Adscam Scandel

Another Publication Ban for the Gomery Inquiry – Canadian Adscam Scandel

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Former Sponsorship boss Chuck Guite and a leading witness will soon take the stand at the Gomery Inquiry and Justice Gomery has again imposed a publication ban:

MONTREAL (CP) – A key player in the sponsorship scandal saddling Paul Martin’s Liberal government appears before the Gomery inquiry this week, but a publication ban will temporarily keep the contents under wraps.

Former sponsorship boss Chuck Guite could testify as early as Wednesday about his role in controlling sponsorship funds during an era when rules and laws were allegedly broken and money was funnelled to middlemen for little work.

But inquiry justice John Gomery, in a bid to protect a potential jury pool, has slapped a publication ban on Guite’s testimony, which could run until early next week.

The ban applies as well to testimony by ad man Paul Coffin, who also faces trial and is scheduled to take the stand on Tuesday.

The judge will hear arguments from various lawyers, including those from the media, before deciding whether to lift the ban following testimony by each of the men.

Current and former prominent politicians could be implicated directly if Guite spills the beans on his political masters, including former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano.

Guite, who was described by Gomery before Christmas as a “charming scamp,” has already said his elected bosses cleared every move he made while running the sponsorship program in the 1990s and had the final say in every spending decision.

He has also said he dealt directly with ex-prime minister Jean Chretien’s chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, when discussing sponsorship matters in 1996.

Gagliano, Chretien and Prime Minister Paul Martin all denied in the Ottawa phase of the inquiry that they knew about any wrongdoing or controlled where the sponsorship money went.

The sponsorship inquiry drew international headlines earlier this month after Gomery lifted a publication ban on testimony by ad man Jean Brault of Groupaction Marketing.

Brault blew the whistle on an alleged conspiracy with top federal Liberal officials to secretly funnel $1.1 million to the party in exchange for sponsorship contracts.

The allegations have thrust all parties into election mode. The Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives appear favourable to toppling the government and forcing a spring election.

Many of the details of Brault’s testimony had been leaked to a U.S. blog site before the ban was lifted, allowing Canadians to read the forbidden details and making the contents the subject of innuendo on Parliament Hill.

While Guite approved massive commissions pocketed by Brault and other sponsorship middlemen, it isn’t clear whether he knew about the alleged scheme to fatten Liberal coffers.

Brault and Guite are to be tried together on fraud and conspiracy related to sponsorship contracts. Jury selection in the trial will begin June 6 after a judge decided the original date of May 2 was too close to his appearance at the sponsorship inquiry.

Coffin faces 18 counts of fraud in a separate trial for allegedly submitting fake and inflated invoices totalling almost $2 million in sponsorship contracts.

Chuck Guite, the public works official who ran the federal sponsorship program until 1999, faces questioning this week.

Captain Ed over at Captain’s Quarters opines:

…Gomery’s publication ban only applied, of course, to rebroadcasting the specifics of Jean Brault’s testimony. If one was either fortunate or well-connected, seats were available for the public hearing in which Brault testified to accepting and making bribes and kickbacks in exchange for contract renewals, as well as hiring Liberal Party workers who never performed any work at all for Brault — but spent their time on party business, off the books.

Politicians will know the specific testimony of the two witnesses at the end of each day, if not almost in real time. Some media sources will watch and hear Guité and Coffin tell everything they know about Adscam and the politicians who profited most from it on live TV feeds that they will be barred from rebroadcast. The only people left in the dark will be those Canadians who have seen their money stolen by the people they trusted to wield power lawfully.

As part of the ‘imperfection’ mentioned tangentially in the Montreal Gazette, I had hoped that the brouhaha over my publication of Brault’s testimony would have convinced Justice Gomery of the folly of publication bans. Apparently not. If my original source can get me reliable information on the testimony under the ban, I will republish it again here.

So, is Justice Gomery trying to stir up media attention again? Or is he really serious about preserving fair trials? Or bringing down the Liberal Party and Canadian Government?

Probably the latter rather than the former.


Canadian Adscam Scandel: The Gomery Publication Ban: Could we have been used?

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Canadian Blogger Angry in the Great White North has this opinion piece as to whether Justice Gomery may have manipulated the MSM and blogosphere to bring world attention to the Adscam Scandel:

This has been a thought that first came to me during the Gomery publication ban. It keeps popping up in my head, so I’m finally putting it in writing for your consideration.

Could Justice Gomery had intended to have what happened happen?

If you recall, or if you are just tuning in, a publication ban existed during the explosive testimony of Jean Brault, when it was first revealed just how extensive and criminal were the activities of the Liberal Party under the auspices of the Sponsorship Program. Instead of merely being an example of government waste, and an example of contracts being given out to friends, the allegations re-cast the program as a money laundering scheme designed to move millions from the government purse into the coffers of the Liberal Party, paying off party debt and positioning the party for the next election.

