February 27, 2004

Frost Hits the Rhubarb

Updates on the Liberal Sponsorship/Slush Fund Scandal

Since the article below was written, Quebec Olympic gold medalist Miriam (Myriam?) Bedard has come forward and stated to the media today that she had written to Prime Minister Paul Martin Feb. 13, 04 about losing her job at Via Rail because she questioned what Via Rail was getting for the sums that were being billed--or paid--to Groupaction. What she says has the ring of truth. The fact that certain principals involved--or was it only one?--from Via Rail tried to blacken her reputation makes what happened to her all the more despicable. This Liberal slush fund scandal is growing -- getting dirtier and people are lashing out in an effort to save themselves. NJC

Which brings me to Francois who sent this today.

Gagliano vows to defend his honour
Feb. 26, 2004

OTTAWA - Alfonso Gagliano promised Wednesday to fight for his reputation when he goes before a parliamentary committee looking into the sponsorship scandal. And in reference to his activities involving the Canada Lands Corp., Canadian Press reported Gagliano suggested that his actions were orchestrated from above. "He's the boss," Gagliano said of former prime minister Jean Chrétien. "I served the way he wanted me to serve."

Everyone down the ladder is gonna roll over on Chrétien. Like Mafiosos who rat out the boss for immunity, no one is gonna want to take the heat for this. Especially since "da boss" is now "da ex-boss". This comparison isn't too far off. Criminal charges are almost a sure thing. Will people who were acting on orders from the PMO be willing to risk doing jail time to protect Chrétien? I think not.

Looks like Chrétien will have his long sought legacy. It will rightfully be to go down in history as the worst PM we've ever had. Looks good on him.

The question was, what did Chrétien know? We all suspected that Chrétien knew all about it. If there was any lingering doubts, Gagliano's comments have removed them. Since a criminal trial is all but certain, the new question is: Will people do jail time and who will these people be?


Thanks for that, Francois. Now, on to Chantal.

Chantal Hebert on the Endemic Corruption

An epidemic of amnesia -- None of the major players in the sponsorship scandal seems aware they were breaking nearly every accounting rule Chantal Hebert, The Star, Feb. 25, 04

There is ample evidence that the systemic roots of the problem run deeper than the surface of the management of Crown corporations.

They run so deep, in fact, that any future finding of specific bad behaviour by the inquiries that will look into the sponsorship scandal is unlikely to really get at them.

[. . . . ] A fortnight ago, the BDC chairman was savaged by Quebec Superior Court Judge André Denis for his role in the firing without compensation of former bank president François Beaudoin.

In short, the court found [Michel] Vennat to have had a hand in a vendetta against Beaudoin after the latter refused to extend more loans to a hotel in then-prime minister Jean Chrétien's riding.

[. . . .] Just last week, with the evidence of the court and the Auditor-General on the table, the bank's board gave Vennat a vote of confidence.

Having had the Prime Minister himself disavow their collective judgment, should the members of the BDC board not resign, too?

And if they do not, what does the episode say about their future capacity to act as watchdogs of the management of the bank rather than as cheerleaders of one of their own?

If and when Martin removes Chrétien appointees from the management and the boards of Crown corporations, the Prime Minister is bound to replace them.

Unless he is ready to undertake a dramatic overhaul of the Canadian patronage system, he will basically be exchanging his predecessor's cronies for his own.

[. . . . ] In the Beaudoin court case, Jean Carle — a Chrétien aide who landed an executive position at the bank — testified that, as part of his efforts to involve the BDC in the government's visibility campaign, he had held meetings with a host of Quebec ministers as well as with Chuck Guité, the civil servant who originally ran the sponsorship program for the government.

In the wake of news reports of Carle's testimony, former justice minister Martin Cauchon said he had no recollection of the meeting.

Industry Minister Lucienne Robillard went one further. She denied it had ever taken place and hinted Carle was lying.

[. . . . ] VIA Rail chairman Jean Pelletier escaped the wrath of the Prime Minister yesterday. That's because he was not running VIA when it was involved in dubious sponsorship transactions.

Instead, Pelletier was calling the shots for Chrétien at the Prime Minister's Office.
As chief of staff, he had primary responsibility for the government's Quebec strategy as well as for arbitrating whatever issues involved the Quebec wing of the Liberal party.

Well, that explains it. He would not have known -- nor would Paul Martin. I am so relieved! NJC


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