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As my pal JimBobby would say Whooee! Business is picking up at the Gomery Inquiry and just a few people are anxious to keep their names out of it. First on the list is Alfonso Gagliano who allegedly threatened Benoit Corbeil.
MONTREAL - A former high-ranking Liberal who yesterday offered more evidence of sponsorship cash being diverted to the governing party said Alfonso Gagliano called him three weeks ago and warned him not to come clean with the Gomery inquiry.

Benoit Corbeil, director-general of the federal Liberals' Quebec wing from 1998-2001, testified that Mr. Gagliano, the former public works minister, told him "people would come out against him" if he implicated the Liberals in the sponsorship scandal.

Of course Corbeil ignored the supposed warning and sang like a canary. According to Corbeil, his Quebec wing was in a serious financial crunch back in 2000 with a number of volunteers demanding payment, many of whom were aides to ministers away on leave during the campaign. He claimed that Gagliano's chief of staff, Jean-Marc Bard, sent him over to see Jean Brault of Groupaction, which just happened to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the sponsorship scandal program. Corbeil stated that Brault gave him $100,000 in October of that year and that the Liberal Party never registered the funds as official donations. He further explained that half of that money came in the form of cheques issued through Commando Marketing, a Groupaction subsidiary, and went to five Liberal organizers. The balance arrived in the form of 2 cash payments.

Not to be outdone, 3 of the aides fingered by Corbeil sent him a letter during a break at the inquiry threatening legal action if he named them.
During a break in his testimony on Monday, a bailiff arrived with a letter from the three, warning Corbeil of legal action against him if he named them at the inquiry.

Corbeil's lawyer, Guy Bertrand, characterized the letter as a threat.

"I think it's a kind of intimidation before his testimony," he said. "I think they should wait until after his testimony before saying, 'I'm going to sue you.'"

In any event, Bertrand said Corbeil can't be sued for defamation because witnesses can't be prosecuted for what they say before a public inquiry.

What I can't understand is, and Greg over at Political Staples mentioned it as well, it was known that Corbeil was planning to reveal names during his testimony because he said he would during several media interviews. Why would these 3 wait until he appeared at the inquiry to issue their threat? Why would they even bother at all knowing that he is immune?

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cross-posted to Rite Turn Only

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