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Beryl Wajsman’s return to the Liberal fold—which we broke last week—has caused a stir in Ottawa



Photo by Alan Hustak

Last week’s Maclean’s story detailing strategist and organizer Beryl Wajsman’s return to the Liberal Party of Canada has erupted in Ottawa. Wajsman, whose name appeared on a list of ten prominent Liberals “banned” from the party following the sponsorship scandal in 2005, has since returned to the Liberal fold, primarily as an organizer for Michael Ignatieff advisor Alfred Apps.

Conservative Public Works Minister Christian Paradis brought up Wajsman’s return in the House of Commons yesterday, and followed up with a press release saying the Liberal Party “has clearly not learned its lesson from the Sponsorship Scandal.”

Paradis alleges that Wajsman was heavily involved in the scandal in 2005, even though Wajsman was never accused of any impropriety or crime. Yesterday, through his lawyer, he fired back at Paradis. “You made remarks alleging [Wajsman’s] involvement in the sponsorship scandal. This constitutes defamatory libel. We demand that you immediately apologize and retract these statements,” wrote Montreal lawyer Julius Grey. “There is no evidence that Beryl is anything but honest,” Grey told Maclean’s. “There is only so much a citizen can take of having mud thrown at him.”

Reached for comment, Wajsman said he is pursuing Paradis and the Conservative Party in order to right his reputation, something he says he didn’t do in 2005. “Maybe I should have gone after them back then,” he says, referring to former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Liberal Quebec lieutenant Jean Lapierre, who were responsible for banning him. (The ban never actually occurred, as it was illegal under the Liberal Party’s constitution at the time.) “But now, I’m going to finish this. It’s enough. I’m a leader, not fodder for people’s careers,” he says, of Christian Paradis.

Neither Paradis or Conservative spokesperson Ryan Sparrow returned Maclean’s emails for reaction.

Confronted with the news outside the House of Commons, Ignatieff downplayed Wajsman’s involvement with the Liberals. “Listen, there are people who think he wrote speeches for me. To my knowledge I haven’t had contact with Mr. Wajsman and I don’t read his speeches, that’s for sure.” However, as the picture above indicates, the two met at a Liberal function in December. The photo appeared in the print version of Wajsman’s newspaper, The Metropolitain, as well as on the website of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal, a think tank of which Wajsman is president.

Alfred Apps, who is also running for the President of the Liberal Party of Canada, says he isn’t surprised that Ignatieff couldn’t remember Wajsman immediatly. “There are dozens of people who have contributed to Michael’s policy development and speeches, and Beryl has been one of them. Has he been a speechwriter for Michael? No. Has he written speeches for Michael? No.”

Apps says Wajsman has played a consultative role behind certain Liberal policies–for which Apps makes no apologies. “I think there’s an effort here on the part of the Tories to slam people with guilt by association. Beryl is one of the militants that is helping with the party, and his help is welcomed.” The presumptive next Liberal President–he is currently running unopposed–suggests the so-called “banned list” on which Wajsman appeared was less about meted out justice than it was a vestige of the old, bitter feud between Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien. “That list was created before the Gomery Commission had made any of its findings,” Apps said.


Sorry, have we met?

  1. I meant to write in my post that was a good story, Martin. It is refreshing to read something that makes Libs uncomfortable in something other than Nat Post. I am always ranting and raving about msm but Macleans isn’t part of my disgruntlement because, except for a few writers, your mag/editors like to stir things up for all parties. It seems there is always at least one article per issue that I know nothing about and learn something new and I can’t ask for more than that.

    I hope Wajsman goes after Cons/Paradis, as I am sure they do, because more Adscam headlines are not going to help Libs in any way.

    • i shouldn’t wonder why you want Lib types to be uncomfortable when the conservs are far more corrupt than any other party i have ever known in the recent history of this country and deserve collective condemnation from all of us.

      this party is the bastard of Reform and the National Progressive Conservative Party. they are the worst political ambulance chasers i have ever seen; and they are willing more than any other party to corrupt this country for the sake of their own short-sighted gain and their need to be right at all costs. because i note this similar sentiment to some degree in all parties in our system, this is one reason why i am an independent in terms of political ideology. politics is there to conform to and serve our/our country’s needs and requirements; *not* the other way around.

      Adscam began with Mulroney and the National PC party’s advertising affiliates (who simply become affiliates of the ruling party); only it wasn’t called “Adscam” back then–who do you think made all those slick ads mocking Chretien’s disability or those pro Meech Lake or Charlottetown Accord ads?

      that it’s too hard to look at things in depth seems to be why many are too willing to overlook the obvious–it’s far easier to back the bully isn’t it? but hey, much as i disliked him as PM, Paul Martin actually had an open inquiry to reveal the truth compared to the harmful, secretive manner in which the conservs are conducting things right now; i guess these are all inconvenient truths as well.

      • this comment is @jwl Feb 27, 2009 at 2:43 pm…

  2. Wajsman is a first class intelligenceand the Liberal Party is very fortunate to have him available. Look at his work, his published writings and whatever your political [preference, you will find his opinions to be principled and inspiring.

  3. Quote from the article: ” “But now, I’m going to finish this. It’s enough. I’m a leader, not fodder for people’s careers” he says of Christian Paradis.”

    Sounds to me he is acutely aware of the character assassination of Stephane Dion, and he is not going to be one to be messed with. Can’t say I blame him–whether or not one liked Stephane Dion or not, the smear campaign against him was far, far beneath any sort of dignity that any political party should maintain for itself, and that was the first and most obvious reason I turned against the Conservative party for good.

    Mr. Wajsman is quite justtifed. This gentleman is NOT going to roll over and play dead.

  4. With all the money they’re shoveling out the door, how long before the Conservatives have their own scandal that dwarfs Adscam? You can’t possibly increase government spending that quickly without some of that money ending up in the hands of crooks. There are plenty of firms that feast on government contracts in good times and bad. These firms are in perfect position to take full advantage of the “stimulus”. With a governing party tripping all over itself trying to find “shovel-ready” projects, and the Opposition parties all screaming, “NOT FAST ENOUGH!!”, how can we possibly think that Adscam or Schreiber-Mulroney represents the height of government-sponsored corruption. They are but drops in the historical bucket. We’ll never get it of course. Ever-expanding government means ever-expanding scandals. We seem to like it that way.

    • hey, you don’t go from $13B surplus to now what $84B deficit in 4 months (remember PM Stephen swallowed that “no deficit” response to May during the Oct 08 debate).

      and the conservs have corruption built in: Flaherty and Baird were part of the Mike Harris (Eves–strawman) $5.6 deficit scandal that Ontario is still dealing with. they are trying to remake this country in their own small fallow image.

      • $5.6B* deficit budget* scandal

  5. Having said that, I’ve always felt the banned list – after the first few obvious names – was nothing more than a bunch of red herrings. Why would Martin put more legitimate Adscam players on the list than he absolutely had to? It would only provide the media and the police with more avenues of investigation. Better to throw a bunch of decoys onto the list and let it come to a dead end. His appearance on the list is probably an indication of his innocence.

    • the thing about former PM Martin, though i disliked him as PM, is that he at least had an open public inquiry; unlike the attempts to obfuscate, delay, and undermine the current Mulroney-Schreiber situation.

      and let’s not forget conservatives, seperatists, and a bureaucrat were charged and jailed; and one former Liberal recently was charged–he is former because he was kicked out appropriately. Adscam began with Mulroney and was largely the fault of greedy advertising execs.

  6. Braiden Harvey Says – Have we met before!!! Thanks

    Braiden Harvey

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