Jean Brault was facing criminal charges, and not wanting to taint the jury pool in Montreal, Justice Gomery instituted a publication ban. That made it illegal for any media outlet to report on the testimony. But what made it strange was that the hearings are being held in Montreal, and that the ban did not include banning the public from attending the hearings. So even though it was illegal for a local newspaper in Vancouver to report on the story, any Montrealer could go into the hearings (and the audience chamber is packed every day), listen to what was said, then leave and tell his friends and family.

Word of what was said was destined to be common knowledge in Montreal, if no where else.

What happened though was that Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters picked up the story, having had the details sent to him by someone at the hearings. Several Canadian bloggers (including yours truly) joined into to publish the material despite the ban, and over the next four days, hundreds of thousands of Canadians visited these various sites and learned what was said, and the allegations became common knowledge everywhere.

Noises were made about laying charges, but nothing happened. Before the end of the week, the ban was lifted.

Justice Gomery is no fool. We also know there is no love lost between him and former prime minister Jean Chretien. Prior to the ban, the Gomery Inquiry was barely a blip on the radar in English Canada, followed only by the chattering class and political bloggers. Now, of course, it’s all we’re talking about.

Did Justice Gomery manufacture the conditions for his revenge? When he lifted the ban, he had no angry words for bloggers who were defying the ban. Indeed, he echoed what many of us said about the danger a ban constitutes to our constitutional rights. Then the ban was gone, and the pressure that had been building in the main stream media as they watched the best political story in years being carried by amateurs was released in an explosion of front page in-depth articles from coast to coast.

If I wanted my commission to become front page news, I couldn’t have stage-managed a better sequence of events to make sure that happened.

OK, cue the X-Files theme.

A very plausible thesis! And, yes it crossed Flap’s mind as well!


Martin vows to fight Chrétien challenge to probe

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The Globe and Mail has the latest machinations of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Adscam Scandel:

Prime Minister Paul Martin returned to the airwaves Friday, expressing regret that he did not know about the sponsorship scandal sooner and vowing that the government would go to court to keep the Gomery inquiry going if necessary.

Only 12 hours after delivering a national, televised address, Mr. Martin appeared on CTV’s Canada AM, again saying that Canadians need to hear all of the Gomery commission’s findings .

He also said Ottawa would take legal recourse if a challenge by former prime minister Jean Chrétien to the proceedings proves successful.

Mr. Chrétien has mounted a legal challenge to the sponsorship inquiry, which he has called biased. The court has agreed to start hearings June 7.

Mr. Martin also said Friday that his office has not contacted Mr. Chrétien, asking that the former Prime Minister apologize for the situation.

“We are going to fight to keep the inquiry going and there’s no doubt in my mind that the courts – if, in fact, it came to that – will allow the inquiry to keep going,” Mr. Martin said.

“It’s very, very important that the inquiry be allowed to continue its work.”
On Thursday night, Mr. Martin – faced with a faltering Liberal minority government and the threat the Opposition members may force an election – said he would call a vote within 30 days of Justice John Gomery’s final report on the inquiry, due in December.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who called Mr. Martin’s TV address a “sad spectacle,” has suggested that his party may look to send Canadians to the polls this spring.

He reiterated his criticism on Friday. “It’s great to say we’re trying to fix this scandal, which has been going on for two years, and we need another eight months,” Mr. Harper said in a later appearance on the CTV program.

“That really doesn’t provide me a very good reason to morally, ethically or politically to prop up this government.”

Mr. Harper would not say specifically that he would press for a spring vote. He said instead that his party would “listen to the people in the next week, and our caucus will meet when we return, and we’ll probably have a pretty good idea of the timing.”

Earlier reports in The Globe and Mail have suggested the Conservatives have set May 19 as the day they will most likely attempt defeat the minority government, paving the way for a June 27 election, although the dynamics of the House of Commons suggest a no-confidence vote would be close.

Meanwhile, the acrimony over the situation again spilled over into the House of Commons, with Conservative MPs grilling the government over what they say are discrepancies between Mr. Martin’s testimony before the Gomery inquiry and that of other witnesses.

Claude Boulay, one of the ad executives embroiled in the sponsorship scandal, testified Thursday that he met with Mr. Martin at least twice a week when he worked on the politician’s election campaign in 1993.

Mr. Boulay’s wife Diane Deslauriers testified she saw Mr. Martin daily during that campaign.
“How can the Prime Minister, with these glaring on the record expect Canadians to believe him,” deputy Conservative leader Peter MacKay asked.

