Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Groupaction Goodies for Gomery to Gasp At?

And this time, there's no need to tiptoe around a publication ban. Check out this story from Greg Weston of Sun Media, available from C-News (Angry in the Great White North has the Toronto Sun version):

A Montreal advertising firm that received more than $40 million in AdScam sponsorship contracts paid huge kickbacks to both the federal Liberal party and the Quebec separatists, senior executives of the company have told Sun Media. "I remember seeing the cheques," one former Groupaction executive said of payments to the federal Liberal party in Quebec.
The man spoke on condition that he not be identified until he testifies at the Gomery inquiry sometime over the coming weeks.

The exec said the president of Groupaction, Jean Brault, made no secret around the company about where the kickback cash was going and for what.

"He spoke to me about it ... having to pay money back to the Liberal Party" in return for contracts.

Note that this evades Govery's publication ban because Weston interviewed a source who wasn't at the inquiry, but is scheduled to testify later.

Weston names former Groupaction executive Alain Renaud as the source for the story that the ad agency kicked back money to the PQ in return for an ad contract with the Quebec government (which was run by the PQ at the time of the allegations). The fact that Renaud is described as a former executive suggests that we take his word with a grain of salt due to potential sour grapes; still, it's quite a shocker.

I don't remember seeing corruption this bad in Canadian politics since the 1976 Montréal Olympics. Corruption and mismanagement landed that city with the white elephant that is Olympic Stadium.

As Angry points out, this is a ticking bomb for Quebec politics. It damages both the federal Grits and the provincial PQ.

But there's also potential collateral damage for Premier Jean Charest's Quebec Liberal Party and the federal Bloc Québecois (members of which also share membership with the PQ). Both will be under pressure to sever their ties with the implicated organizations, adding up to a weakened presence on the national scene.

A potential beneficiary would be Mario Dumont and Action Démocratique du Québec. Currently the third party in Quebec politics, with 5 members in the 125-member Assemblée nationale, ADQ could make PQ corruption enough of an election issue to double their representation.

If there is an upshot to this, the fact that both sides in the "national unity" debate were implicated in corruption suggests that neither party would be interested in putting Quebec independence on the front burner any time soon, lest irritated voters in Quebec and elsewhere bring up the corruption issue and discredit the players.