Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Judgment Day

7:45 am: I believe this is likely the earliest I've ever posted. But it's a big day and my Liberal friends rejected my idea to throw a "Gomery Party" today. It would have been great! Charades with your favourite Gomery characters, a game of Adscam Clue (Brault...at Restaurant Frank...with the brown envelope), and free golf balls in the goodie bags for everyone who attended. So, instead, I'll be blogging throughout the day.

7:49 am: The Globe & Mail has a sneak peak in today's paper - shocking! Who could have seen this coming? Given that PMPM is the only person to have an advance copy of the report, it's safe to assume this leak came from him. And - gasp! The leak makes it sound like Paul got off scott free! And it's all Chretien's fault! Well, I guess we know what the talking points will be today.

7:58 am: The anticipation is growing (since no one in the PMO leaked me the report last night). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get named in the report!

8:18 am: We've just obtained this e-mail, leaked to us by the Board:




Cher Claude,

Pfffewffff!

Paul

8:23 am: Here's the report. It's a long one. Remember, if you want to buy that special someone the perfect Christmas gift, it's only 49.95$.

You can find major findings here.

8:29 am: The Blame Game. Here are the relevant paragraphs:



"Mr. Pelletier failed to take the most elementary precautions against mismanagement and Mr. Chretien was responsible for him," the commission chairman wrote.

However, Gomery said there was no evidence that either man was directly involved in Corriveau's "wrongdoing," entitling them "to be exonerated from blame for Mr. Corriveau's misconduct."




Also implicated is former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, "who chose to perpetuate the irregular manner of directing the sponsorship program."




As a result, Martin "is entitled, like other ministers in the Quebec caucus, to be exonerated from any blame for carelessness or misconduct."




The chief channeller of those payments was Guite, who seemed to be operating with little or no supervision from his deputy minister at Public Works and Government Services Canada, Ranald Quail.




"The commission accepts all of Mr. Brault's testimony as credible," Gomery wrote.

8:47 am: Chretien's lawyer, David Scott, has said he'll give Chretien a recommendation to take strong action in response to this report, hinting at legal action. This would definitely keep the story alive well into the next election.

8:49 am: Here's your morning smile. Courtesy of Scott Reid: "No one in the Prime Minister's Office leaked the report to the media last night."

9:06 am: Jack's at the podium! Time for a lecture on the environment and private health care.

9:14 am: Jack sounds annoyed but there's no way he agrees to bring down the government this week. And, no surprise, we get a ton of questions on private health care. "We're here to make Parliament work", "we're listening to Canadians", "we care about making a difference", "let's focus on saving puppies and orphans"...

9:40 am: Harper's at the podium. Nothing we haven't heard from him before. Some people will say he sounds too harsh and angry but, really, in this situation, I can't see any other way for him to sound. He's trying to frame the election as "voters holding the Liberal Party politically accountable".

9:43 am: I'll be taking a break from the updates so that I don't get fired, but I'll be back this afternoon with more reaction from the politicians, news people, and bloggers. Before I break, let me leave you with this thought: If Scott Reid claims the PMO did not leak the report to the press who did? It sounds to me like Scott Reid just implied that Judge Gomery leaked his own report, or a renegade worker at the printing press did (waiting until the report was in the hands of the PM, before he did so).

10:28 am: OK, I lied (call an inquiry), one quick update. I have gotten twelve e-mails from the Liberal Party this morning with various talking points on this report. Eek!

12:45 pm: Alfsonso Gagliano is on the list of ten people who are being banned from the Liberal Party. Interesting...

Oh, and I'm now up to 12 e-mails from the Liberal Party on their response strategy.

2:45 pm: Chretien is about to speak now and one imagines this will be the most interesting press conference of the day. Everybody knew how Martin, Harper, Layton and co. were going to react. I'm not sure anyone can say for certain what Chretien will say. Stay tuned.

3:11 pm: Chretien reminds people that he was the one who started to crack down on this scandal, calling in the AG and RCMP. He then says Gomery was wrong, wrong, wrong and wonders why the Judge would trust certain parts of Guite's testimony when, let's be honest, Chuck Guite is about as credible as Myriam Bedard. And...LAWSUIT!!! That should be interesting.

3:19 pm: "I haven't taken questions in a while so I'm kind of excited to do it again" - here we go!

When asked about the party banning people for life, Chretien gets off the line of the day: "Well, I never knew the party had that power. If I'd known I had that power...well...I might have used it on several occasions. For example, when Monsieur Lapierre left the party to found the Bloc Quebecois, I would have banned him for life." ZING!

3:29 pm: Chretien defends his record ferociously - on Iraq, on campaign finance (and gets a jab at Steve LeDrew in), on Kyoto. "One thing about me is I was always willing to make a decision"...gosh, I wonder where that one is directed?

