Category: The Libranos

Keeping St.Boniface In Winnipeg

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.

Go West Young Librano!

Ordinarily, I would scarcely be interested in an obscure, failed Liberal Party candidate from the west (where using words “failed” and “obscure” when describing Liberals place one in jeopardy of literary redundancy). Different strokes for different folks, though. Don at All Things Canadian seems to think Jim Travers take is worth reading today.

If paying party workers with taxpayer dollars worked in Quebec, then why not elsewhere? In fact, way back in 2002 The Toronto Star reported that similar tactics were allegedly used coast-to-coast.
In Atlantic Canada, a fantasy federal contract is said to have paid a provincial Liberal campaign organizer. Out West, a prospective candidate’s salary was allegedly reimbursed through inflated advertising payments.
Neither case has been tested in court or heard by Gomery, who is narrowly focused on Quebec. And it’s also true there is little incentive to break what until now has been a circle of silence protected with all the ferocity of junkyard dogs.
Will Brault’s surprisingly candid revelations finally expose all that noise as just the yapping of those with much to hide?

Unfortunately, Travers is factually incorrect.
Unlike most people who write about dogs or use them as colourful metaphors, I have actually trained a few – including, once upon a time, a personal protection dog.
Good junkyard dogs don’t bark. They don’t act ferociously. A professionally trained junkyard dog remains sleeping in the sun while you approach his compound. He snaps at a buzzing fly in response to that stick you’re running against the fence. When the wirecutters come out, he sits up, sends you a direct gaze …. and scratches an itchy ear with hind leg.
Until you’ve breached the wire and crossed that invisible boundary into the region of No Possible Escape (also know as the World Of Hurt) there will be no indication whatsoever that you’ve awakened anything more dangerous than someone’s geriatric pet.
No, Mr Travers – junkyard dogs don’t yap.
Poodles do.

Liberal “Audit” Conflict Of Interest?

MKBratten:

The Montreal firm that conducted the review (or audit if you talk to a Liberal MP) on the Quebec wing of the Liberal party’s finances, *Samson Blair Deloitte & Touche*, the same firm that has donated over $100,000 to the party, has previously employed MP Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as vice president.

It’s confirmed on his website.
Update: Sean just dumped a boatload of links in the comments on this. If they’re all as good as the first one

Gomery: Open A Window

The way things are going, Justice Gomery is going to have to start checking for Smoking Firearms Acquisition Certificates.

(Former Groupaction Marketing employee) Renaud testified that Guite often said contracts would be approved only after getting the green light from the country’s highest political office.
“He (Guite) said, ‘We’ll look at the project, present this to the (public works) minister and it has to go through the prime minister’s office’ and that’s how it worked,” Renaud said during his second day on the stand.

Another four Liberal MP’s are reported considering crossing the floor. In my opinion, I think it’s the only way honourable Liberal members can preserve their personal reputations at the moment. This is not a new scandal – the odor has been permeating this government for years. Same sex marriage opposition is also a factor – it is not supported by the majority of Canadians, polls reveal, and it decidedly less popular in rural ridings.
Related – Captain’s Quarters is as attentive as ever to developments, providing a valuable linking point between his strong US and new Canadian readership.
Worthington says this weeks testimony has the Liberals “bracing for a bomb”.

Earnscliffe Investigated

Politics Watch has an exclusive report that the Commons public accounts committee is looking for a few good men.
Unfortunately, Mr. Warren Kinsella and Ms. Terrie O’Leary will have to do.
Even more unfortunately, they may have to be subpeonaed. There are a few matters about the firm known as Earnscliffe that the committee would like to have straightened out, and they’re not answering their calls.
Update The subpeonas have been issued.

The Polls Begin

A new Eskos poll out has the Liberals slipping to 25%, with the Conservatives at 36%. We’ll be seeing a flurry of these in the next few days and weeks, with or without an election call.
Paul Martin remains undeterred! He’s taking the initiative and asking Justice Gomery to “follow the money”.

The Liberal Party will call on Mr. Justice John Gomery today to investigate whether large sums of money allegedly paid to well- connected members for government sponsorship contracts ever made it to the party coffers.

