Any regrets Paul?
Given the eagerness of the media to lead with "Guité details intervention by Martin", it's safe to say Paul Martin is having some regrets over the one time he's acted decisively during his time as Prime Minister. Because it's become abundantly clear that the sponsorship inquiry has turned into an out of control plague of locusts devouring everything in their path. Let's look at what Chuck Guite said:
Of particular concern, Guite noted, was a $65.7-million Tourism Canada
contract, the largest of all ad deals issued by the government.
Guite said he asked Gagliano for "assurance that the volume of business
that V and B had from the government would be maintained.''
"He (Gagliano) said, `I will look after that.' So ... if he spoke to
Mr. Manley, I think he was at Tourism then ... And I think Mr. Martin was at the
Bank (of Canada) at that time.''
Guite said Vickers also handled a lucrative Canada Savings Bonds
contract for the Bank of Canada, an agency then under Martin's control as
Manley's industry portfolio encompassed tourism-related matters.
Guite said Tremblay called back a week later and told him "it will be
Inquiry counsel Bernard Roy then asked Guite what would be done.
"The interfe- I don't want to use that word,'' Guite replied. "The
minister (Gagliano) had spoken to both ministers and the volume of business
would be maintained.''
So...the "smoking gun" is based on something Pierre Tremblay told Chuck Guite that Alfonso Gagliano told him. Now, third hand stories are sketchy at the best of times but considering that the central figure is dead and that Mr. Guite's credibility is barely on life support, it's very difficult to put a lot of stock in this claim. Plus, it contradicts Guite's claims that there was no political direction last year and marks the third different story he has told about the scandal. Further straining Guite's credibility is this well reasoned explanation from John Manley:
But Manley said he never spoke to Gagliano about assurances for any
contracts, including the Vickers and Benson one.
"Clearly Mr. Guite is speculating and I want to state categorically
that I did not have this conversation with Mr. Gagliano,'' Manley said in a
statement released to The Canadian Press.
"Moreover, it is important to note that I was in the process of
creating the Canadian Tourism Commission at the time which would have complete
autonomy in decisions relating to advertising.
"In other words, it would have been impossible to make the commitment
Mr. Gagliano is said to have been seeking.''
Basically, Chuck Guite has gone on unsubstantiated hearsay to smear the reputations of two very prominent politicians. Now, to be clear, some of what Chuck Guite said in other fields is likely true and it's quite damning. But this just illustrates what the inquiry has turned into. Namely, a soap box for people under trial to air their grievances and get even. Benoit Corbeil who will no doubt add more explosive testimony, has pretty much come out and said the only reason he's talking is because Jean Brault inappropriately implicated him and no one in the Liberal Party came to his defense. So now, this week or next, he'll get even too and make extravagant, unverifiable claims. This entire thing has turned into one giant snowball.
That's the problem with an inquiry like this where you can say anything you want without fear of retribution. How much of what Jean Brault is saying is true? Who knows. Let's just splash it all across the front page and worry about the fact that he's on trial for fraud later. Ditto with Chuck Guite and his 17 different stories.
Maybe the Liberals do deserve to be voted out of office. Maybe Paul Martin was involved. Who knows? But it's becoming more and more difficult to believe the stuff coming out of this inquiry with each passing day.