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Posted by DoubleZero on 19:16:39 2005/04/09
Winds of Change.NET
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One Canadian's Thoughts on AdScam
by Guest Author at April 8, 2005 05:14 AM
I just finished reading the book 'Hot Money' by R.T. Naylor. This highly informative and detailed book explains how tax revenues are systematically looted by government officials, their business cronies, and banks in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, the United States, and Africa. Canada is barely mentioned in the book, but perhaps in the next edition, it should be. What I read on the Captain's Quarters blog was shocking. You expect this sort of thing from municipal politicians and corporate executives, but not from the federal government.
The way I understand Mr. Breault's testimony, the Liberal Party was embezzling government funds allocated to the Ministry of Public Works with the full knowledge and winking consent of its then Minister, the now-discredited Alfonso Gagliano. These funds were embezzled by being 'spent' on contracts doled out to faithful Liberal-friendly advertising firms in Montreal. Little or no work was completed for these payments, but no matter, none was expected. The true reason the Liberals were handing out these contracts was so that the advertising firms would then recycle the money back into the Liberal Party of Canada in the form of political donations.
Some of the money was siphoned off and never actually reached the outstretched arms of the Liberal Party, it went into the pockets of people who were working for the Liberals in Quebec, in order to purchase their loyalty. People were put on the payroll of these firms and never showed up to work, but were still paid, a la Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs. The available testimony on the CQ blog just gives us the basics, so we don't know if these individuals then turned around and donated the money they received back to the Liberal Party; i.e. they were just another buffer to throw off the scent of the money for government of Canada accountants who might be trying to follow the trail.
Now I understand the Quebec Sponsorship Program; before, it never really made sense to me.
For example, since the referendum was held in 1995, why was the Sponsorship Program only shut down seven years later? The standard Liberal explanation for the Sponsorship Program was that the Canadian government was trying to increase the profile of Canada and its institutions in the Province of Quebec, in order to lessen the risks of Quebec leaving Confederation. But even back before the Sponsorship program got underway, the independence movement in Quebec was already fading away. Parti Quebecois Premiers such as Bouchard and Landry were having a tough time staying in power due to their fiscal cutbacks and perceived slight shift towards the neo-conservatism which had already swept across the United States, English Canada, and many parts of Europe and Latin America. This angered the voters and made them elect Jean Charest's Parti Liberal in Quebec in 2002. Federally, the Bloc Quebecois was doing a fine job of defending Quebec's interests without even bothering to talk about independence. They even stopped mentioning sovereignty-association several years ago.
So why was the Sponsorship Program still going on?
The entire rationale for the Sponsorship Program seemed suspect. No Liberal official was ever able to adequately explain exactly how slapping up a bunch of Canadian flags all over Quebec was supposed to make Quebec separatists feel more like staying part of Canada. Were I a separatist, waking up and seeing Canadian flags waving out the window would definitely make me see red. If anything, I would be insulted and feel more like working to make Quebec independent.
Think about it. All Canadians know that we are experiencing a great deal of friction with the United States right now. If you, as a Canadian, woke up one morning to see U.S. flags all over the place, wouldn't you feel a bit alarmed? Maybe even angry? Sure, some conservatives out west would celebrate by throwing their cowboy hats in the air and roasting a steer... but you get my point.
Back to the scandal, Mr. Breault apparently broke down crying while recounting that on one occasion in which he was being extorted by Gagliano's lieutenants, he feared for his life. He seems to have realized that he was in over his head.
I find it ironic that Breault was being extorted over a government contract to provide advertising for Via Rail, which is the direct descendant of the passenger train services of the CPR, which also figured prominently in the previous worst-ever scandal in Canadian history, the Pacific Scandal, which forced Conservative Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald from office in 1873.
Breault will probably make an ideal candidate for the witness protection program after this trial is over. This sad tale illustrates the severity of the scandal.
