lorrie Goldstein offers 20 simple rules for keeping our votes. They are all excellent (probably because they are simply common sense rules) but this one is most relevant to the over-use of consultative fees:

5) If your main problems are that your nuclear plants are breaking down and your electrical transmission grid desperately needs repair, no amount of consulting advice - whether Liberal or Tory - is going to help you. You need to fix the problem, not get more advice on how to "spin" the problem.
Greg Weston notes that had the government paid attention to Allan Cutler, the whistleblower who alerted those in charge in 1994 that there were worrisome violations in the awarding of public contracts, Adscam and the whole fiasco might have been avoided.

Posted by Debbye at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2004

Patronage and Adscam

Mar. 13 - More patronage appointees are culled: Michel Vennet, head of the Business Development Bank of Canada was finally, and I do mean finally, fired.

Technically the controversy over Vennet, Beaudoin and the bank are not part of Adscam so belong to an earlier scandal called Shawinigate but I'm not in the mood to distinguish between rats today. The same arrogance and corruption ties these scandals together and I'm going with what they have in common.

Anyone who's been reading Andrew Coyne might be excused for wondering what took them so long when lesser figures were summarily fired for lesser offenses and because I'm suspicious I wonder if they just gave him time to, er, tidy and clean out his files and computer records. As is noted here, they are suddenly reviewing the Governor-General's expenses or are they trying to change the subject?

Politics of diversion? In Canada? Oh, my!

The latest Adscam revelation: even the small amount of money allotted to the Department of Defense was subject to theft:

So far, only one federal employee, civilian director Paul Champagne, has been fired after auditors discovered national defence had paid $160 million for military computer hardware and support services it never received.

The principal company involved, Hewlitt Packard, has said that Steve Bailey, a sales representative who worked with Champagne, is no longer with them.


Tory Cheryl Gallant noted the Financial Administration Act limits the signing authority for public servants to $250,000. "How could one person have signing authority for $160 million?" she asked.

Andrew Coyne has more here and here.

Posted by Debbye at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004


Mar. 12 - Martin aides tied to scandal:

Aides to Prime Minister Paul Martin have been linked to an advertising firm involved in the sponsorship scandal, according to newly-released documents. Martin's former chief of staff at the finance department, Terrie O'Leary, and a former legislative assistant, Karl Littler, were both identified in documents in which Groupe Everest was awarded a lucrative contract in 1996.

Littler is now Martin's Ontario organizer and O'Leary remains a trusted adviser.

According to this, the commissions were being funnelled to friendly ad agencies in 1994.

The drip, drip, drip as each revelation comes out . . . what will be the ultimate impact on Canadians?

UPDATE: 15:08: The owner of the Auberge Grand-Mere, Yvon Duhaime, which was at the heart of the Shawinigan scandal some years ago, has been charged with arson.

Posted by Debbye at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004


Mar. 10 - They even stole from the Boy Scouts? The Scouts in Quebec, L'Association des Scouts du Canada, asked for $250,000 to assist in funding a Boy Scout Milllennium Jamboree and received it, but the Public Works website states the amount contributed was $600,000.

The case joins 720 other files that will come under scrutiny as special counsel André Gauthier seeks to recover sponsorship funds misspent between 1997 and 2001.
Misspent funds. Gotta love the spin!

Groupaction Strategic Communications handled the transaction.

Posted by Debbye at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2004

Adscam and Tall ships

Mar. 9 - Tall ships like Bluenose II have graced the waters of Lake Ontario and San Fransisco Bay and never failed to fill me with awe. The masts towering above the San Fransisco fog seemed to reach into heaven itself, and the sailors scrambling atop to the crows' nests defied both gravity and fear.

Does everyone have a pet heritage project that, when stung, makes them madder than reason would dictate? Count me as one who is more than furious that Bluenose II was victimized in the Adscam sting: out of $2.3M allotted, only $359,000 was received by the trust that oversees the schooner. Lefleur Communications was supposed to handle the transaction.