Well, I suppose that make sense in a way… during his years as Finance Minister his job was only to shovel it out.
Poll (PDF) here.

Auditing The Auditors

MK Braaten watched Scott Brison on Question Period this morning. So did I. Unlike me, though, he actually took him up on his offer to look at the Liberal Party audits posted on their website. Here’s just a teaser;

I have analyzed the so called ‘audits’ that the firms have recently performed on the Liberals books. The Liberals hired public accounting firms PriceWaterHouseCooopers and Deloitte to conduct these engagements. As a result of analyzing these statements what I found is quite interesting. The engagements focused on the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party’s finances and also the Federal Liberals finances. Deloitte was in charge of the Quebec wing and PWC conducted the engagement on the federal Liberal party’s finances. In fact, these engagements are not audits but simply an analysis of parts of the Liberals finances that they asked the firm to analyze.
[…]
The nature of this engagement is so the Liberal party of Canada can tell Canadians that it has had its books ‘audited’ by an external auditor. The recent sponsorship scandal has been linked to the Liberal party and its finances. However, in this engagement report, Deloitte writes that the report only analyses encashed contributions from – and disbursements made to advertising and communications agencies. More specifically, this engagement is only analyzing the parts of the Liberals finances that the Liberals asked them to analyze at the discretion of the party,and nothing more. By using the accounting data provided by the Liberals, Deloitte only compared the payments made and received in the books to the amounts deposited and removed from the bank accounts that they were given access to by the Liberal party. Likewise, the report only analyzes the information of four bank accounts, at a single bank, which were provided at the discretion of the Quebec wing.

He’s been kind enough to flesh out the piece with with the donation figures to registered political parties by the Samson Belair/ Deloitte & Touche folks.
A must read, and a fabulous tip if you’re a hungry journalist.

The Martin Connection

Months ago Canadian bloggers began digging through the Elections Canada database and discovered that a numbered company was the largest contributor to the party. Jay Currie asked; “Who is 55555 Inc.? Why did it/they give the Liberal Party $2,974,341.20? What did they get in return.?”

Mike Brock produced a chart.

MK Braaten;

Previously, Chuck Guite testified that he recalled that he had a telephone conversation with Terrie O’Leary who told him that “Paul would prefer (Earnscliffe)” for advertising contracts. Earnscliffe is an advertising/consulting firm which has very close ties with Paul Martin and was a large supporter in his leadership bid. In return, Earnscliffe’s owners David Herle and John Webster, who are also the national Liberal Co-chairs, donated nearly 3 million dollars to the Liberal party through a container company #55555 Inc. In total, Earnscliffe has earned over $6 Million dollars in government contracts under Martin’s watch. The question remains is whether Martin deliberately diverted contracts toward Earnscliffe, which is operated by Liberal party members, who then diverted money through #55555 Inc and back to the Liberal party. A phantom company with no previous history turned out to be the largest contributor towards the Liberal party in 2003; this definitely seems odd. Why else would a container company, whose financial statements are not public, donate millions of dollars to the Liberals? Similarly, Groupaction was given millions of dollars in contracts and was used as a container company. Government contract money would be ‘washed’ through Groupaction before it was illegally returned to the Liberal party disguised as donations. When Martin was running for leadership, Shelia Copps dared Martin to reveal who donated to his leadership campaign. Mr. Martin responded that the money was in a ‘blind trust’ and he did not know who contributed. Why the secrecy?

Discussion of this numbered company has arisen previously – without doing a lot of surfing around, it seems to me that the explanation given was that it represented the surplus from Paul Martin’s leadership campaign.
Now, here’s a question I can’t answer – perhaps readers can. What are the reporting procedures on donations to party leadership campaigns? Someone have Sheila Copps’ phone number?

Tip Of The Iceberg

A reader passed on these figures for The Canadian Firearms Registry ad contracts in the comments, pulled from Lufa.ca website. Lufa is a little gaudy in its layout, but it’s a good place to refresh one’s memory as to how much taxpayer money has gone down the drain in corruption and incompetence over the years.
GroupAction is Jean Brault’s outfit. MediaVision is part of GroupEverest – the firm associated with Paul Martin and his team. Testimony about GroupEverest’s involvement in Sponsorship contracts is still to come.