Whether or not the Liberal Party was in cahoots with the Mafia will be difficult to prove. Gagliano himself, after returning from exile in Denmark, vehemently denied ever being part of any 'family' or 'organization' of that sort. However, it is well-known that a former hitman turned FBI informant, Frank Lino, fingered Gagliano as being a made man in the Bonnano 'famiglia' of New York.
If in fact the Liberal Party is not working with, and has never had friendly relations with the Mafia, they certainly are well-versed in the art of laundering money, Mafia-style. Everything I read of Jean Breault's testimony is almost identical to some of the scams I have read about which have taken place over the years in places such as the Phillippines, Argentina, and Mexico. The only difference is that the Liberals were not actually funneling money into offshore accounts in Switzerland and Panama - although they may have been, that just hasn't come out in the testimony so far.
Near as I can tell, the Quebec Sponsorhip Program was not designed to 'Increase the Visibility of Canadian Federal Institutions in Quebec', it was designed to be a cash cow. Its true purpose was Mafia-style money laundering, conceived, designed, approved, and implemented from the very top.
It's entirely possible that Jean Chretien knew nothing about the scam, although the onus is on him to prove it. After all, his brother Gabriel is a central figure in the scandal, as is his designated point man in Quebec, Alfonso (Big Spender) Gagliano. Guilty or not, Chretien will deny everything and get off; he's a lawyer with some of the best connections money can buy. Still, some heads are going to roll for this, whether an election is forced soon or not.
Realizing what had been going on in the back rooms and dimly lit restaurants of Ottawa under Chretien's tenure, it seems a wholly good thing that Chretien was overthrown by Paul Martin, or else the scam might have been going on still, today. However, whether you're a Conservative, a Liberal, a supporter of the NDP or even a separatist, you have to kind of feel sorry for Martin because even though he requested the public inquiry, he's going to go down in flames when this government falls.
Unless I see unequivocal evidence, solid proof, that Paul Martin had absolutely nothing to do with the Sponsorship Program, other than closing it down, I cannot see myself voting for the Liberal Party in the looming election, or even the one after that. Only if an airtight case is made that all the corrosive elements in the Liberal Party have been completely purged would I even remotely consider it.
Even then, I probably wouldn't vote Liberal because I have several other problems with them. I live in downtown Toronto, which is supposedly the centre of Liberal power. When you live and work here, though, it really doesn't feel like the Liberals are paying attention to the concerns of this city at all. Maybe if you live in Medicine Hat or Fredericton you might assume that everyone in Toronto and Southern Ontario is happy with our friends the Liberals, but that is absolutely not the case. They just take our money and shovel it all over the country. If we ask for some of it back, even Liberal MPs whose ridings are in Toronto tell us to shut up and stop being selfish. Once they get elected, they move to Ottawa and become trained seals.
People from all over the country come here with little or no skills expecting to find a job waiting for them. When they don't find one, they end up smoking crack and living on the streets and Toronto has to pay to take care of them. Meanwhile, foreign immigrants with doctorates in engineering and medicine are driving taxis or delivering pizzas. The Toronto Star recently printed an article stating that Chinese immigrants are leaving the country in droves, because there aren't enough opportunities here. Where are they moving to? China!
When a communist country can provide more opportunities than Canada, we have a serious problem which needs to be looked at urgently. As a matter of fact, one of my oldest friends moved to Shanghai last month to work as an architect. He doesn't even have any Chinese background. There was nothing for him here. How does Paul Martin respond to Ontario's budget deficit? What does he do when Toronto tells him it can no longer afford to fully maintain basic services like transit and sewers? He sends a cheque... to Newfoundland, allowing them to keep their oil and gas revenues while collecting still more of Toronto's and Ontario's taxes.
My friends and I used to laugh about what the government does with our taxes. We would joke that they stuff airplanes with bags of money and dump them over Quebec. That's what makes the Sponsorship Scandal so disturbing - the Liberals were actually doing that for at least five years, and it's just not funny anymore.
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