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The secret caller who exposed Adscam (for once 'investigative reporting' served the public good)
The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada) ^ | Saturday, October 21, 2006 | DANIEL LEBLANC

Posted on 10/21/2006 10:36:30 AM PDT by GMMAC

The secret caller who exposed Adscam
DANIEL LEBLANC reveals how an anonymous tipster
helped him break the federal sponsorship scandal

Toronto Globe and Mail
Saturday, October 21, 2006

OTTAWA -- The phone call came on June 1, 2000. The woman had a quiet voice, and she wanted our conversation, and her identity, to remain a secret. She had read my recent story on the sponsorship program in The Globe and Mail, and urged me to dig further.

The call couldn't have come at a more opportune time. I had been interested in Ottawa's aggressive advertising campaign in Quebec for a few years, and had written four stories on the subject.

In particular, on the day before my conversation with this woman, I had used documents obtained under the Access to Information Act to show that three-quarters of the funding was heading into Quebec. The situation was absurd: The Calgary Stampede had received nothing from the pot of federal funds destined for cultural and sporting events, while the Festival Western de Saint-Tite, in Quebec, had obtained $40,000.

Western MPs were furious. "We didn't need this story, I can assure you," said John Harvard, then a Liberal MP from Winnipeg.

I was happy to have shone a bit of light on the $40-million-a-year sponsorship program. Until then, there had been much secrecy surrounding the initiative, which was created in 1996 after the second referendum on Quebec sovereignty, narrowly won by federalist forces. There was no specific application form for groups interested in receiving funding, no official website and not much knowledge about it outside Quebec.

After those four articles, however, I had no other avenues to follow, no leads to chase. In fact, I had no specific intention of pursuing the matter further -- until that phone call.

I became aware of the Chrétien government's obsession with visibility as an aide to a Liberal MP in 1995. It was my first job out of university, and I noticed that federal officials thought they were losing the advertising war with the separatist Parti Québécois, and were looking for ways to catch up.

For a variety of reasons, I left the world of politics and headed to journalism school. After a stint as a freelancer and an intern, I got a job at The Globe and Mail's parliamentary bureau in 1998.

Trolling for stories on slow days, I started digging for the cost of Ottawa's visibility campaign, which was more and more obvious to the naked eye in Quebec. Flags were popping up everywhere, the referendum-obsessed federal government plainly bracing for a rematch.

I found out that Ottawa was spending $3-million to put up brightly lit "Canada" signs on federal buildings across the country. And on Dec. 31, 1999 -- the eve of Y2K -- I wrote that the federal government had paid $324,000 to rent a hot-air balloon in the shape of an RCMP officer on a horse. It was a lot of money, given the force's money woes.

My interest in the sponsorship program was slowly growing. During a party at the time, a well-informed former colleague clued me in to the scope of the program in Quebec, noting the rapid influx of federal cash. In addition, he explained how the initiative had been run by a bureaucrat unlike any other: Joseph-Charles Guité.

"Chuck," as everyone called the cowboy-hat-wearing advertising czar, was a bit like the sponsorship program itself: in your face and not so subtle. As my former colleague said, Mr. Guité had forged tight links with a number of senior Liberal officials and the owners of a few plugged-in advertising firms.

He also gave me an unconfirmed tip: Mr. Guité had recently retired, but before leaving the government, he had allegedly offered a few sweet contracts to advertising agencies.

In early January, 2000, I wrote another request under the Access to Information Act, asking the Department of Public Works to release ". . . all records detailing the sponsorship budget."

Unbeknownst to me, the request caused a commotion within Public Works. An official in the office of then-minister Alfonso Gagliano tried to block the release of the complete list of $144-million in sponsorship funding since 1996. Instead, a second list of sponsorship projects worth only $82-million was put together to send to me. Some of the projects deleted from the full list included contracts later proved fraudulent in court.

Fortunately, the bureaucrat in charge of the access-to-information branch at Public Works, Anita Lloyd, refused to sign off on the second list. "I thought it wasn't legal, and I thought it wasn't ethical," she said at the Gomery inquiry about the attempt to feed an incomplete list to The Globe and Mail.

With that stance, Ms. Lloyd allowed me and a colleague, Campbell Clark, to get a look at the entire program and eventually dig into specific projects.

But when I first received the full document in May, 2000, my initial thought was that it looked like a mishmash of numbers and names. I had hoped to prove that Mr. Guité had offered a few inflated contracts to advertising firms before his retirement, but I couldn't spot anything coming close to that.