Posted by Debbye at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 9 - Allan Cutler, who was fired (and fought to retain his job) after he filed a complaint in 1996 about the questionable handling of the sponsorship program has been guaranteed that he will keep his job when he testifies Thursday on before the Commons public accounts committee on who knew what and when about Adscam.

Maybe the real scandal is this:

Public Works called in a private auditing firm to probe Cutler's complaint in 1996 but both Cutler's concerns and the audit were kept secret by the Liberal government until they were unveiled by senior public servants testifying at the committee last week.

I'm never going to be able to wrap my brain around this aspect of Adscam. It must have been apparent to whomever was in charge of this thing back in 1996 that the truth was going to come out, but if a conscious decision was made to sit on the truth for as long as possible, I have to wonder why? and who benefitted? The too obvious answer is Chretien, but that doesn't really make sense either as he could face criminal prosecution (unless PM Martin pulls a Ford and pardons him before any charges are laid. Would that pig fly?)

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004


Mar. 6 - Isn't this typical: Gagliano threatens lawsuit. I remember when he was appointed Ambassador to Denmark and there was a (brief) storm that he was being hurredly shipped out of town in an effort to deflect the brewing storm over the Sponsorship scandal. Some even pointed out that it was an insult to the Danes and didn't speak well as to how we regard amicable relations with them.

We've already apologised for Alfonso Gagliano. We've apologised a number of times.

I also seem to remember that he was first to have been appointed to the Vatican but they didn't want him (or was that another appointee? So many scandals, so little time . . .)

Posted by Debbye at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2004

Turn off the mike, stupid

Mar. 4 - Read these first: MPs in Panic and Fur flies in Grit caucus. Both articles refer to a Liberal caucus meeting which was publicly aired due to a technical error.

Okay. There was a major scandal in California when the Democrats' Caucus was overheard on the loudspeaker plotting to craft a budget that would make the public suffer so much they'd be willing to drop the restrictions imposed by Prop 13 so the Dems could get their greedy little hands on more taxpayer dollars. (Note that Prop 65 was, in fact, defeated. Californians may be a little nutty but they aren't stupid.) Everyone in the California Assembly knew there were problems with the intercom system, but nobody was assigned to make sure the switch was in the "OFF" position? Well, it can happen once, I guess. [I'll try to locate the link later - it should be in the August or September archives.]

The Democrats in the US Congress knew there was a snarl in the computers and their internal documents were not secure, but nevertheless they left some highly incriminating documents accessible which outlined their filibuster strategy to stop the president's judicial nominations. It can happen twice? Don't the Dems read the papers or their own newsletters? After the California disaster I'd be very very careful, but I've never held public office.

The Federal Liberals, not to be outdone, recently broadcast their recent caucus meeting over a parliamentary audio channel (an "apparent technical error" is blamed) but what stands out is that their primary concern is not the depths of the corruption the scandal has exposed but their pitiable state at how their fortunes have declined because of the scandal.

Accountability? Change the subject, one recommends. Introspection? My own sister questions my ethics! Reform? I might not be re-elected!

Glad to see where the Natural Governing Party's priorities are.

Is there an Active Nemesis Factor at work here? Or something more?

Needless to say, many will watching the outcome of the (possible) May election and drawing conclusions.

Posted by Debbye at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2004

Oh no, not the Mint!

Mar. 3 - It's becoming a tidal wave! (because we're too close to spring to use the word snowball!) Now the Canadian Mint is being audited because in a time when the mint was losing money, top officials received a 45% salary increase even though staff members were being laid off due to shortages of money.

The Mint is a Crown Corporation and therefore does not have to make the audit public. The audit came about due to a whistleblower who learned that, after he was laid off in 2003, 12 others were laid off and 59 others were offered early retirement but the salaries of the top executives continued to grow.

Figures from the Mint show that between 1999 and 2003 the president's salary rose from $181,700 to $240,900. Vice-presidents got a $63,000 boost to $201,000 in that time period, while directors got a similar $60,000 raise to $189,662.