Chretien is definitely coming across extremely forceful. I suspect a lot of people will be put off, but I'm loving this on sheer entertainment alone.

The reporters are trying to goat him into taking shots at Paul but, by and large, he's resisting. He agrees that Martin knew nothing and shouldn't have known anything.

A lot of shots at Bernard Roy on the bias angle...not surprisingly.

Paul Wells gets the hardest hitting question in - I didn't catch all of it, but I'll be curious to see his opinion on the response he got.

3:47 pm: Apparently Alfonso Gagliano is considering running as an independent in the next election. That would be fun, if nothing else.

4:03 pm: You can follow other bloggers' take on Gomery here.

6:51 pm: OK, here's the full text of Chretien's smack-down on Lapierre:


Reporter: "Today it was announced that some people would be banned from the Liberal party for life. What do you think of banishing someone from a party for life?"

Jean Chretien: "There are various statutes in various provinces. I never thought I had that power. If I'd had it, well...(laughter).
I may have used it on many occasions, in particular, regarding Mr. Lapierre when he founded or helped found the Bloc Quebecois. I would have banished him for life. I'm not sure he's going to be a federalist if things go badly here. So I would have given him his walking papers in person."


10:00 pm: Time for the National - this should give everyone a good idea of what the media reaction will look like in the papers tomorrow. And that doesn't bode well for the Liberals. Martin's "exoneration" is glossed over and the report is repeatedly called "a scathing report with scathing consequences which are downright scathing".

10:17 pm: Paul Hunter says the NDP won't bring down the government right away, but Layton is leaving the door open to force an election in late November or December. I do think the opposition parties will try and force a vote before Martin can bring in a budget since it will be full of goodies. Also, the Liberals going down on a harshly worded resolution would help frame the election question.

41 Comments:

  • Who's Gomery?

    Hope you had a lot of coffee this morning. That's pretty early for you folk out there.

    TB

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 10:20 AM  

  • Martin got off "scott free" as one might expect given he had nothing to do with anything during his time as finance minister.

    On the other hand, Chretien gets the brunt of the blame. With the rouges gallery of Mulroney flacks who authored the report and contributed to it, this is hardly surprising. In fact, the only surprise is that they were not implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26 AM  

  • It doesn't sound as harsh towards Chretien as some people are making it sound. Basically it says he takes responsibility from his role as PM, but that he wasn't involed and didn't know what was going on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 AM  

  • How the hell can Martin get off scott free? He was Minister of Finance and vice-Prez of the Treasury Board!


    -Michael W.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:09 AM  

  • Martin is a pathologocal liar:

    http://andrewcoyne.com/2005/04/lunch-with-claude.php

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20050418/martin_boulay_050418?s_name=&no_ads=

    And if this isn't proof enough, here's more on an unrelated topic:

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20050927/questionperiod_RCMPfamilies_20050927/20050927?hub=TopStories

    The man makes my skin crawl....I'm going to take a shower now.

    Tulip

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:09 PM  

  • When the whole Gomery mess started I told everyone it would be a charade unless someone goes to jail or pays up. The Hutton report involving Blair and the BBC was the same thing - old boys network where old boys protect old boys.

    I am a Liberal but:

    - If Chretien the PM did not know personally what was going on he would be incompetent. If I started a project and allocated funding for it I would like to see its progress and results. Chretein therefore must have had a low standard for progress.
    - If Martin is finance minister and does not know about how a flagship project in his province (and the problem province) is going on he also must be super incompetent.

    Finally, if any one of them knew about the mismanagement and did not inform the auditor then they are worse than incompetent, they have failed the trust of the people.

    -CNR

    By Blogger Canadian News Reader, at 12:22 PM  

  • Wow, a lot of CG readers seem don't seem to be buying PM's exoneration. I guess they will need to read the full report, lol.

    As an NDP supporter I was sorry to see Jack not threaten a Christmas election with force! It would have given him better footing for negotiation on ethics/healthcare.

    By Blogger Manatee, at 2:13 PM  

  • Ya, that's right, the PMO didn't leak it, just like "The Honourable" Ujjal Dosanjh didn't try and buy votes a few months back. You can't prove anything here. We are the Liberals!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 PM  

  • The Globe story isn't a leak. It's fairly transparently a summary of Gomery witnesses who received warning letters, juxtaposed against the fact Martin didn't. It could have been written last week, and in assorted versions it was, but it was more interesting to run it this morning.

    By Anonymous Paul Wells, at 2:34 PM  

  • One day, sometime, somewhere a member of the CPC is going to wake up in the morning and drool to himself, "If we were really a political party, we would have policy."

    Until then all the CPC looks like is members of Hare Krishna in blue suits.

