Corruption inquiry clears Canada's PM

There was no evidence that Mr Chretien knew about kickbacks organised by a Quebec businessmen involved in his programme to promote national unity in the French-speaking province, Justice John Gomery concluded.

But he must bear political responsibility for the programme which he created. It allowed senior members of his Liberal Party to funnel millions of dollars into their Quebec coffers, Mr Gomery said.

"The public trust ... was subverted and betrayed, and Canadians were outraged, not only because public funds were wasted and misappropriated, but also because no one was held responsible for his misconduct," Mr Gomery said.

The scandal paralysed parliament for months earlier this year. Mr Martin survived a confidence motion by a single vote in May, after he pledged to dissolve the House of Commons and hold new elections after the final Gomery report was released. The second and final report, with recommendations, is due to be released in February.

Mr Martin was "exonerated from any blame for carelessness or misconduct" in the report. The roots of the scandal go back 10 years when a federal advertising programme was set up to restore national unity after Quebec almost won its independence.

The Liberal government's response was to earmark C$100m (£48m) to soothe the angry separatist emotions that flared throughout the country. The campaign included hoisting the national red-and-white maple leaf flag throughout Quebec, among other things.

There was only one problem: the companies that received the money did little or no work. It was the largest cash disappearing act the country had ever seen and it occurred on Jean Chretien's watch.

The Liberal Party has had a virtually hegemonic rule over the country since 1993, but news that millions of dollars had been diverted united opposition parties normally at war and cost the Liberal Party its majority rule. And when the auditor general Sheila Fraser joined the chorus of outrage, Mr Martin called in Mr Gomery to hold an inquiry.

The confessional floodgates burst. In March, Jean Brault from the advertising firm Groupaction Marketing said he was coerced to make back-door donations in exchange for government contracts. He said he paid C$1.2m to Liberal supporters, who essentially did no work.

When the judge accepted Mr Brault's evidence as "credible", the Conservative Party and Bloc Quebecois joined forces to try to topple the government.

Mr Gomery called the scandal a "story of greed, venality and misconduct".

Mr Gomery said that Mr Chretien had ignored warnings and "must share the blame for the mismanagement that ensued".

Mr Chretien has in turn called into question Mr Gomery's credibility.

Mr Martin became involved in the scandal when, as finance minister, he pumped an extra $50m a year into the national unity reserve. but Mr Gomery concluded that Mr Martin was not responsible for keeping tabs on how funds were spent.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn