Sunday, May 08, 2005

Paul Martin Wants Canadians to Know the Truth before an Election – Don’t You Believe It

Last year Paul Martin made a promise to Canadians that he would not call an election until Canadians knew the truth about the sponsorship scandal. Instead, he broke that promise. He shut down the Public Accounts Committee that was looking into liberal corruption and called an unnecessary early election in June of 2004.

In a passionate plea to the committee Chair, Member of Parliament Jason Kenney told the committee what information would be suppressed by Paul Martin’s decision to pass a motion and call that early election.

Here is what Jason Kenney said on May 11, 2004, twelve days before Paul Martin called last year's election:

Mr. Chairman, I don't believe that my colleagues opposite, for whom I have considerable regard, believe any more than I do that this committee is coming to the end of the process. Yes, we have had hearings for some ten weeks, but I would point out that the judicial inquiry plans to begin holding hearings in September of this year and not to issue its final report until December of 2005, a 14-month period.

I would not hope this committee would take that long to examine these matters, but clearly it's going to take longer than the ten weeks we have been working to hear, for instance, from the some 90 witnesses on the prospective witness list from whom we have not yet heard, beginning, for instance, with former minister Boudria, the former Minister of Public Works.

If this motion passes this morning, we will never hear from Don Boudria, the Minister of Public Works immediately following Mr. Gagliano. He inherited the department; he inherited the sponsorship program. I don't know whether he was given instructions to clean it up. What I do know is that Mr. Boudria had a very close working relationship with Claude Boulay, and that raises all sorts of reasonable questions, which we should want to put. We do know that Mr. Boudria disclaimed any personal knowledge of or any relationship with, Charles Guité; but Mr. Guité testified, effectively, that Mr. Boudria was very, very familiar with him and his activities. But we won't hear from Don Boudria if this motion is passed.

We won't hear from Art Eggleton, who was President of the Treasury Board for three years during this program's operation. If we are, indeed, pursuing the question of ministerial responsibility, we might want to know what the presidents of the Treasury Board knew during this period, when they knew it, and what they did about it. We won't hear from Marcel Masse, who was the President of Treasury Board for two and a half years, the critical years during this process. We won't hear his testimony about what he knew as Treasury Board president, including the audits that were received, the internal audits, and the external audits. We won't hear from the Honourable Lucienne Robillard, who was President of the Treasury Board for another three and a half years. She's on the prospective witness list, but if this motion is passed and an election is called, we'll never hear from her in this regard.

We won't hear from ministers such as Anne McLellan or Andy Scott, who were sitting on the cabinet communications committee, chaired by Alfonso Gagliano, which met and discussed issues related to the sponsorship program. We won't hear from David Anderson, who was also on the ad hoc communications committee, and whose constituency office intervened to ensure that constituents received favorable attention from this program, and whose constituency staff said to the media that this sponsorship program was “a secret slush fund”.

We will not have an opportunity, if this motion passes and an election is called, to hear from Denis Coderre, whose name has come up at virtually every one of these meetings, who apparently was a frequent caller to the sponsorship office and who communicated frequently with the senior managers of that office, who of course had a relationship with several senior ad agency personnel.

We won't hear from the industry professionals that Dennis Mills wanted us to interview, such as people from the Advertising Standards Association of Canada. We won't hear from the Institute of Communications and Advertising. We won't hear from the association of Quebec advertising agencies, who Liberals had asked be put on the witness list, should this motion pass and a whitewash report be tabled in the House.

We'll never hear at this committee from Robert Scully, the president of L'Information essentielle, who was a key player in the Rocket Richard series that was highlighted so clearly by the Auditor General. Nor will we hear from Claudette Théorêt, who was the senior staffer at L'Information essentielle, about the financial transactions between the various crown corporations and the CCSB.

We won't hear from the various experts on ministerial accountability, which Mr. Murphy says is a key issue. I agree with him. And the Liberals have added to the prospective witness list a dozen leading academic and former political experts, like Professor Donald Savoie, from the University of Moncton, probably the leading expert in this field in Canada; like John Roberts, former Liberal cabinet minister; and like David Zussman, professor at Carleton and a leading adviser to the government on these questions. They won't testify and we won't have the benefit of their expertise.

If this motion passes, we won't hear from key ministerial staff on our witness list, such as: Steve VanderWal, special assistant to David Anderson; and Tony Chang, Minister Anderson's constituency assistant, who told Jamie Kelley, a constituent in Victoria, that they could help him access money from a “secret slush fund”, which turned out to be the CCSB. We won't have heard from Mario Laguë, the Prime Minister's communications director, who was the secretary to the cabinet communications committee chaired by Alfonso Gagliano, and who attended meetings to sanitize the publication of audit reports on the sponsorship program.