    Don

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 PM  

  • QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    Better to look like a Hare Krishna than a member of Jim Jones' cult.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 3:50 PM  

  • Don,

    Some of us are awake to that fact. That is why we are no longer members of the CPC ;oP

    Matt

    By Anonymous Matt, at 5:48 PM  

  • We're a little disappointed that Beliveau only stayed over at 24 Sussex for 1 night. It could have been sausy.

    By Blogger daveberta, at 5:57 PM  

  • I just don't believe that Team Martin had no idea about the scandal.

    After the 1997 election, the former PM and his team appeared to lose interest in the party and its operations. This left the field open for Team Martin and his apparatchiki--a deep and sophisticated political operation.

    Realistically, by 2000 Team Martin ran every aspect of the Liberal Party with the exception of the Parliamentary caucus. And much of that caucus would have prefered a Martin leadership.

    If they didn't know, they should have or were wilfully blind. Neither makes the new guy look good.

    By Anonymous That eastern bastard is an Albertan's granddaughter, at 6:41 PM  

  • Manatee....Don't you think Jack should make a clear stand? After all, it was his support that made a summer election a no go. As far as I am concerned, I think he either needs to get on the train or get off. It's looking like he is getting off now, I just hope it stays that way, Martin might have robbed the country, but Jack drove the getaway car....lol

    By Blogger DazzlinDino, at 9:05 PM  

  • Before any of this stuff happened, I still recall my prof talking to us about how Finance, regardless who's finance minister has nothing to do with it. Its the TReasury Board, that directs and gives the money, not finance, in Ontario we call it the management board. Guys I really believe that Martin knew nothing about it, or very very little. Because I am sure if he had known it was like this he wouldn't have called an inquiry, but I am 100% that he had nothing to do with it because he is not that dumb

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:23 PM  

  • IMHO. The liberal party in Quebec has been infiltrated by the Quebec separatists posing as members of the liberal party over the past 20 years , or ever since they lost the 1980 referendum.

    What better way to achieve separatism than to cripple the only competitive political party in the province, than to create a scheme to load the liberal party in Quebec with a bunch of quiet separatists who act like liberals and then skillfully create a bribary and corruption scheme to shame the libreal party to its core. Traitors in politics you say, can't be, HAH let me just say Lucien Bouchard.

    Now the first day following the release of the report, we have the leader of the BLOC saying they will hold a referendum in the province following their win in the coming election.

    Personally I think in Canada and especially in Quebec thats we'll now watch the next steps, the separation of Quebec.

    I think that's it, it is pretty much a done deal.

    What centralized political party do you see in Canada that is competitive in Quebec.

    I'm shamed with the weakness of our other parties and their lack of a belief enough in Canada to create a political party that emcompasses the whole country.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 PM  

  • Yeah, but Martin was Vice President of the Treasury Board...

    I doubt Paul knew much about the program - maybe rumours, but nothing substantial. I tend to think neither him nor Chretien were aware of what was going on.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:18 PM  

  • So what you're saying then CG is that they were both incompetent.

    By Blogger Ed, at 12:39 AM  

  • Grit, it may make sense however that taking the way Chretien and Martin have always felt about each other, that Jean may have known and just not trusted Paul with the info, this scenario makes more sense to me, and is somewhat supported by some of the evidence anyway...

    By Blogger DazzlinDino, at 1:59 AM  

  • I don't know why Quebec people are paying so much attention to Gomery. Boo-hoo, we don't like the fact that some Quebecers got rich by scamming the government, so we are going to vote for the separatist party! What sort of bullheaded logic is that.

    Maybe we should just call their bluff. Dare them to have the referendum and have it very clear - yes means separate and Canada will not help the country Quebec at all. No - you remain in Canada and any area that votes no will get federal development.

    There I go, trying to bribe them again. I think Quebec does not want to separate, its all a ruse and bluff to just get more federal attention.

    And what good did the BQ party do for Quebec in recent times other than bitch and moan?

    By Blogger mezba, at 9:22 AM  

  • A Political science prof on CBC radio put it into context. A hundred million over so spread over 7 years is not a lot of money in the greater scheme of things. As Minster finiance, Martin would had more pressings things to concern himself with. Now, I know some Conservative supporters do not trust anyone who has done graduate work, but the said professor was very critical of the Liberals indeed. His main concern was that the "reforms" the Liberals are bringing in could hamstrung the public service. In other words, he feels that in order to prove to the public that such a scandal will not happen again the Liberals are throwning out the baby with the bath water.

    By Anonymous koby, at 3:43 PM  

  • "A hundred million over so spread over 7 years is not a lot of money in the greater scheme of things...."

