Skip to comments.Jean Chretien's office had control over sponsorship contracts, inquiry told
Posted on 04/08/2005 4:31:33 PM PDT by Pikamax
Jean Chretien's office had control over sponsorship contracts, inquiry told
MONTREAL (CP) - One of the ad firms involved in the federal sponsorship scandal had contracts steered its way after lobbying the office of ex-prime minister Jean Chretien, an inquiry was told Friday.
In yet another major allegation in a scandal that has jolted the country, former Groupaction employee Alain Renaud said he had the ear of Jean Pelletier, Chretien's chief of staff from 1993 to 2001.
Renaud said Chretien's one-time riding organizer, Michel Beliveau, was the point man between himself and Pelletier, a good friend of Chretien, whenever Groupaction sought more sponsorship volume.
"I saw Mr. Beliveau call Mr. Pelletier directly in his (Beliveau's) office," Renaud said under questioning from chief inquiry counsel Bernard Roy.
"I never saw Mr. Beliveau speaking about a specific contract, but he spoke to the PMO regularly."
Roy asked: "How did you get confirmation that your messages were understood and were followed up on?"
Renaud replied: "When the contracts came in quickly."
He credited Beliveau's influence with Pelletier for landing Groupaction Canadian Grand Prix contracts in 1998 worth $1.3 million.
The testimony is among the strongest evidence heard by presiding judge John Gomery that Chretien's inner circle may have had control over sponsorship dollars now tainted by allegations $1.1 million was redirected into Liberal coffers.
Gomery lifted a publication ban Thursday on most of Brault's devastating testimony, in which he said he funnelled at least $1.1 million into the Liberal party's coffers in exchange for sponsorship contracts.
The alleged culture of corruption has shaken the once-powerful Liberal powerhouse now reduced to a minority government threatened with defeat at the hands of an election-ready opposition.
In his own testimony, Brault previously implicated Renaud as a co-conspirator in the alleged scheme, which inflated sponsorship contracts and skimmed money off the top to pump into the deflated coffers of the party's Quebec wing.
The Groupaction president said Renaud earned $1.1 million as a Groupaction lobbyist but that he was also a Liberal operative who brow-beat him for years into making cash donations to the party.
Additional testimony Friday also bostered allegations Chretien confidants helped choose the winners and losers when it came to federal contracts.
Renaud said Groupaction landed the lucrative gun registry contract in the mid-1990s because the firm was close to Jacques Corriveau, a graphic designer and friend of the former prime minister.
Asked how he knew Corriveau's influence was the winning formula, Renaud said he was told as much by ad executive Jean Lafleur, whose firm was part of the consortium that won the contract along with Groupaction.
"When Mr. Lafleur found out Mr. Corriveau was there he told me 'we'll get the job for sure,' " said Renaud.
Chretien has told the inquiry he left it to officials to deal with sponsorship funding and never knew Chuck Guite, the bureaucrat who ran the program, or most of the ad executives who won contracts under it.
He was also adamant that Pelletier never briefed him on specific projects.
Also on Friday, Renaud said Brault donated $30,000 to Chretien's victorious 1993 campaign in the hopes of landing future federal contracts.
The year after the Liberals swept to power, Renaud said Brault showed him a $30,000 cheque payable to Michel Fournier, who served as Chretien's chief of staff when he was Opposition leader.
It was unclear whether Fournier was still working for Chretien when the cheque was written in 1993.
Brault made the donation through Fournier in the hopes of landing contracts, Renaud said of his November 1994 meeting with Brault.
"(Brault) said he invested a fair sum in the Liberal campaign and he would surely get federal government contracts," Renaud said.
"Were these cheques for the campaign of the Liberal party or Mr. Chretien's campaign?" Roy asked.
Renaud replied: "Mr. Chretien's campaign."
Brault, whose testimony alleged a wide-ranging cash-for-favours conspiracy, did not mention any $30,000 cheque during his six days on the witness stand before Justice John Gomery.
Groupaction eventually landed sponsorship contracts worth $60 million, including $17 million in commissions and other fees that Brault often pocketed without performing any work.
Testimony at the inquiry is scheduled to wrap up by early May, and Gomery is to table his final report at the end of the year.
Brault and Guite are to be tried together in June on fraud charges in the scandal.
It is amazing to me that Chretien's connection to Saddam's oil was not proclaimed loudly up here.
On second thought, it would have been amazing if it had been.