Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Canadian Adscam Scandel - Gomery Inquiry - Corriveau plays down ties to Chrétien

Jacques Corriveau, former Liberal organizer and president of Pluri-Design, arrives to testify before the Gomery commission Thursday in Montreal.

The Globe and Mail has the latest on the Gomery Inquiry into the role of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien :

A key figure in the federal sponsorship controversy tried to minimize his connection to former prime minister Jean Chrétien as he made his long-awaited appearance Thursday before the Gomery inquiry.

Jacques Corriveau had been portrayed in previous testimony as a central power broker who earned $5.9-million in sponsorship subcontracts for which his design firm did no actual work.

The inquiry had heard that his companies paid him $9-million in dividends, thanks to large subcontracting deals with firms involved in the sponsorship programs.

He conceded that he did better with the Liberals in the 1990s than under the Tories in the 1980s.

"When fortune smiles on you, you don't turn it down," he beamed.

However, Mr. Corriveau denied that he had been a close friend of Mr. Chrétien, leader of both the Liberal Party and the country during that period.

“A close friend, you see him 10 to 15 times a year, not twice,” he countered.

Still, he said he felt “respect, loyalty and solidarity” for Mr. Chrétien and made no bones about his patriotic feelings, calling Canada an “extraordinary country.”

Mr. Corriveau -- music lover, party fundraiser and reputed Chrétien pal -- stepped out of the shadows Thursday to speak publicly for the first time about his role in the controversy.

A frail-looking, silver-haired 72-year-old, Mr. Corriveau was nicknamed Tête blanche (White Head), the inquiry previously heard.

He looked annoyed when he showed up, swatting the microphone of a reporter who approached him. At the witness stand, he came across as a proud, smooth-talking man who studied fine arts, admired the Bauhaus architecture school and worked in New York, Italy and Iran.

“Culture is my reason for existing,” he said.

He said he had been active in the Liberal party for 40 years and confirmed that stayed at the prime minister's home at 24 Sussex Drive, but he said it happened just once.

An agenda entry that the inquiry saw, also Thursday, mentioned a 1994 breakfast between Mr. Corriveau and Mr. Chrétien and his long-time adviser, Eddie Goldenberg. Phone logs at the prime minister's switchboard showed numerous calls between Mr. Corriveau and Mr. Chrétien.

Mr. Corriveau said some of those calls were due to his graphic-design firm employing one of Mr. Chrétien's son, Michel. “I paid a lot of attention to his son.”

But inquiry counsel Bernard Roy pointed out that Michel Chrétien worked at Pluri Design Canada Inc. between 1989 and 1991, before the Liberals came to power.

What are the conservatives waiting for?

This government and the Liberal Party leadership must stand for elections.

Read what Captain Ed has to say over at Captain's Quarters here.

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