During the same period the financial fortunes of the Mint changed drastically. In 1999, it posted a $23.1-million profit. By 2003, that dropped to a $6.6-million loss.

Will public outrage finally force some reforms in how Crown Corportions are administered? PM Martin has made indications that future patronage appointments will be subject to vetting by Parliament during a meeting with Smith Falls' civic leaders yesterday.

In another development, warrants were opened to justify the RCMP raid on the BC legislature late December and it turns out the raids were conducted as part of an investigation into a breach of trust:

The summary prepared by special Crown prosecutor William Berardino says RCMP are investigating whether two government officials were offered promotions or employment opportunities for passing unauthorized confidential information to "persons interested in government business for the purpose of obtaining a benefit."

The case initially focused on one official and concerned proceeds of crime and corruption, the brief says. It led police to identify the second official and one other as persons of interest. The information used to obtain search warrants for the legislature referred to a B.C. government bulletin from Dec. 17, 2003, and the B.C. Rail Fairness Report done for former transport minister Judith Reid.

That report found the sale of B.C. Rail was conducted properly.

Posted by Debbye at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 3 - Who knew what and when they knew it seems to also be a why they did what they did and who knew they did it: Ex-official: Chretien accessed slush fund:

Former prime minister Jean Chretien dipped into a federal slush fund reserved strictly for his pet projects to create the sponsorship program, according to a senior public servant. Peter Harder, former treasury board secretary and comptroller general, said Chretien signed the submission launching the sponsorships in 1996 to ensure it got funding from a special pot.

"It was to access funds that were under his control in the fiscal framework," Harder told the Commons public accounts committee probing the AdScam scandal.

Harder, who held his position from 1995 to 2000, said it was "rare" to see the ex-PM's signature on a submission for cash, adding Chretien usually only backed those for Privy Council funds.

Harder, now a foreign affairs deputy minister, said the creation of sponsorships in 1997 was hidden by the Liberal government within the federal communications budget.

Why did the government feel it necessary to hide a program that is supposed to promote unity? I'm bewildered.

Posted by Debbye at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004


Mar. 2 - Although PM Martin has requested that those who didn't blow the whistle earlier come forward now, it only serves to underline the danger of not having protections for whistle-blowers in place. According to this report, not only was money of the budgets for other projects cut back to fund the program, Alfonso Gagliano, the Cabinet minister in charge of the sponsorship funds, was directly involved in deciding who got funds, and others observed the by-passing of procedure:

Both Quail and former public works deputy minister Janice Cochrane told MPs that in hindsight they see grave problems in the sponsorship program.

Cochrane said she was "never able to receive a satisfactory answer" to why the program was being run outside the normal checks and balances.

Who can doubt that many civil servants took their lesson from the treatment of the former president of the business Development Bank, Francois Beaudoin, to heart?

Posted by Debbye at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)


Mar. 2 - Another Instalaunch for The Globe and Mail and Margaret Wente's latest column in which she calls Jean Pelletier, Chretien's "Silent Executioner," on his arrogance:

There's only one explanation for Mr. Pelletier's bizarre remarks. He has pushed so many people around for so long that he thought nobody could ever push him back. For the past decade he was the PM's man, doing the PM's work. He had the habit of unchecked power, and old habits die hard.
On one hand, I'm glad to see Glenn helping expose the wretched state of how the Liberals run roughshod over anyone who tries to expose their thuggery, but on the other I'm saddened that the possibility of a spring election up might result in actually giving the Liberals a mandate which will make Canadians look incredibly ____ (fill in your own blank - I can't actually find a word.)

I think Glenn's motive, however, might be more that of taking aim at Americans who have been too admiring of Canada's public image without looking below the surface, so please put a hold on any return fire.

UPDATE: Could we please stop using the phrase street-fighter to describe Chretien? It insults street-fighters. Chretien was more a mobster, or thug. who wielded power by hiding behind those like Pelletier.

