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Tuesday, August 14, 2007 

For The First Time, The Name 'Chretien' Comes Up In The Sponsorship Scandal

QUEBEC CITY -- "Charles (Chuck) Guite says he was just following orders when he doled out millions of taxpayers' dollars to ad agencies in return for little or no work on the sponsorship program. [...]

Guite lays the blame for the scandal directly on his higher-ups -- former minister of public works Alfonso Gagliano and former prime minister Jean Chretien."

Sue Montgomery, CanWest News Service

National Post

The Sponsorship scandal continues to envelop new figures.

Part of the smoking gun has always been the fact - revealed in the Gomery Inquiry - that the Chretien cabinet meeting in February 1996 was treated to a document that recommended a “substantial strengthening of the Liberal Party of Quebec”.

This continues to be important, as it clearly demonstrates that at the highest levels of the federal government, cabinet ministers had completely lost the distinction between their public trust and the parochial interests of the Liberal Party.

I guess this is what happens when one party rules for so long.

Hey, at least the scandal didn't kill hundreds of thousands of people. Ours tend to do that.

Oh, I don't know Blogging Horse. I'd say four months after the referendum that almost broke up the country it was entirely appropriate for our federal cabinet to be discussing ways to strengthen the only real federal alternative in Quebec provincial politics. They'd just BARELY avoided a vote in Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada, and I think that was probably their top priority.

I'd hope (and frankly, I suspect it would have been so) that had it been a Charest Tory government in Ottawa in February of 1996, months after the referendum, that one of the objectives of their cabinet meeting would have been "What can we do to strengthen the Liberal Party of Quebec?". These were the days when, regarding Quebec, federalist/nationalist outweighed conservative/liberal. In 1996 Quebec provincial politics there was the Liberal Party of Quebec, and there was the PQ. Those were the choices (the ADQ, less than 2 years old, had only ONE MNA, and Dumont campaigned for the Yes side). I'd say the federal cabinet were probably smart to hold a discussion on how to help strengthen the "good guys" (in the separatist debate) and I'd be SHOCKED to learn it wasn't high on the list of things to discuss. I suppose they could have instead discussed ways to substantially weaken the Parti Quebecois, but the PQ were the government of Quebec at the time, and I'd imagine they figured the optics of the federal government directly attacking the government of Quebec made a lot less sense than letting Daniel Johnson continue to be the lead voice for federalism at the provincial level, and working on ways to help him and his provincial party.

I know there's overlap, but discussing how to help accomplish returning a federalist government to Quebec 4 months after the referendum was in the public interest. It's not JUST a parochial interest of the Liberal Party of Canada, and I'd hope ANY federalist party, of any stripe, would have been interested in discussing ways of helping to strengthen the Johnson's Liberal Party of Quebec 4 months after the referendum vote.

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