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Posted by Michael on 14:58:48 2004/12/15
In Reply to: Re: CCD on Alberta radio re Judy Sgro posted by Steve Majewski
Byline: Bruce Campion-Smith
Outlet: Toronto Star
Title: Stripper inquiry 'far-reaching'
More than 30 employees at the federal immigration department have been
hit with subpoenas ordering them to testify before the ethics
investigation into the stripper scandal that has engulfed Judy Sgro,
In a move that could spell trouble for Paul Martin's government, a
flurry of subpoenas has gone out, signalling that ethics commissioner
Bernard Shapiro is conducting a far-reaching probe into allegations that
Sgro, the immigration minister, used her influence to help a campaign
Micheline Rondeau-Parent, spokesperson for Shapiro, refused to say
yesterday whether subpoenas have been issued.
But one source said subpoenas were sent to about 30 department staff
plus as many as 10 political aides.
"It's pretty far-reaching. This is quite an investigation," the source
Sgro spokesperson Sherri Haigh said the subpoenas have been sent out
"for the last little while."
"A number of people from our office ... and from the campaign office
have already been interviewed actually," she said.
"Probably the bulk of people have been interviewed," she said, while
declining to say who or how many employees have given testimony.
Sgro has been fending off allegations that she dispensed favours after
it was revealed that Alina Balaican, a 25-year-old stripper from
Romania, was granted a ministerial permit to stay in Canada after she
volunteered on Sgro's election campaign.
Sgro asked Shapiro to give her "advice" on the issue soon after the
controversy broke in early November.
But Sgro's problems deepened soon after when Conservative MP Diane
Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill) asked Shapiro to conduct a much broader
investigation into claims that the minister turned a blind eye to
another campaign office regular allegedly wanted on a Canada-wide
warrant and had senior advisers doing campaign work while on the
Rondeau-Parent said the ethics commissioner has the power to summon
witnesses for his investigations.
"The use of subpoenas to summon witnesses is part of the process," she
She said people are testifying before Lisa Micucci and David Scott, two
lawyers hired by Shapiro at a cost of at least $30,000 to conduct
"fact-finding" in the investigation.
"There will be no other comment than that," Rondeau-Parent said. "Those
powers are to be exercised in private."
Sure to be on the list of witnesses is Ihor Wons, Sgro's chief of staff,
whose actions are at the centre of the investigation.
He has taken a month-long leave of absence after it was revealed he met
the co-owner of a Toronto strip club who wanted to get 18 strippers from
the Dominican Republic into Canada. Wons later said he couldn't help.
It was Wons who met with Balaican and her husband when they came into
Sgro's office seeking help during the election.
It's also been reported that Wons knew that another "regular" in Sgro's
campaign office, a pizza delivery man, was wanted on a Canada-wide
warrant, and that Wons failed to alert authorities - a claim Sgro has
Another name that could be on the witness list is Martin aide Scott
Reid. Both Martin and Reid have admitted they were aware of the
allegations swirling around Sgro as far back as the summer. Reid said
yesterday he had not been summoned to appear.
In a recent interview, Sgro denied she did any favours for Balaican,
insisting she was just trying to help the woman get out of stripping.
Balaican herself wrote the Toronto Star to say she and her husband had
never met Sgro or sought preferential treatment.
But those denials haven't quelled opposition MPs, who have been calling
for Sgro's resignation for weeks.
Sources say the ethics commissioner is keen to wrap up the probe before
Christmas. But they say that timeline will be hard to meet given that
his lawyers are still hearing testimony this week.
Even Rondeau-Parent suggested that schedule is ambitious.
"We're still at the fact-finding stage," she said.
In question period yesterday, Sgro found herself defending her office on
another front after a media report that a senior staffer was fired on
suspicion of being a security threat.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Sgro dismissed the story as a
with files from tonda maccharles
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