Posted by Debbye at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

Adscam: The Basics

Mar. 1 - Some background and players for framing questions that need to be asked to learn Who knew what and when

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Yes, that Carolyn Parrish

Feb. 27 - It's only libel if it's untrue, right?

Parrish, in turn, is threatening to sue Mahoney and some of his supporters for libel over an advertisement tells local Liberals they must choose between "a rude, careless, vulgar Carolyn Parrish or a reasonable, professional and strong MP, Steve Mahoney."
There's more to the story but that paragraph made me laugh.

UPDATE: Guess who was the parliamentary secretary for Alfonso Gagliano of Adscam fame? As Paul so aptly puts it, I love Karma and we deserve answers!

Posted by Debbye at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)


Feb. 27 - The evidence for the Adscam who knew and when they knew it continues to morph into who knew and pretended not to know it: Early audit saw flaws which flatly contradicts early suggestions that a rogue band of civil servants are the culprits and Cabinet really, really didn't know there were signs of wrongdoing in the awarding of sponsorship grants.

Note the dates:

An insider blew the whistle on blatant mismanagement of the government's sponsorship program in 1996 with a complaint so serious that the feds called in an outside auditor, a Commons committee heard yesterday. Prime Minister Paul Martin has insisted he wasn't aware of just how seriously mismanaged the $250-million program was until Auditor General Sheila Fraser found in 2002 that Groupaction Marketing billed taxpayers three times -- or $1.6 million -- for the same report.

But the Ernst & Young audit, tabled yesterday at the Commons committee tasked to dig through the sponsorship scandal, was handed to the Grits six years before then.

The audit detailed serious problems ranging from an "appearance of favouritism" during the selection of ad agencies, to meddling from the Privy Council Office.


According to newly declassified cabinet documents, former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano gave the sponsorship program a glowing endorsement in 2001, a year after a second damning internal audit.

Treasury Board Deputy Minister Jim Judd told the committee that Gagliano's assurances provided "some sense of security that the problems were being addressed."

That same year Treasury Board cancelled rules that required quarterly reports on the advertising and sponsorship activity of the government. (Emphasis added)

The ethical way to handle suspected graft is to eliminate the means to detect and track it! As the current PM sat on that Treasury Board, he has some explaining to do.

But there is another twist that has become a rallying point for the Opposition:

An unnamed minister is quoted in newly declassified minutes of a June 10, 2002, cabinet meeting as saying the $100-million commissions raked in by ad agencies were legitimate expenses. Only months prior the auditor general has accused public servants who handed out sponsorships of breaking every rule in the book.

Liberal House Leader Jacques Saada told the opposition that the minister's identity will only be revealed at a public inquiry. The opposition parties vowed yesterday to keep hammering at the Liberals for the name.

Because getting the name is just sooo important, but addressing the fact that maybe the system is the culprit and seeking to reform that evidently isn't a concern.

I wonder how much more credibility the Opposition parties would garner if they stopped aspiring for sound-bite publicity and actually tried to conduct themselves in ways that would convince the electorate that they are capable of leadership. And yes, that goes for parties on both sides of the border.

Show. Us. Respect.

There will probably be a national election up here sometime this year, but the issue is when. Andrew Coyne has some thoughts as to the timing of an election and his commenters, as always, are having a spirited and thoughtful debate. My personal concern is that if a national election up here is called too close to the presidential election down there, American issues rather than Canadian ones would dominate, but that's admittedly due to the fact that I am overly sensitive to how the unlike America mantra makes an inevitable appearance even in debates of strictly internal Canadian matters.

Posted by Debbye at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

Greg Sorbara, Ont. Min. of Finance

Feb. 27 - Yet another ethics issue in Ontario, this time with the current Liberal government and Finance Minister Greg Sorbara. Royal Group Technologies, for which Sorbara served as a director until he was appointed to the provincial Cabinet, is under criminal investigation, and despite calls for his resignation from the Oppostion, Sorbara is staying as Finance Minister.

The OSC [Ontario Securities Commission], the RCMP and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency are conducting various investigations into the finances of the Woodbridge-based building parts maker.

