Since AdScam has really been heating up as of late, I've decided to post a somewhat brief recap or explanation as to what it is for the benefit of my global friends.
The seperatist movement in Quebec had been gaining momentum since a failed referendum back in 1980 which resulted in another public vote in 1995. Quebec voters were once again asked if their province should seek independence from Canada and form their own state. The motion, which was brought forward by the then ruling Parti Quebecois, was narrowly defeated by a margin of 50.58% to 49.42% on 30 Oct 1995.
In 1996 Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Fiberal cronies, still reeling from the close call, hatched a scheme in which they hoped to promote Canada by allocating tax dollars to sponsor sporting and cultural events in Quebec by way of the so-called sponsorship program. The program was to be administered by Public Works and Government Services Canada.
Within a few years, rumours of misuse had begun to surface and Chretien responded by calling for an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) investigation into the manner in 1999. Not much became of the slow moving investigation except for the removal of Alfonso Gagliano as Minister responsible for Public Works. He was subsequently offered a plum in the form of his new position - ambassador to Denmark.
The proverbial poop didn't hit the fan until February of 2004 when Auditor General Sheila Fraser released the findings of her audit into the problem-plagued sponsorship program. What she discovered was soon to rock the Liberal Party of Canada to its very foundation. The report stated that as much as $100 million had been paid out to Liberal-friendly advertising firms in Quebec for little or no work at all. The fickle finger of guilt pointed not only at Public Works but prominent Crown Corporations such as Canada Post and Via Rail with Chretien loyalists Andre Ouellet (Canada Post head) and Jean Pelletier (Via Rail head) quickly being drawn in. It wasn't long before a number of high profile Liberals became embroiled in the scandal. As a result of Jean Chretien's retirement in late 2003, the boondoggle landed squarely in the lap of new Liberal leader and Prime Minister Paul Martin. Recent testimony has also revealed that a percentage of these funds were funnelled back into Liberal coffers.
There were no more plums for Gagliano as he was fired from his post as ambassador by Martin who was now in full damage control mode. The PM called for a public inquiry which became known as the Gomery Commission to be headed by John Howard Gomery of the Superior Court of Quebec. Martin also denied any personal knowledge of wrongdoing instead blaming everything on his predecessor Jean Chretien. This despite the fact that Martin was actually Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002 and as such must have had detailed knowledge of the goings on charged the Conservatives. In addition to this he was also a member of the Treasury Board at the time.
As the inquiry continues, the testimony has become more and more interesting albeit shocking. As a result many recent polls have showed the Liberals to be in a free fall with support for the Conservative Party of Canada quickly increasing.
To read more on this scandal check out the official Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities website here.
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