BIG CFC ADVERTISING CONTRACTS 1995/96 – 2001/ 02
SOURCE: Justice Department
Year ……. GroupAction ………. MediaVision
1997-98…$ 345,219.53
1998-99…$ 783,799.42 …….. 1,528,471.55
1999-00…$ 740,048.28 …….. 1,264,645.64
2000-01…$1,658,194.48 …. $14,892,511.62
2001-02…$1,006,999.00 …… $5,116,520.89
TOTAL … $4,534,260.71 ….. $22,802,149.70
Groupaction had to pony up $100,000 for their share of the action, can you IMAGINE what Mediavision had to pay for 5x the work?

Good question.
While we’re busy refreshing our memories, this lengthy post from last year at Rightpoint is a must read. It covers the testimony of Allan Cutler before the Public Accounts Committee, and suggest that the kickback scheme existed well before the Sponsorship program was hatched.

A CTV news report says that since word of the sponsorship scandal was made public, the Liberals have insisted the troubled program was launched to boost Canada’s image in the wake of a near-loss in the sovereignty referendum.
But Allan Cutler, a former federal bureaucrat, who was the original whistleblower at Public Works, told the Public Accounts Committee that he saw shady dealings in the department in 1994 — the year before the plebiscite.
That was when Cutler said departmental checks and balances on contract procedures were effectively erased by a senior Public Works official allegedly working with ministerial backing — Chuck Guite.
Cutler said he first raised his concerns with Guite shortly after his duties were changed in 1994, a move that upset his boss.
Allan Cutler “It quickly became apparent to me that my employment was in jeopardy,” he told the committee probing the findings of Auditor General Sheila Fraser, whose report uncovered $100 million in sponsorship money that was misspent or mishandled between 1997 and 2003.
At that point, Cutler said, he began keeping a diary of events, and putting aside copies of contracts and correspondence — all of which he submitted to the committee on Thursday.
“I have had to unlearn 20 years of good contracting,” he said in one entry to his diary from December 1995. “Falsification of information, payments to firms to conceal improper contracting . . . it never ends”

None of this should surprise any thinking person – organized theft on this scale does not spring fully-formed from nowhere. It starts small and grows with experience, confidence and success. The number of individuals implicated in the scandal indicates this was no isolated scheme, but “business as usual”.
This is a government that has placed billions of tax dollars in the hands of foundations that are headed by Liberal patronage appointees, and who are outside the reach of the Auditor General. There they remain, despite her suggestions that their books be open. Billions.

Call Your MP

A good day to pick up the phone and call your MP, I’d say.
You can find their numbers here.
Saskatchewan residents might funnel their calls to our lone Liberal MP, and finance minister “Honest Ralph” Goodale who, as of yesterday, still hadn’t responded to local media requests for an interview. Perhaps he’s taking his cue from “Scurring Through The Corridors” Chretien and “Fleeing In Dark Windowed Cars” Martin.
Ralph’s phone number: (613) 996-4743 fax : (613) 996-9790
Don’t bother with email. The words “sponsorship” and “you stinking band of crooks” won’t make it through the spam filters.
Neale News is on top of the items now flooding out of the mainstream press. (The London Fog blog scored a write-up in the local press).
In the National Post, Don Martin is picking up the “Canada’s Watergate” meme.

The Liberal spin of this as a scandal confined to a small band of unsupervised rascals who auctioned off contracts to the highest bidder and used the proceeds to line their own pockets is a tough sell. How, then, to explain the rogue party official who was able, after receiving a $50,000 cash bribe, to muscle the justice ministry into killing a planned advertising tender for the much maligned firearms registry, leaving the business in Brault’s hands? That’s deep penetration stuff, not just the small circle running the sponsorship program.