Then I had a flash. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed that in the first column on the left-hand side of the database, the document listed the province in which the sponsored events took place. While regions such as Ontario, the Atlantic and the West each took one or two pages, the list of Quebec events went on and on, page after page.

I had my story, which ran in the paper on May 31 of that year.

The following day, I received my first phone call from the anonymous reader, who said there was a lot more to know about the sponsorship program.

She said a number of advertising firms were overcharging the federal government for their role in the program, and kicking back funds to the Liberal Party of Canada. In that call, she stated so many facts, names and numbers that I assumed I wasn't dealing with a bluffer.

I needed a way to stay in touch with her. She obviously didn't want to give me her name or phone number, so we settled on e-mail. Later that day, she called back with an address she had just created. Using a nickname that roughly translates as "my dear" or "honey," she called herself MaChouette.

That became the code name I used to refer to this secret source in conversations with Mr. Clark. Over time, MaChouette's tips led to the unearthing of Groupaction Marketing Inc.'s so-called "missing report," which got Auditor-General Sheila Fraser and the RCMP to investigate sponsorship contracts.

MaChouette also alerted me to the presence in the sponsorship program of Jacques Corriveau, a Liberal organizer and friend of then-prime minister Jean Chrétien. Mr. Corriveau was eventually named by the Gomery inquiry as "the central figure in an elaborate kickback scheme by which he enriched himself personally and provided funds and benefits to the [Liberal Party]."

MaChouette and I exchanged frequent e-mails from 2000 to 2002. Through it all, I had no idea who she was, where she worked or how she obtained her information. I never quoted her or revealed her existence in dozens of articles I wrote on the subject.

Eventually, though, I did deduce who she was, and met with her. Today, I dare say her first phone call was instrumental in getting the ball rolling on what became the biggest political scandal in modern Canadian history.

Daniel Leblanc is a parliamentary correspondent at The Globe and Mail. His reporting helped The Globe win the 2004 Michener Award for public-service journalism. This article is adapted from his French-language book, Nom de Code: MaChouette, to be released next week.

TOPICS: Canada; Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: adscam; gomery; liberals; quebec
While I know this is an article without much mass appeal, I've largely posted it as a thank you to American FRiends like 'backhoe' who faithfully tracked the Adscam story and to whom this seemingly almost final piece of the puzzle wouldn't be otherwise available.

My guess is the Liberal Globe is publishing it at this time both as self-promotion & because it favors the Martinite wing & the article plainly serves to remind people of the crimes of the Chretienista wing of the Liberal Party.

Also, with most of the hardcore Chretien camp backing Bob Rae in the Liberal leadership contest, perhaps the Globe sees re-hashing Adscam as somehow beneficial to the Martinites' de facto horse in the race Michael Ignatieff?

1 posted on 10/21/2006 10:36:32 AM PDT by GMMAC
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To: backhoe; fanfan; Pikamax; Former Proud Canadian; Great Dane; Alberta's Child; headsonpikes; Ryle; ..

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

2 posted on 10/21/2006 10:38:31 AM PDT by GMMAC (Discover Canada governed by Conservatives:
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I thought the article quite interesting as an example of the work of a true investigative reporter and how valuable their work can be.

3 posted on 10/21/2006 11:02:48 AM PDT by Bahbah (Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev, we are praying for you)
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To: Allan


4 posted on 10/21/2006 11:05:31 AM PDT by Allan (*-O)):~{>)
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To: Bahbah
Thank you.
Gotta work on getting more destructive liberal infighting happening Stateside as it does Conservatives nothing but good up here - LOL!

... although I'm guessing long before November 2008 the more sly among the 'Rats are going to be sadly regretting the day they ever gave Howard Dean such a high profile soap box.
5 posted on 10/21/2006 11:13:25 AM PDT by GMMAC (Discover Canada governed by Conservatives:
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While I know this is an article without much mass appeal, I've largely posted it as a thank you to American FRiends like 'backhoe' who faithfully tracked the Adscam story and to whom this seemingly almost final piece of the puzzle wouldn't be otherwise available.