Despite being told of the investigation by the commission in December, Sorbara said yesterday he didn't tell Premier Dalton McGuinty about it until a company news release made the matter public late Wednesday.

McGuinty said Sorbara was legally bound not to share information about the investigation with him until it was made public this week.

Prior to Sorbara's announcement, the premier had expressed concerns about the province's own stock watchdog initiating the investigations.


Sorbara was a member of Royal Group's board and chaired the company's audit committee until he was named to McGuinty's cabinet last October. Company officials confirmed he resigned his seat on the board at that time.


While details of the investigation are scant, the company has disclosed that the OSC is looking into connections between the company's controlling shareholder, Vic De Zen, and a St. Kitts resort, casino and spa, also controlled by De Zen.

In the past five years, the resort has bought $32-million worth of goods and services from Royal Group.

"Mr. Sorbara was not on the board when the company was warned of the investigation," said Royal Group's general counsel Scott Bates.

Sorbara, as Finance Minister, was responsible for the OSC until yesterday when Premier McGuinty transferred responsibility for that post to another cabinet minister.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (12)

February 26, 2004

Patronage Appointments

Feb. 26 - One of the startling side-benefits of a scandal is how much more evidence tends to come to light about other instances of wrongdoing, even in (gasp!) Ontario (Hydro deals anger Tories - but let us be perfectly clear: the Tories are angry at . . . the Tories, or in particular, Mike Harris, for awarding the untendered contracts to political operatives.)

Freedom of Information documents released this week reveal that publicly owned Hydro One paid out $5.6 million to the companies of key Tory strategists Paul Rhodes, Leslie Noble, Michael Gourley and Tom Long, all influential players in the governments of Mike Harris and Eves.


And sources told Sun Media that many Tory MPPs are seething behind the scenes, distraught that the revelations are damaging their hard-won reputation as good fiscal managers.

Maybe after all the hand-wringing and lamentations are concluded some real leaders will look at reforming the system to close the obvious loopholes and opportunities for graft and corruption?

Posted by Debbye at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)


Feb. 25 - Use of the word Adscam is popping up in unexpected places, including this story about the Conservative Party leadership campaign in today's Toronto Sun, Belinda cash hurts party, rival beefs:

OTTAWA -- Conservative leadership frontrunner Stephen Harper says the financial muscle rival Belinda Stronach is flexing in Quebec could tarnish the party's image in a province already rocked by the Adscam sponsorship scandal. The Stronach campaign has repeatedly said it's bound by the same rules as the other leadership candidates and it's playing by them. (My emphasis)
It is even popping up out of context. Is that the next level of acceptance?

Posted by Debbye at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004


Feb. 25 - A column by Chantal Hebert of the Toronto Star, I got $50K from Liberal 'slush fund', reveals something that I think we all suspected: the federal Liberal party in Quebec were not the only ones who fed from the slush fund we call Adscam - the federal sponsorship program.

Posted by Debbye at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2004


Feb. 23 - Auditor General Sheila Fraser is naming some names: Who got what.

Not surprisingly, Groupaction is involved:

Groupaction got $6.7 million in two uncompetitive ad contracts.

One, for $5.4 million with Justice Canada, was given despite protests from Justice officials, who twice informed Public Works "they were not satisfied with Groupaction's work." The other, a $1.3-million deal with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, was given months after Public Works canceled a competitive process to pick an agency.

Groupaction was paid $795,000 for two contracts for which there is no evidence services were actually provided - one to promote the federal gun registry and another to sponsor, among other events, car races and horse shows.

The CCRA was involved? Anyone else up to their eyeballs with their employer's fiscal year end as well as readying their income tax returns? It's getting hard not to take these revelations personally.

Posted by Debbye at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Adscam - It's about our money, idiots

RECAP: Jaeger wrote Nous sommes en direct de la Rue des Pussies.

