Corruption inquiry clears Canada's PM
Wednesday 02 November 2005
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.
- 1 Green village to be bulldozed and mined for lignite in Germany's quest for non-nuclear fuel
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Isis could become 'world’s first truly terrorist state' and bomb UK with nuclear and chemical weapons, Theresa May warns
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Room leaderI am currently l...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse requiredI am ...
£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...
£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...