I've been working on the railroad: memories of Gomery (I)

Return with us now to the thrilling days of Feb. 8, 2005, when Jean Chrétien testified at the Gomery Commission on Ratifying Paul Martin’s Preferred Campaign Narrative. (All transcripts are available here.) Jacques Bernard Roy is commission lead counsel. (Not “council.” Thanks to Mark Bourrie for spelling assistance. Sigh.) His witness, Jean Chrétien, has been exhaustively pre-interviewed, his lawyers briefed on all areas of potential questioning. Or so he thought. But what’s this?

MR. ROY: So I refer you to page 873, a document
produced by Elections Canada

MR. ROY: — which gives a compilation of the data.
If you look at the top right under the heading “Contributions
and expenses”, page 873, “Contributions and expenses”, you will
see two boxes. One has a note in parentheses. It is marked
“Data as submitted”. That is the data submitted for the general
election of November 27, 2000.
If we turn to page 876, we see in fact the
contributions made by Jacques Corriveau in the amount of $1,500,
by Madeleine Corriveau $1,500 and by Pluri Design in the amount
of $2,000.
MR. CHRÉTIEN: Yes. That’s public —
MR. ROY: Okay.
MR. CHRÉTIEN: — since that time.
MR. ROY: Okay.
When we look at the financial reports of the
contributions paid and received by you, produced by the Office
of the Chief Electoral Officer, and here I refer you to page 883
from the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, and here I refer
you to page 883. As you can see, it gives the amounts of the
various contributions made by Mr. Corriveau in the context,

among other things, of the 37th general election in 2000.

And there for Mr. Corriveau in this financial report

produced at Elections Canada, the amount of Mr. Corriveau’s
contribution is $5,009.71, and not $1,500, as appeared in the
report of your official agent.
Do you have an explanation?
MR. CHRÉTIEN: No. I didn’t deal with that. There
was an official agent who signed the reports and he didn’t even
give me a list of those who had contributed. So I didn’t deal
with that. I trusted –- we had an accountant and we had an
official agent, and it was he who was accountable.
MR. ROY: If we do the same exercise for
Ms. Corriveau’s contribution at page 889, we see that according
to the official report from Elections Canada, she paid candidate
Jean Chré́tien, for the 2000 election, $5,009.71.
MR. CHRÉTIEN: Not aware of that.
MR. ROY: And if we go back to page 876, which is
based on the report of your official agent, we see that
Ms. Corriveau gave $1,500 and not $5,000.
Do you have an explanation?
MR. CHRÉTIEN: No explanation.
I am not aware of any
of that. I was not the one who dealt with that.

Well. This is going to blow the lid off everything. Clear evidence of systematic misfiling of campaign contributions to understate their amount. I haven’t checked, but my assumption is that this is the sort of unpleasantness for which prisons are built and maintained. Roy pushes his point home. “So, do you agree with me that according to the data we have before us, which after all are from reliable sources, the amounts reported in your official agent’s report are less than the contributions paid according to the reports issued by Elections Canada?”

All Chrétien can say, weakly, is that he has been taken by surprise. “I don’t know. I don’t have — look, you have been working on this for an hour. You could perhaps have presented that document to me before this morning, could you not?”

Weak. Culpable. Except it turns out Roy really should have treated this evidence like other evidence, subject to prliminary consultation with all parties, even if it would have robbed him of a little courtroom brio. Because Roy’s evidence is quite bogus. Flash forward two days to Feb. 10. John Gomery kicks the morning off:

THE COMMISSIONER: Good morning. Please be seated.
Let me get in the first word here, Mr. Finkelstein.
THE COMMISSIONER: I have had a telephone call this
morning from Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who is the Chief
Electoral Office of Canada, who has wanted to set the record
straight concerning some of the figures that were provided
concerning donations made by Mr. and Mrs. Corriveau to the
Liberal Party and to the election campaign of Jean Chrétien.
He has acknowledged that there was some sort of an
error in the search engine that produced the discrepancies
were part of the evidence on Tuesday.
So Mr. Kingsley has provided a letter explaining this
addressed to me, which I received by fax just now, and I think
it should be part of the court record — of the Commission’s
Mr. Finkelstein, since you are here, I would like you
to produce this letter in both the French and English version.
If people would like, I could read it. It seems to me it is
clear. I will read the French version:
“Dear Mr. Commissioner,
I am writing you further to the testimony of the

Right Honourable Jean Chrétien before your

Commission on Tuesday, February 8, 2005, with
respect to the contributions made by Jacques
Corriveau and Madeleine Corriveau to Mr.
Chrétien’s campaign at the time of the 2000
General Election. The exact contribution made to
Mr. Chré́tien’s campaign can be found in his
campaign report on the Elections Canada Web site
in the political financing section.
However, our site posted incorrect contribution
amounts when a search was conducted of the
reports using the names of specific donors. In
the case of Mr. and Mrs. Corriveau, the exact
amount of their contributions at the time of the
2000 General Election was $1,500 each
Yours sincerely.”
And it is signed Jean-Pierre Kingsley.
So, this will be an exhibit for the Commission.