The Black Rod has been collecting federal sponsorship trivia – in Manitoba.
Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival was given $30,000 in 2001. However an access-to-information request showed that the festival had actually been awarded $34,500 by Public Works Canada.
Festival organizers were told that the other $4,500 was a commission to Compass Communications in Halifax. They were told to send a bill to Compass, but to make the bill out to Media/IDA in Montreal. The letter to the Ukrainian Festival was written by Pierre Tremblay, a very familiar name in the Adscam investigation.
Conservative MP Bill Casey asked the obvious question in the House of Commons:
“Does the minister have any idea at all why Public Works would tell a Manitoba organization to send this bill through one Liberal advertising agency in Nova Scotia and have it funnelled through another one in Montreal for an event in Manitoba to be paid for by Ottawa?
Did the government pay commissions to Media/IDA Vision in Montreal or did it pay commissions to Compass Communications in Halifax, or did it pay commissions to both of these Liberal advertising firms?”
He never got a straight answer. Nor has anyone.
Compass is owned by Tony Blom, a Liberal strategist who is also related to former Nova Scotia Liberal party president Gerald Blom.
Government records show it received $463,365 in commissions and more than $4.6 million for production costs related to events between 1998 and 2001.
The names Compass and Tremblay showed up again in documents surrounding sponsorship of the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg in 1999. Compass Communications billed $1.6 million in fees and commissions.
Objections were raised as to whether the sponsorship project met the government’s own rules. “Pay it,” said Tremblay, who overruled the naysayers.
NDP MP Pat Martin has invoices showing the Pan Am Games Society received $634,000. A letter dated May 1, 1999, from Games president Don MacKenzie to Blom indicates the group was expecting another $300,000 from Compass. He’s still wondering where that money went.
“I believe this sponsorship program blew way out of control,” said Pat Martin. “It appears to have turned into a cash cow. The abuse began immediately and the abuse extended it seems beyond Quebec’s borders at least to Halifax and now to Winnipeg.”
You can obtain a full copy of the article by email: Black Rod.