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, however, challenged the Tories’ interpretation of the situation, saying Mr. Martin stands by his testimony and again called for the Opposition to wait for the commission to do its work before drawing conclusions.

Earlier Friday, Mr. Martin said again that Canadians need a full picture of how the sponsorship scandal played out before drawing their conclusions.

“They want to know what happened,” Mr. Martin said. “I think they want to know who is responsible and I think they want to know that the government’s going to punish them.

“I’m going to do that and I think they want Judge Gomery to report before they have to pass judgment on the government.”

Although Mr. Martin acted as Finance Minister while the sponsorship program was in place, he said his job at the time was to set the nation’s fiscal framework.

“It is not the minister of finance who follows where the money goes,” he said. “And none of the senior officials, the deputy minister of finance didn’t know about this and therefore there’s no way the minister of finance in that capacity would have known.”

That being said, he added, he doesn’t believe that is the way governments should work and, once he became Prime Minister, he brought in “a whole new set of spending controls so that won’t happen again.”

As well, he said he doesn’t believe members of his department kept information from him in an effort to protect him at a time when his rivalry with Mr. Chrétien was coming to a head.

“If that were the case, I would be very, very mad.”

But, Mr. Martin also said he was sorry that the situation arose in the first place.

“I do regret very, very much that the government – and I was – not more vigilant in checking it out,” he said.

“But the deputy minister of finance didn’t know, therefore it’s very hard for the minister to know.

“But I now take my responsibilities as Prime Minister and I changed that fact and I do very much regret that we did not know.”

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, meanwhile, was ready to pull the election plug, saying Mr. Martin has “no more moral authority or moral legitimacy.”

He said there would be no need for a vote if Mr. Martin resigned. NDP Leader Jack Layton, on the other hand, struck a conciliatory note when asked about an election.

“Ultimately, Canadians will let us know when they think it absolutely is time, but in the meantime let’s try to do something positive for the Canadian population,” he said during an interview on CBC.

He has said he would like corporate tax cuts removed from the budget bill: “I’d like to see a budget, an improved budget, passed by the House.”

Paul Martin should cut a deal and resign post haste.


Prime Minister Paul Martin Offers to Call Election Within 30 Days of Gomery Report

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The Globe and Mail has the following on the Adscam Scandel:

Prime Minister Paul Martin offered to call an election within 30 days of the final report from the Gomery commission, in an extraordinary prime-time address to Canadians Thursday night.

He made the speech in an effort to stem the damage the sponsorship scandal has caused the Liberal party and to appeal directly to Canadians.
“I commit to you tonight that I will call a general election within 30 days of the publication of the commission’s final report and recommendations. Let [Mr. Justice John] Gomery do his work. Let the facts come out. And then the people of Canada will have their say,” Mr. Martin said from the desk in his office, in a taped televised address in both French and English.
Mr. Martin said he takes responsibility for the actions of his party and is prepared to let Canadians judge his response to this test of his leadership.

“I will be politically accountable. But I believe that before there is an election, you are entitled to answers — to the answers that [Mr. Justice John] Gomery is working toward,” he said.

The final report from Mr. Justice John Gomery is expected to be released in mid-December.
Mr. Martin said he recognizes that the choice to hold an election may not be his, as the opposition parties could bring forward a no-confidence motion and bring down the government.

“If the opposition forces an election before then, that is their choice. But I believe we can do better. I believe we can — and we should — use the coming months to pursue the public’s business,” he said.
Opposition Leader Stephen Harper did not respond positively to Mr. Martin’s plea to wait until December to hold an election.

In a speech in the foyer of the House of Commons immediately following Mr. Martin’s speech, Mr. Harper said Mr. Martin is the leader who called an election last year, before the Gomery commission had heard a single witness.

“We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle — a Prime Minister so burdened with corruption in his own party t
hat he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance,” Mr. Harper said.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Mr. Martin’s words did nothing to change the opinion of the Bloc on Liberal corruption. He said his party still plans to vote against the Liberal budget implementation bill when it comes to a vote.

NDP Leader Jack Layton, however, offered an olive branch to the Prime Minister, saying his party would consider supporting the Liberals on the budget bill if they were willing to make some changes.
The minority Liberals are outnumbered in the House of Commons and would need the support of the NDP to pass the bill.

In his speech, the Prime Minister also went over a number of steps that he took, beginning when he became Liberal Leader in late 2003, including firing former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, setting up the sponsorship inquiry, cancelling the sponsorship program and launched lawsuits to try to recover some of the money that went missing.

He said the Liberal Party takes full responsibility for the sponsorship scandal.

Ok, he takes responsibility….. how about resigning?