Thursday, April 07, 2005

Canadian Adscam Publication Ban Partially Ended

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters has the story here:

Publication Ban Lifted

"Justice John Gomery has lifted the publication ban on Jean Brault's testimony, allowing the Canadian media to finally report the testimony to the Canadian public. As CTV demonstrates in its data-dump format, the facts as presented by CQ's source stand up very well against the revelations possible now that the media has been unleashed:

Brault claims in his testimony that he systematically kicked back huge amounts of taxpayer money to the federal Liberal party, a deception he claims involved senior Liberal organizers and people close to former prime minister Jean Chretien.

His testimony detailed secret meetings, phoney paper trails, envelopes stuffed with cash and bogus billings.

* He said there were phoney employees on the payroll at the ad firm Groupaction.
* Brault said there was $1 million in kickbacks to the Liberal Party of Canada.
* His reward, he claims, was $172 million in government business for his firm.

It was always the same story, he told the commission. The Liberal Party needs money. If you want the business, you have to pay.

Brault says most of the kickbacks were cash; that's the way his Liberal handlers wanted it. Simply, he said, so it couldn't be traced.

On one occasion, Brault says he handed $25,000 in cash to Joseph Morselli, a top organizer for former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano.

Brault wanted the bidding for some ad contracts with the justice department delayed. He says Morselli told him the delay would cost $100,000.

The first payment was $25,000, dropped off at a fundraiser for Gagliano, at a restaurant in Montreal's east end.

Brault claims he also put at least five Liberal party workers on Groupaction's payroll. They were paid with sponsorship money to do work for the party.

Other Liberals allegedly got cheques too, disguised as consulting fees, for doing nothing. One of them was Jean Chretien's brother, Gaby.

Brault claims Chretien handed $4,000 to a Liberal candidate.

Brault says Liberal fundraiser Alain Renaud got $63,000, also for doing nothing.

It was clearly, Brault says, a donation to the Liberal Party.

And then, there's Jacques Corriveau, a confidant of former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Brault paid Corriveau's firm nearly $500,000, for no work at all.

He says Corriveau wanted the money for the Liberal party.

Under cross examination, a lawyer for the Liberals suggested Brault didn't really know if some of his payments ended up in Liberal coffers. Brault agreed with that, saying 'You're right."

Well, perhaps the attorney representing the Liberals on the cross-examination felt he scored a point. However, when political appointees demand cash from a government contractor, either the money is for themselves or their party -- and either way, it's corruption.

Justice Gomery only partially lifted the ban, leaving some question whether the ban would continue for Chuck Guité and Paul Coffin. If it does and my source can still produce information on the ongoing testimony, I will continue to publish it here. My hope will be that Justice Gomery realizes that publication bans do nothing but damage public confidence in the government's ability to police itself and hold itself accountable to the electorate. We'll see soon enough if that lesson has sunk in with Justice Gomery."

Flap will continue to report events as they are reported in the USA and now Canadian Press. I will link when the source material becomes available.

Update # 1

Canadian blog Angry in the Great White North has this take on the partial lifting of the ban:

"The publication ban on the testimony of Jean Brault to the Gomery Inquiry has been essentially lifted. Mr. Justice Gomery had this to say:

"It is in the public interest that this evidence with few exceptions be made available to the public remembering that publication bans are a violation of constitutional rights and are to be imposed rarely, particularly in the context of a public inquiry."

I would agree with Justice Gomery, and I applaud his decision to lift the ban.

In the live news conference that has just ended, Justice Gomery did rattle off a dozen or so lines of the transcript that he felt needed to remain under wraps, since they speak to very specific actions of Mr. Brault that would be predjudicial if widely known. It's not clear to me just how much of the testimony is still off limits, The critical testimony of Jean Brault is that in which he outlines, from his point of view, the alleged movement of moneys from the government via the Sponsorship Program, to advertising agencies like his Groupaction, then to "employees" of Groupaction who were really Liberal party members and relatives of members, then to the Liberal Party coffers by way of individual donations. I'd say as long as those aspects of the testimony can be seen and judged by Canadians, and debated by their elected representatives in the House of Commons, then I'm satisified. I have a feeling that Justice Gomery is using tweezers to pick out those elements of the testimony that really need to be held back, instead scooping it all up with a backhoe.

I can respect that approach, and plan to honour those conditions, as long as the testimony that is of importance to abused taxpayers of this country is in the public domain."

Update # 2

The Globe and Mail weighs in here.

More here. And much more, here.

UPDATE: And Canadian news-blogger Brian Neale is all over this story.

H/T Instapundit

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