Some of our lefty blogger friends are pooh-poohing the comparison[1] to the Nixon scandal – as though the systemized theft of millions from the federal treasury by top government officials is just so much small potatoes when stacked againt the cover-up of a hotel room break-in.
Though, in a sense they’re right. Had this taken place in the US, the Prime MInister would already be gone. There would have been no “Gomery Inquiry”. The original Public Accounts Committee hearings would have resulted in Jean Chretien and Paul Martin both making their exit on a Sea King from the lawn of Parliament Hill.
Footnote:
[1] It’s also possible that the writer was just trying to stir the pot as a way of boosting readership.

Paul And The Pope

Greg Staples has mugshots a photo gallery of the “Parallel Liberal Group” featured in this SDA post from yesterday. It so nice to put faces to the names… go check it out.
In other late breaking developments – John Welsh has stepped down as chief of staff to Heritage Minister Liza Frulla. His Sponsorship claim to fame;

Liberal organizer, John Welch, now the chief of staff of Heritage Minister Liza Frulla.
Mr. Welch got paid $8,000 a month. For a year, he kept a small office at Groupaction, where “he was very active on the phone and I understood he was doing work of some type for the party,” Mr. Brault said.”

The Canadian contingent has arrived in Rome for the funeral of Pope John II. The BBC reports;

Vatican dignitaries who were on hand to meet the Canadian Prime Minister and his entourage were at first shocked when he kneeled on the ground immediately after disembarking.
Concerned that Mr. Martin might be attempting to emulate the late Pope in kissing the ground, their fears that an embarrasing protocol breach was about to occur were allayed when it was realized that he was merely attempting to claw a hole in the earth into which to crawl.

MSM Coverage Begins

The Globe and Mail is out of the box with the Brault testimony.
There is almost too much to absorb in one or two readings. For all that we have heard about the depth and routine nature of the criminality, it is worse than I thought. This part jumped out at me;

In September, 2001, Mr. Brault needed something from Mr. Morselli.
“You’re asking a lot of me. I do what I can. You said `If I can help, I’ll do it’,” he said he reminded Mr. Morselli. “I challenged him.”
He told Mr. Morselli he needed to delay the bidding for a contract with the Justice Department.
He said Mr. Morselli called a few days later and asked him to his office, in an east-end industrial park. As he went in, he saw Mr. Mignacca leaving.
He said Mr. Morselli asked for $100,000 in cash. “It’s $100,000 and your problem is solved,” Mr. Brault said he was told

The scandal broke before the payments were complete.
If true, it means that Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler’s office has been compromised by the very people it is supposed to be investigating. It does not matter to what extent or in what manner. What we do know is that none of his officials or department employees have been charged or publicly implicated – so it is not unreasonable to suspect that there are individuals there who are still playing for the other team.
In this light, every move by the Justice Department in prosecuting (or not prosecuting) individuals involved in the corruption must be highly scrutinized for any whiff of conflict of interest or the setting up of tactical legal roadblocks, unless and until the Minister addresses the accusation and demonstrates that his officials have been thoroughly investigated for any role in the affair.

Ban Partially Lifted

Via radio news:
Gomery has announced a partial lifting of the ban on evidence, noting something that has been clear to anyone reading accounts – most of his evidence doesn’t incriminate those who have been charged, but both the Chretien and the current Martin Liberals.
Heh. Local talk radio host John Gormley is already spilling the details. You go, Metrosexual!
That the testimony that directly implicates those who face fraud trials is remaining under ban is a provision that I think is acceptable, and I will do my utmost to respect it, and ask my commentors to do the same.
And finally, a big thankyou to the talk radio stations here and across Canada who featured efforts and risks taken by bloggers and sent traffic flowing to our sites. Talk radio and the blogosphere are a natural fit, and we’ll both benefit if we can find ways to enhance the relationship.
In the meanwhile, I’m just looking forward to taking it easy for a few days. I plan to sit back and let the pros take over the real job of reporting on the testimony, so we bloggers can go back to our day jobs – keeping watch for the “spins of omission” soon to come from the usual suspects, once the realization settles in that The Natural Governing Party is in serious trouble of being supplanted by Extremist Conservatives.
One final thought.
Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters should be nominated for the Order Of Canada.
(A more practical suggestion in the comments – go hit his donation tip jar, which you’ll find at the left side of the main page of his site).