Laurent wrote We're All Catholics Now in response and Jaeger wrote We're All Catholics Now?. I'm putting them up at the top here because these posts have been a fascinating analysis of political and social changes in Quebec and thus Canada over the past 50 years.

Colby Cosh pointed out when the extent of outrage over Adscam became apparent that, in a twisted way, the aims of the Communication Canada program had been achieved: the country seems quite united--against the Liberals-- and we've seen the true nature of the government.

Tom Brobeck says it's all about trust:

What some Liberal MPs don't seem to understand about the Paul Martin scandal is that it goes well beyond the $250 million squandered on a bogus sponsorship program.

It's not about Quebec versus the rest of Canada -- a charred old chestnut some people in Ottawa are still willing to roast.

And it's not really about the extent to which the prime minister knew of the bogus contracts.

What this story is really about, and what the anger toward the Liberal government is about, is trust.

Paul Martin and the Liberal government broke the public trust.


Anyone who thinks this is just about the funneling of $100 million into bogus commissions to Liberal outfits doesn't understand politics.

You've got to go through the body count to even begin to understand what all the fuss is about.

It's the Human Resources "billion-dollar boondoggle," where hundreds of millions of dollars went missing and contracts were given out to companies where rules of engagement were completely ignored.

Paul Martin was the finance minister and vice-chair of Treasury Board during those years. Did he not pay attention to where all the money was going?

It's the billion-dollar, soon to be $2-billion, gun registry -- a program with questionable benefits that's gobbling up tax money faster than they can print it. Anne McLellan was the justice minister through many of those years. Did she have no handle whatsoever on the costs? She's now the deputy prime minister.

It's the employment insurance scandal, where billions of dollars are going missing every year. Paul Martin has charged workers and employers $44 billion more in EI premiums than he's paid out. And the money has been lost in general revenues.

Those were decisions Martin made. He balanced the books with EI money. And people got ripped off.

There's the advertising scandal exposed in Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report where -- among other things -- contracts were going out when no work was done at all.

Martin was in charge at the time. Where was the due diligence?

Then there's the sponsorship scandal where Liberal-friendly communications firms were getting 40% commissions for doing virtually no work at all.

What strikes me is that, although the stated aims of Communication Canada may have seemed superficial, Canadians were willing to pay for the program because they are genuinely interested in keeping Quebec in Confederation. That the program turned out to be an opportunist method for the federal Liberals to repay past contributors betrayed that interest, and, I think, hurt Canadians to the quick. The attempt to pass it off as Quebec corruption was a totally unprincipled act: those who claim to desire unity appealed to francophobia in an attempt to save their own hides.

People who speak about the lesser of two evils might want to re-think what they call evil.

So what next?

Andrew Coyne has been hosting a Constitutional debate here and the question of if Martin will call an election in the spring or wait until the investigation into Adscam is concluded here with Jay Currie's thoughts on the probable timing of the election here.

Posted by Debbye at 04:03 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

Chretien: Teflon; Martin: Velcro

Feb. 20 - Margaret Wente's column If Chretien was Teflon, Martin is Velcro gets an instalaunch.

Posted by Debbye at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Administrative failure

Feb. 18 - A 2000 Audit alleged fraud changes the current answer to that all-important question: what PM PM knew and when he knew it:

OTTAWA -- A 2000 public works internal audit that Prime Minister Paul Martin says only highlights the sponsorship program's "administrative failures," in fact details double-billing by ad agencies and alleges fraud. The 1,180-page audit points out specific instances in which ad agencies billed for items they didn't produce or expensed travel that wasn't linked to the sponsored event.

Martin has insisted it wasn't until a 2002 auditor general's report, which found that public servants broke the rules when they handed Groupaction $1.6 million for three almost identical reports, that he realized how serious the problems were in the $250-million sponsorship program. But the internal audit is filled with examples of questionable billing practices by ad agencies and secret deals between those firms and public servants.

According to the probe, taxpayers paid the Gosselin ad firm to produce different signs for the 1999 Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indies. Auditors found that the same sign was used twice.