    Sorry, koby, but that is a load of crap. To the Government of Canda, you are right - that's not a lot of money - they run a budget of $160 Bn annually. To the Liberal Party, it is a huge amount of money. Let's put it in context: From 2001 through 2004 (inclusive) the LPC recorded donations (per the Elections Canada database) of roughly $54M, or an average of just over $13M each year. Excluding 2004, when the rules changed, they averaged about $16M - which may have been pushed up a bit by donor trying to get contributions in the door in 2003; contributions in 2003 were almost double those in 2001. In the last election they garnered 4.9M votes, which will entitle them to $8.6M in federal funding under the new rules.

    I think it is fair to assume that to a national federal party, anything in the way of $10M annually is a pretty big deal. Your "not very much in the scheme of things" $100M over seven years averages just over $14M annually - more than enough to turn heads at the LPC. Consider that it was largely concentrated in Quebec, and the proportional impact is even greater.

    Let's assume that I steal money from Bombardier: $1M every year - which really isn't much to them. Assume further that a million bucks is a meaningful amount of money to me (it is!). It is hardly convincing to argue that I am not corrupt, simply because Bombardier won't even notice the loss.

    You are right that Martin wouldn't have noticed the cash drain as Finance Minister. Whether he shouldn't have noticed the government's response to the largest single threat to the nation, which took place largely in the city that included his riding, in the province where he was the senior minister, and was perpetrated by the senior people in the party he was in the process of taking over... Well, that's another question, of course.

    By Blogger deaner, at 4:47 PM  

  • Are you saying that Martin should have noticed that at least 1.14 million dollars comming into the party over the span of 7 years? This is a better argument.

    That said, one thing that has not been mentioned is that those involved might have pocketed a good portion of the apparently 7 million, all in cash, that is left unaccounted for and thus would be A) rather closed lipped about it and B) the impact on the party coffers would not be nearly as great.

    By Anonymous koby, at 5:51 PM  

  • The arguement that martin should have noticed the money coming in is not nearly as persuasive as saying that for a man who was taking over practically every riding association in the country it is not believeable that he didn't know more. If he personally was in the dark about what was going on what does say about all the people who were organizing for him. many of whom are now running the country.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:07 PM  

  • koby - I think "anonymous" got more of the point of the argument. The amount of money diverted to the use of the Liberal Party was enough to turn heads and start tongues waging in any organization. The money actually delivered to the party may have been much smaller (from this, we get the $1.14M 'repayment' by Paulie)- but that doesn't include the guys on staff at advertising agencies, conveniently ready to "volunteer" time to the LPC, or the 'special deals' available to the LPC for creative work or media buying.

    I find it inconcievable that Martin didn't see it happening, and even moreso that if he didn't see it that he didn't hear about it; I can believe that he deliberately avoided learning about or investigating this conduct to maintain 'plausible deniability' - but that's pretty thin gruel to now trumpet his "exoneration." In any event, my concern is not so much with PMPM as with the culture of the Liberal Party of Canada. This sort of behaviour indicates a very deep rot in the Party - we let it continue (and maintain them in power) at our peril.

    By Blogger deaner, at 12:39 PM  

  • just to echo the most recent 'anonymous' comment, and tell koby more about why he's wrong, either Martin:
    a. knew about cash-based party kickbacks from recipients of goernment contracts (see Kinsella on Earnscliffe in addition to Gomery) either at the ministerial or riding level; or
    b. he didn't know, and his aides/organisers in the ministry/ridings did.

    Either way, Martin ought to shoulder some accountability, even if Gomery found he doesn't attract direct ministerial responsibility.

    And regardless, he was at the core of a party which directed a 9-figure criminal fraud from within the government.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:20 PM  

  • Just finished reading Chapter XVI, "Assigning Responsibility". A memorable read.

    After all, who could have guessed that after all of the testimony regarding the overbilling, the refusal to follow contracting rules, the allowing (and indeed asking) advertising agencies to provide fraudulent invoices, etc., Mr. Chuck Guite would not have been assigned any of the responsibility?

    Frankly, its amazing. Justice Gomery is amazing to be the first person in Canada to have come to the conclusion that under no circumstances can you trust people below you to be honest and competent (p. 426 of report).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:31 PM  

  • " In any event, my concern is not so much with PMPM as with the culture of the Liberal Party of Canada."

    This "culture" is exactly the same as what goes on every day in every corporation in this country. Looking the other way when you suspect something untoward or illegal is going on is the accepted corporate standard today, especially when the guilty ones are higher ups in the food chain. Speak up when you see these things and your reward is more likely to be fired than anything else. The Libs are just doing a good job at representing corporate culture.

    Martin likely suspected, but didn't investigate. Typical corporate morals, perhaps, but no other group of politicians would have done anyting different under the circumstances.

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