We won't hear from Bruce Hartley, the gatekeeper to former Prime Minister Chrétien, on what information passed his desk with respect to the program. We won't hear from Carl Littler, whose name is cited in the retail debt strategy memos that were brought to us by Allan Cutler. We won't hear from Terrie O'Leary, former executive assistant to the current Prime Minister, who was deeply involved in seeking a sole-source contract for Earnscliffe and pushed that Groupe Everest receive government advertising contracts. We will never hear from her.

Warren Kinsella is a key witness, and we won't have heard from him, Mr. Chair. We can't draw any conclusions from testimony from him that we haven't heard. He's the former executive assistant to David Dingwall. Mr. Guité has said that he had meetings with Warren Kinsella. I mean, we've probably had over a dozen witnesses testify to the central role of Warren Kinsella in the office of David Dingwall, on the knowledge he had. Mr. Kinsella came up even in Allan Cutler's testimony.

And there's Jean Carle, Mr. Chair. I'm advised by the clerks that they've been trying to contact Mr. Carle to arrange possible testimony this week. Again, Mr. Carle was an absolutely key player. Not only was he the right-hand man to Jean Chrétien, but Jean Pelletier himself, former chief of staff to the former Prime Minister, said that Jean Carle attended meetings, including meeting with Chuck Guité about the sponsorship program. Here is one of the two key links between Guité, the sponsorship program, and the top level of the Prime Minister's Office. We haven't heard from him, and we won't if this motion passes and an election is called.

Nor will we have heard from Pierre Lesieur, who was special assistant for Quebec to Alfonso Gagliano, who worked directly with Jean-Marc Bard and Pierre Tremblay in that office. He was responsible for political files in Quebec and clearly would be a source of very pertinent testimony.

Nor will we have heard from Albano Gidaro, who was legislative assistant to Alfonso Gagliano as Minister of Public Works, who had a long-standing relationship with former Minister Gagliano and could shed light on the very peculiar workings of that office.

We won't have heard from Elly Alboim, one of the principals at Earnscliffe, who of course benefited from sole-source contracts that bent the rules, whose name was raised by Allan Cutler, the chief whistle-blower, etc.

We won't have heard from Jacques Hudon from Groupaction. He was a registered lobbyist, Mr. Chair, for Groupaction, hired by Jean Brault, a man now under criminal charges. It also happens that he was a former speechwriter to the current Prime Minister, Mr. Martin. I can't imagine why we wouldn't want to hear his testimony.

We won't have heard from Senator David Smith, a man I have a lot of regard for. Now, he was a lobbyist for the former Canada Communication Group and attempted to extend the privilege of administrative arrangement provided to that company to provide a monopoly over most federal printing contracts.

We won't have heard from a number of key players in the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec who could testify about the fundraising activities of the party as they relate to the ad agencies. We know there have been criminal convictions of former officials involved in the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec with respect to influence peddling, and it would be extremely relevant to hear from such people as Raymond Garneau, Daniel Dezain, Stephen LeDrew, Senator Paul Massicotte, Buryl Wiseman, Giuseppe Morselli, and Françoise Patry, just as an example of key players in the Parti libéral du Canada au Québec who could testify about what they knew and whether there was any mutual back-scratching going on between the ad agencies and the Liberal Party.

Mr. Chair, it is a key question whether money found its way back into the Liberal Party. It's not just a partisan point. I know the Prime Minister has said he wants to get to the bottom of that question, which is why the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec has appointed its own forensic auditor to pursue these critical issues.

If this motion passes and an election is called, we won't have heard from Pierre Brodeur, former political assistant to Alfonso Gagliano, who worked in the office and would have interesting light to shed.

Mr. Chairman, what about Vincenzo Gagliano, son of Alfonso Gagliano, who obtained printing contracts from Groupaction and Groupe Everest? There have been very interesting questions raised about whether he was given preferential treatment and what happened to the money he received from those contracts.

We won't have heard, if this motion passes, from Senator Wilfred Moore, chair of the Bluenose II Preservation Trust, who can give us a full accounting of the very questionable Bluenose sponsorship program.

We won't have heard from Roger Collet, former head of the Canada Information Office established by former Minister Copps, which eventually became the CCSB; he's a critical witness.

We have asked--I think members opposite have asked--that the prospective witness list include a certified fraud examiner or money-laundering expert from the RCMP who could help us to deepen the knowledge we gained last week from KPMG on the nature of money-laundering transactions and how they're executed.

And of course, Mr. Chairman, we will not have heard from the Right Honorable Jean Chrétien about what he knew and when he knew it. We heard from his chief of staff that he, the chief of staff, had regular and ongoing meetings with Chuck Guité. We've heard from every senior witness that such a relationship between the chief of staff to the Prime Minister and a mid-level bureaucrat was extremely unusual. We've heard that Jean Chrétien made the visibility of the federal government of Canada one of his top priorities. We've heard him boast about how in the 1980 referendum he bought up all the billboard space in Quebec for the Government of Canada, a tactic eerily reminiscent of what Mr. Guité testified to.

