February 27, 2004

Frost Hits the Rhubarb

Did Jean Chretien Know? Does a Bear **** in the Woods?

Chretien approved funds to Via Rail, Quebec projects: Treasury Board papers Louise Elliott, CP, Feb. 25, 04

OTTAWA (CP) - Former prime minister Jean Chretien personally approved sponsorship funds to Via Rail and several Quebec projects according to cabinet documents that until this week remained secret.

Chretien signed off on a 1997 Treasury Board request for nearly $19 million sponsorship funding with an attached list of projects that included a dubious magazine proposal from Via Rail.

The magazine was sharply criticized by Auditor General Sheila Fraser [. . . .]

But Treasury Board President Reg Alcock said Chretien's intervention was unusual, adding he has never seen a prime minister sign off on a Treasury Board request.

[. . . .] Chretien signed a November 1997 request from Public Works through Treasury Board for $18.8 million in additional funds for "communications priorities." The program's budget later grew to $40 million a year.

A background document accompanying the form signed by Chretien delineates projects including $1.3 million for a "cultural exchange" project at Via Rail and a $500,000 grant for Via Magazine. The list also includes $800,000 for the Montreal Canadiens, $200,000 for the Carnaval de Quebec, $500,000 for "promotional items" and $5.6 million for the Nagano Olympic Project. The Nagano money later went to Groupaction, a Quebec ad firm at the centre of the scandal, although the company's name is not mentioned on the list.


Yes, a bear does live in the woods.

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