A nasty business: Memories of Gomery (IV) - Macleans.ca
 

A nasty business: Memories of Gomery (IV)


 

I spent several weeks in Montreal covering the Gomery commission hearings in 2005. Despite my earlier posts today, which detail shoddy work by the Gomery crew, it is true that anyone who sat through those hearings could only shake his head at how sleazy the sponsorship scandal was. Here are three of my pieces from that period.

The question is not whether the sponsorship program was a nasty business. It had already been exhaustively demonstrated, long before Sheila Fraser’s final audit, that it was. The question is not whether there was criminal wrongdoing. The courts have established that there was. The question is whether John Gomery’s commission of inquiry substantially added to the sum of human knowledge or the balance of universal justice during a year and a half of expensive, media-saturated work.

As Judge Gomery’s own contrite expression yesterday demonstrated, the answer to that one is not nearly as clear.


 
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A nasty business: Memories of Gomery (IV)

  1. Where’s Memories (III)?

  2. Incorrectly stamped so you couldn’t see it on Inkless. Should be there now.

  3. *winces palpably* The whole thing was a mess.

  4. I don’t have the resources or job that allows me to hunt through the files, but I do seem to recall a LOT of new information that came out in testimony, even unchallenged testimony in fact (so we don’t need to question it because of Gomery’s obvious bias), that was new, that was not known by anyone including Sheila Fraser, and that revealed the depths of the sleaziness under Chretien’s Liberals. You know, brown envelopes, how the scam actually worked, who was giving instructions and supervision from the PMO, Guite’s role, etc.

    Chretien’s response – let the RCMP handle it – was a good response for his reputation and the Liberals, but we expect our politicians and those they supervise to have a higher standard than mere non-criminality. The inquiry was set up to uncover the extent of the corruption and it did.

    The conduct of the inquiry was a mess (and in your efforts to mock the inquiry and the intent of the inquiry you’ve forgotten the real clown of the circus that was the whole Myriam Bédard. Her testimony, and the credence given to it by Gomery alone should have resulted in a suspension of the hearings!). But that doesn’t mean that the inquiry wasn’t justified nor that it was useless (wasteful, waste of time, yes; useless, no).

    The irony of Teitelbaum’s ruling is that Chretien and the Liberals come of very light. He said Chretien did not know anything about the scandal and cast no more blame on Chretien then Chretien had already accepted upon himself.

    But at least Chretien managed to do what the Conservatives have been unsuccessfully trying to do for weeks: change the news channel from Dion’s Green Shift the Tories lack of any environmental plan, and get it back on Liberal corruption and arrogance.

  5. Sorry, missed a few words:

    The irony of Teitelbaum’s ruling is that Chretien and the Liberals come of very light IN GOMERY’S REPORT. He said IN THE REPORT THAT Chretien did not know anything about the scandal and cast no more responsibility on Chretien then Chretien had already accepted upon himself

  6. Ted writes:

    I think you make a very sound point here Ted, that we ought to expect politicians and public servants to have a higher standard then not non-criminality. But I think that I would attempt to nuance a bit where you take it.

    While the former PM’s claim that the RCMP should be left to investigate corruption may have been self-serving, I am not sure it is not the right approach. They are the appropriate body to investigate criminal activity and to take action against it.

    Rather then deem further inquiry as necessary to determine the extent of corruption (which the RCMP could and should handle), I would think that further inquiry of interest to our elected and non-elected officials would be investigation as what the mechanics of how that corruption occurred, how it was detected when it was, if it could have been detected earlier, are there systems and processes that may make such corruption more difficult etc. While we will never achieve a system that is ‘un-game-able’ certainly our officials ought to be interested in making it as resilient as possible.

    But there too we did have the Public Accounts Committee’s investigation of the matter. Whether we see that as satisfying is open to debate. Although perhaps improving committee work is more desirable than undue costs for additional commissions of inquiry.

    All this not to try to say definitively that commissions are a mistake, but, that PW’s attempts to ask some hard questions of their use is valuable.

  7. ” investigation as what the mechanics of how that corruption occurred, how it was detected when it was, if it could have been detected earlier, are there systems and processes that may make such corruption more difficult etc. While we will never achieve a system that is ‘un-game-able’ certainly our officials ought to be interested in making it as resilient as possible.”

    You mean something like a, um, inquiry headed up by a retired judge with subpoena powers?

  8. as one option, as i left open, or as could be addressed by a parl committee that also has said subpoena powers (see Kady’s discussion thereof here: http://blog.macleans.ca/2008/06/16/why-do-i-feel-like-ive-posted-this-before/)….

    if your remaining point of differentiation – “headed up by a retired judge” – is the point of attraction…well, um, as you say, that looks a little less attractive today (not even to raise the issue of cost)…..no?

  9. “The question is not whether the sponsorship program was a nasty business. It had already been exhaustively demonstrated, long before Sheila Fraser’s final audit, that it was. The question is not whether there was criminal wrongdoing. The courts have established that there was.”

    Will someone please bring this to the attention of the Liberal party? They seem to be under the misapprehension that this exonerates them of any wrongdoing.

    VICTORY! VICTORY! VICTORY!
    At http://warrenkinsella.com/
    or
    A JOKE AND A CIRCUS: CHRETIEN’S BIG WIN AGAINST GOMERY, MARTIN
    Ibid