Well, Good Golly! And thank you kindly- crosslinking here:

-ADSCAM -- Canada's Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open--

6 posted on 10/21/2006 11:52:53 AM PDT by backhoe (-30-)
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To: backhoe
You're welcome FRiend - here's another for your collection:

Chrétien friend bragged about 'a little scheme'
Gomery witness told ministers' aides sponsorship helped Liberals, book reveals

Toronto Globe and Mail
Saturday, October 21, 2006

MONTREAL -- Three years before the political kickback arrangement behind the sponsorship scandal would become public at the Gomery inquiry, a friend of Jean Chrétien was bragging to aides of two cabinet ministers that the federal program was being used to assist the Liberals in Quebec, a new book reveals.

The Chrétien friend, the controversial graphic designer Jacques Corriveau, is a pivotal figure in the scandal. He denied at the Gomery inquiry last year that he sought disguised donations for the Liberal Party from suppliers to the sponsorship program.

However, according to a book to be released next week by Globe and Mail political reporter Daniel Leblanc, Mr. Corriveau met aides for Don Boudria and Paul Cauchon and said he had "a little scheme" that made the program help the party.

Titled Nom de code: MaChouette and published by Quebecor Media's Libre Expression, the book also says:

A controversial figure in the scandal, the late Liberal fundraiser Giuseppe (Joseph) Morselli, was being wiretapped by police for an unrelated investigation.

The police heard Mr. Morselli, a friend of then public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, accepting an offer of $100,000 from ad executive Jean Brault to intervene in the attribution of a federal contract. "It was very explicit," one source says in the book.

This took place in 2001, a year before the RCMP was called to look at the sponsorship file.

The RCMP used a paid informant to investigate Mr. Brault, rewarding their source with thousands of dollars in cash.

A provincial police probe into the dealings of another key player in the scandal, ad executive Jean Lafleur, was referred this year to a Crown attorney, meaning that investigators deemed that some criminal charges could be filed.

During the sponsorship era, the well-connected Mr. Lafleur clinched more than $65-million in federal contracts and led a lavish lifestyle, wining, dining and entertaining high-ranking Liberals.

Designed to bolster the visibility of the federal government in Quebec after the 1995 referendum, the sponsorship program funnelled millions of dollars in contracts to a handful of Liberal-friendly advertising and media firms.

According to the new book, Mr. Corriveau met in 2002 with officials working for Mr. Boudria, then minister of public works, and Mr. Cauchon, then minister for Quebec.

"He told me that the program had helped the party. He didn't talk about cash in envelopes but he spoke about a little scheme," Alain Pilon, who was Mr. Boudria's chief of staff, is quoted as saying.

"Jacques Corriveau made a similar confession at Martin Cauchon's office and to other Liberals," the book adds.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Boudria said he was never told about Mr. Corriveau's visit. Mr. Cauchon could not be reached for comment.

The revelation would corroborate the testimony at the Gomery inquiry of Daniel Dezainde, a former director-general of the Liberal Party's Quebec wing.

Mr. Dezainde, who took over the role in May of 2001, testified that Mr. Corriveau told him over lunch that he set up a system where he got kickbacks for the party from agencies that benefited from the sponsorship program.

Mr. Leblanc's book also mentions another well-connected businessman, Mr. Morselli. He died of heart problems last March, cutting short a police investigation into his activities, the book says.

"Morselli's death disappointed a lot of people at the RCMP," one anonymous source says in the book.

Mr. Morselli was a cagey, enigmatic man who was alleged at the Gomery inquiry to have received envelopes of cash from Mr. Brault to secure federal contracts.

Mr. Brault eventually pleaded guilty in Quebec Superior Court to five counts of fraud involving federal contracts awarded to his firm, Groupaction Marketing Inc.

The book says that, in addition to former Groupaction vice-president Jean Lambert, police investigation relied on a paid informant, a former Groupaction employee whose name has never been disclosed.

source - url may or may not work
7 posted on 10/21/2006 12:51:52 PM PDT by GMMAC (Discover Canada governed by Conservatives:
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Thank you- I will add that as well.

8 posted on 10/21/2006 12:58:28 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe; GMMAC
It's nice to see that others appreciate your detective skills and perseverance.
9 posted on 10/21/2006 1:56:08 PM PDT by B4Ranch (Illegal immigration Control and US Border Security - The jobs George W. Bush refuses to do.)
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To: B4Ranch
I appreciate the encouraging words, B4Ranch... as my Free Dominion tagline goes,

( Just an Old Keyboard Cowboy, etc., etc...)

10 posted on 10/21/2006 2:00:44 PM PDT by backhoe (-30-)
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