Mr. Chairman, I do not believe this committee's work will be complete until we hear directly from Mr. Chrétien under oath about what he knew, what instructions he gave, and what advice he received from Jean Pelletier and from Jean Carle. Mr. Pelletier said he heard rumors about potential fraud in the program; we'd like to know if Jean Chrétien heard similar rumors.

We will not, if this motion passes and if an election is called, have an opportunity to hear for a second time from Mr. Gagliano, David Dingwall, and Diane Marleau, all of whom are former Liberal ministers responsible for Public Works. All of their testimony has been contradicted by other witnesses appearing before us, most spectacularly that of Mr. Gagliano. David Dingwall, for instance, testified that he basically didn't know who Chuck Guité was, and we've heard from at least three witnesses that Mr. Dingwall in fact had met with Mr. Guité with some degree of frequency. Mr. Guité claims he never had the discussion with Madam Marleau where she told him he wasn't welcome to report directly to her. These are central questions.

You can see, Mr. Chairman, I've just gone through a small selection of the list of prospective witnesses yet to be called. There are more than twice as many witnesses from whom we have not yet heard as witnesses from whom we have already heard. In that respect we are roughly a third of the way through this inquiry in terms of the number of witnesses on the witness list.

Now that Canadians know what Paul Martin suppressed from Canadians last election, it is time for a do over at the ballot box.


At 8:16 a.m., Blogger Canadi-anna said...

There are so many names, so many links to this corruption -- it makes it impossible to keep track of it all. But I guess that's the point though isn't it? At Gomery, they've buried us with triviality and minutiae and from what you've said lately, there are still key players who are not on witness list.
I don't think we'll ever know the truth. It's all just 'he said' vs 'he said'. Even those who want answers won't be able to draw accurate conclusion.
As much as I want an election, I'm also afraid if we have a 'do over' they're going to win big-time.
Global National did 'man on the street' interviews here in Toronto yesterday, and not one person they spoke to was considering anything other than Liberal.
Is it nice in Manitoba?

At 12:11 p.m., Blogger Michael said...

Manitoba is nice if you stay out in the country. Sadly, 3 out of 5 Manitobans live in Winnipeg, and this is a socialist NDP city.

At 1:29 p.m., Blogger Canadi-anna said...

Are you right in Winnipeg?
If you are, you must feel as out of place there, as I do being a conservative here in Toronto.

At 2:03 p.m., Blogger Michael said...

I live right downtown and yes, I feel totally out of place here.

At 3:08 p.m., Blogger Canadi-anna said...

Maybe we should both move to Alberta.

At 3:10 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps some of us feel out of place, in this country as a whole.

Anyone ever been told by an astute 'lefty' ..."that if you don't like it here, move!"

Happens on an increasing is smarmy Toronto.

At 6:42 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently the mean-spirited village of Waterdown, ON was delared the "Small Minds Capital of Canada."

At 10:10 p.m., Anonymous rob said...

In Alberta the anger is at a huge level. If the Libranos win, that could be it.

I'm surprised that everyone else falls for promises they'll never see. Kind of strange how short memories are, but I guess if they keep increasing there promises in every election, no one will notice.

At 11:54 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's my feeling that well placed "promises", serve to placate, appease and purchase the votes of those with "me-first" attitudes.

In the next election, a Canada as it defines itself, will either emerge or be cemented.

At 7:45 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you feel out of place in toronto and winnipeg, so do I in the national capital region. In my region they say if you paint a pig red and let it loose on the street on election day the people will vote for it. I am not a liberal at the federal government, My first time voting was a vote against trudeau. At the provincial level i am liberal. No choice there either liberal or p.q. I voted for Mulroney, and i liked his platform. I know people hate him because of TPS but he had no choice with the canadian debts. He was call a crook and accused of stealing from the tax payer what a laugh. Look at what the liberals did. The accuser where the one doing the dead. And yes people will vote for them again and again and they will destroy canada. In the last election i had to vote for the bloc. This time i am voting Harper and big time too, so is my daughter, son in law, husband. Lets try to get them out.

At 8:44 a.m., Anonymous crabby mr bill said...

Why has no one continued to pound away at the idea that this is a "LIBERAL" scandal and not a "CANADIAN" scandal? Why do Canadians want a crook leading their country?
In a very warped way, I hope that an election is called and the Liberals win and get to form the next government, this will be the final straw to the citizens of Alberta that there is no intellegence in the rest of Canada, and the time to leave Confederation is upon us, as well Quebec will pull the plug, not bad for the party that fought so hard to keep Quebec in Canada eh?
I have also heard all the rumblings that Canadians don't want to pay for another election, since this election will be called on the basis of Liberal corruption, I think that they should have to foot the bill for the election.


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