Skip to comments.Scandal-rocked Grits call in the Mounties (Canadian Libs pay victim card - gut check time for CPC)
Posted on 04/05/2005 8:49:51 AM PDT by GMMAC
Scandal-rocked Grits call in the Mounties
LONDON FREE PRESS
April 5, 2005
BRIAN DALY, CP
MONTREAL -- The federal Liberal party, beset by persistent allegations public money was funnelled into its Quebec wing, said yesterday it has asked the RCMP to investigate the possibility the party was a victim of fraud. The announcement at the sponsorship inquiry by party lawyer Doug Mitchell comes three days after ad man Jean Brault delivered testimony said to be devastating to the minority Liberal government.
"I have been directed by my clients to contact the RCMP to ask that they investigate the possibility that the party itself may have been the target of fraud or other harmful acts by certain individuals," Mitchell told reporters.
"Using inappropriate means to gain undeserved benefit . . . is, if proven to be true, criminal action, plain and simple," Mitchell said.
The details of Brault's testimony, delivered Thursday and Friday, are covered by a publication ban.
But the testimony was said to be so serious that all federal parties were working on election scenarios.
The Liberals went into full defensive mode yesterday, seeking and winning full standing at the inquiry, allowing them to cross-examine Brault and other witnesses.
In granting the status to the Liberals, inquiry judge John Gomery acknowledged the potentially damaging nature of testimony he has heard.
"The reputation of the party risks being affected by what I've heard and maybe by what I will hear," said Gomery.
"I think it would be unfair if the Liberal party didn't have the right to cross-examine witnesses."
The Liberals already had intervener status at the inquiry.
Gomery is probing all aspects of the $250-million sponsorship program, including allegations public money was funnelled into the coffers of the Liberal party's Quebec wing.
The inquiry has heard from former advertising staff who said their bosses, who had grown rich off sponsorship contracts, pressured them to donate money to the Liberals.
Mitchell defended the party yesterday, pointing out it was still in major debt when Prime Minister Paul Martin took over in 2003.
"In particular, the Quebec wing of the party was some $3 million in debt," Mitchell said outside the courtroom.
"This is hardly in keeping with assertions that the party was receiving substantial financial benefit through inappropriate means."
NDP Leader Jack Layton and Conservative Deputy Leader Peter MacKay both have shied away from suggestions their parties could force a quick election over the latest revelations.
In Ottawa, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper stopped short of threatening to bring down the Liberal government, but said voters will have the final say about the testimony.
"The judge, the police and Canadians will be the judge of how involved the Liberal party was (in sponsorship misdeeds)," Harper told the Commons.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, opposed the motion asking for Liberal lawyers to cross-examine witnesses. Party lawyers said in a letter to the inquiry they did not have sufficient time to contest the Liberal motion before Gomery.
Harper told the Commons it took "gall" to paint the Liberals as a victim of the sponsorship scandal.
As Opposition members cried "shame" and "guilty," Martin said the Liberal party consists of thousands of men and women across Canada who are dedicated to their party and country.
"They work day in and day out . . . for the benefit of Canadians," he said.
"Those members of the Liberal party should not have to bear the rumours . . . or the burden of the activities of a very small few who may have colluded against the party.
"We will defend those Liberals. These are Canadians . . . who have given their all for their country."
Before Gomery issued the publication ban, the inquiry heard testimony shedding more light on links between sponsorship cash and the Liberal party's Quebec wing.
Former communications executive Gilles-Andre Gosselin testified Brault strong-armed him into making a $10,000 donation to the Liberals in 1999.
Gosselin said Brault sent the $10,000 cheque on his behalf and against his will.
The inquiry also heard last fall that another ad agency, Media IDA Vision, donated $5,000 to the Quebec wing out of the same account in which it kept sponsorship money.
The RCMP was called in, but found insufficient evidence for criminal prosecution.
Gomery ruled yesterday that Treasury Board will pay for the Liberals' lawyers at the commission.
The judge's decision came shortly before Brault, president of Groupaction Marketing, resumed his testimony.
Groupaction played a major role in the sponsorship program in the 1990s, earning millions of dollars in commissions and other fees.
The publication ban was imposed by Gomery last week to safeguard Brault's right to a fair trial in separate, pending criminal proceedings.
But the gag order, which applies across Canada, did not prevent some testimony leaking into the public domain over the weekend through a U.S.-based web log.
Copyright © The London Free Press
Tory "gut check" time PING!
This is absolutely outrageous! Why do we put up with this?
The question is will the opposition use tbeir parliamentary immunity and as the government about these allegations.
His reply, "everybody knows that".
That's the way things work in the Canadian justice system.
The perp is always a 'victim' of something, an abusive father, bullying, poverty etc. The Liberals were broke, they needed the money so they are victims of poverty.
The Dominion of Canada had land for settlement.
New, improved Liberal Canada has turf for dividing.
|Blogosphere 1, Liberals 0 -- It is the borderlessness of the Internet that has made possible the release of the truth about the Liberals to the Canadian public. Yet we are still in a phase of change where the Liberals are able to harass and intimidate some Canadian blogs, such as NealeNews, into silence. At this point, it was the Americans who came to Canadians aid, by posting the information denied to Canadians on a number of American websites.|
|Beat to Quarters (FR mentioned)|
|-- Captain's Quarters has really stirred up the Canadian blogosphere by carrying details of court testimony on a governmental scandal that is banned from publication in the Great White North. The scandal is about the use of Canadian government money, laundered through a private ad agency, to hire Liberal Party hacks, and is so serious it may catapault the Canadian conservatives into power. This incident marks one more step by the blogosphere into the realm of news generation as opposed to mere commentary.|