Hells Angels Withdraw Liberal Support

Canada’s Liberal Party is in danger of losing its base.
Greg Weston. Sun Media;

The biker gang’s Toronto chapter is so peeved at the PM that it has adorned its website with a doctored photo of Martin, decked out in a bandanna, over the caption: “Pirate of Canada.”
What got the bikers’ leathers in a twist was Martin’s odd statement that the federal Liberals should not be tarnished by the “activities of a very small few who may have colluded against the party.”
The bikers fumed to us by e-mail yesterday, saying: “The government thinks it’s fine to blame every Hells Angel for the actions of a few … What a country this used to be. What a hypocritical pile of #&$* it is becoming”.

Via Political Staples.

“Pirate of Canada” isn’t such a metaphorical stretch – see my SDA post on Paul Martin’s Canada Steamship Lines and the unusual exemption that the Barbados recieved when Canada closed offshore tax loopholes rules. In Paul Martin’s government “blind trust” means wearing a patch over one eye.

Adscam: American Spectators

Ed Morrisey is waiting for Justice Gomery to decide whether or not to lift the publication ban (in response to the decision to set back Brault’s trial date to June). If it isn’t lifted, an update on testimony is forthcoming.
The US media is starting to take notice. The New York Times is picking up the scent. I assume federal agents will be stationed at the border to intercept any NYT copies with banned information.
John Tabin at The American Spectator;

If you’re a Canadian, be advised: Your government doesn’t want you to know what lies herein. If you’re a blogger in Canada, you may actually get in legal trouble for linking to this column.

Ed has been interviewed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and his efforts were the topic of the lead editorial at the Dallas Morning News, where they expressed concern that he may find himself the target of Canadian courts.
I hope the good citizens of the United States of America are letting up on the gas on those 75 mph Interstate highways – before the Canadian government gets wind of them breaking our speed limits.

A Tale Of Two Accountants

Two posts which may or may not be related.
Colbert:

The Minister said staff in his Montreal-area riding office were approached by Maria Sicurella di Amodeo, who asked for help with her immigration file. Sicurella is the wife of Italian Cop Killer Gaetano Amodeo, who was arrested in Montreal in May of 1999. His name appeared on Interpol’s list of 500 most dangerous fugitives. Yet the Liberal Government granted him entry into Canada and permitted him to leave and return and even file for landed immigrant status after the Italian deportation order was requested.
Once his wife had successfully obtained landed immigrant status, she attempted to sponsor Amodeo for permanent residency.
Amodeo is affiliated with the Cuntrera mob family which had done business with Gagliano’s accounting firm before he was appointed to cabinet.
[…]
And I have already written about how in May of 1999 it came to light that Mr. Dithers had a connection to Connaught Labs and the Tainted Blood Scandal. He did not declare a conflict of interest when the issue of compensation was discussed a cabinet or when the heavily whipped vote was called in Parliament.
The toothless Ethics Commissioner Howard Wilson investigated and cleared Martin but key pieces of evidence had gone “missing”.
On May 18, 1999 the Montr�al offices of the Canadian Hemophilia Society were burglarized and items were stolen including documents that allege a link between Mr. Dithers and the tainted blood scandal.
On the very same day an Arkansas clinic owned by Michael Galster was firebombed and police found a gas canister near where Mr. Galster kept his records. Mr. Galster wrote the book “Blood Trail” which raised questions about the collection of blood from State prison inmates for sale to private labs like Connaught.

Now, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Sean tells us more about apparent discrepencies between the money allegedly “donated” to the Liberals and the Elections Canada record;

I counted twelve donations to the Liberals from Groupaction Marketing/Gosselin Communications between 1993 and 2004 for a total of $150,605.88 (data available here). While that sounds like a lot, I have reason to believe [cough cough cough] that the amount of on record donations to the Liberal Party should be much higher. There are three possible explanations for this. The first is that the Liberal Party of Canada has been filing inaccurate financial reports and is in breach of the law. The second is that Elections Canada has some whomping big holes in their data. The third, and possibly most likely explanation, is that I’ve missed something somewhere. I would appreciate it if other bloggers could take some time today and double-check my work. I’d like to see this followed up on as I’m smelling blood right now.

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