Administrative failure. There ought to be a google for that. (busy sounds) Yes indeed: 2,210,00. Who knew?

At least some government types in Ontario are alert:

Ontario bureaucrats are rushing to reform a $1-billion research fund -- modelled after a similar federal program -- after the provincial auditor exposed its nearly complete lack of government oversight. Economic Development and Trade Deputy Minister Don Black said yesterday the Ontario Innovation Trust and other research grant-giving agencies will be opened to greater public oversight before the March 2005 deadline.

"A year from now is far too long," Black said. "Obviously what we had in place was not working."

New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson complained that changes come far too late. "I think the horse left the barn already."

Black and other ministry officials were before a legislative committee explaining how the five-year-old innovation fund could pay out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with no cabinet or ministerial scrutiny.

We all know what happens when there's no accountability, right?
Instead, an arms-length, non-profit subsidiary called Innovation Institute Ontario administers the $1-billion fund.

That same subsidiary was later awarded a $1.35-million contract to administer Ontario's $750-million Research and Development Challenge Fund without the normal public process of a request for proposals.

Not only did the auditor find apparent conflicts of interest within that organization's board, the office found miscalculated grant payments of up to $277,000. The auditor also reported a lack of proof that grants were being awarded in a fair, open way.

Columnist Mike Strobel has reassuring words for Canadians, though, that Adscam is Scandel-lite by, you know, American standards. Except that we don't routinely vote the bums back in with the pathetic better the devil you know excuse. We have a system which reduces patronage in the civil service which, though flawed, is considerably better than anything Canada has.

We vet our appointees at the Congressional level, including our Supreme Court judges. We also elect our Senate. The pork-barrellers up here don't even have to steal, they just have to bide their time to get life-long appointments and cushy pensions.

How do they get away with it, you ask? François Beaudoin knows what they can do to whistle-blowers. M. Beaudoin was recently vindicated, but how many have his resources to fight it all the way up to Quebec Superior Court?

There is no protection for whistle-blowers here, you see, but for the inquiry into this scandel, they are being guaranteed protection if they come forward. What about the scandels that have yet to be uncovered? Up. The. Creek.

Still wonder why taxes in the US are considerably less than in Canada? It's not about the free health care system, it's about the extravagent patronage system.

Posted by Debbye at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2004

Auditor General's Report

Feb. 11 - I've given up writing anything coherent about the Auditor General's latest report.

Sure, it's my tax money they've lost/stolen/abused. Sure, it's about events that go back several years and the trail is probably cold, but it's one of many boondoggles from the Palestinian Authority, the European Union, allegations that Chirac's party was involved in redirecting public funds to itself and the failure of the UN to investigate corruption in the Oil for Food Program.

I'm stuck at the notion that Canada certainly is becoming more European, and I don't know how to write about that without being really, really nasty.

UPDATE: Colby Cosh has quite an impressive post about the mess, and suggests that, in an odd way, the Communications Commission may actually have succeeded in its mandate:

But in an odd sort of way, the sponsorship program may have accomplished exactly what was intended for it. It was meant to create national unity and teach Canadians about the true nature of their government. Today the country seems quite united--against the Liberals--and as lessons in Liberal administrative practices go, it is hard to imagine a better one.

Posted by Debbye at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2004

Whistleblower protections

Jan. 21 - The Public Service Alliance of Canada president is urging PM Martin to protect whistleblowers and tighten controls over free-spending public servants, saying that the excesses are making all federal employees look bad.

The problem perhaps lies with patronage appointees being considered "public servants." Their loyalty is going to be to those who appointed them, and they are often appointed as a reward for their loyalty.

A department is only going to function as well as its head allows, yet the head often is stymied by entrenched public servants who are determined to keep the status quo and the solution often translates to more regulations which means more public servants to enforce regulations which means more members of the Public Service Alliance and that in turn makes their motives somewhat suspicious.

Wasteful and profligate spending is hardly new nor is it restricted to Canada, but it has harmed something Canadians hold very dear - the health care system, and that is making people mad.

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)