INDEPTH: SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL|
Who's who: Players
CBC News Online | Updated April 18, 2008
Former Via Rail employee Myriam Bédard gave startling testimony before a parliamentary committee looking into the scandal:
- That Canadian racecar driver Jacques Villeneuve was secretly paid $12 million from the sponsorship fund to wear a Canadian logo.
- That her domestic partner Nima Mazhari persuaded then-prime minister Jean Chrétien not to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
- That then-Via president Marc LeFrançois told her Groupaction was involved in drug trafficking.
In February 2004, she said she had been fired from a marketing job at Via after questioning the expense of Groupaction contracts.
In 1994, Bédard won two gold medals in biathlon at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. She is the first Canadian woman to win two
Olympic gold medals.
Boudria was minister of public works for five months after Alfonso Gagliano was appointed ambassador to Denmark. He was removed from the post after it was revealed that he had stayed at a luxury chalet belonging to the owner of Groupe Everest, a Quebec firm that did millions of dollars in business with the government.
Aug. 30, 1949: Born in Hull, Que.
1966-1981: Holds several positions in the federal government, including chief purchasing agent.
1971: Marries Mary Ann Morris. The couple would have two children and three grandchildren.
1976: Elected councillor for Cumberland Township, Ont.
1981: Elected to the Ontario legislature in the riding of Prescott-Russell.
1984: Elected to the House of Commons in the federal riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in Ontario.
1989: Appointed deputy Opposition whip.
1993: Re-elected and appointed deputy government whip.
1996: Appointed minister for international co-operation and minister responsible for La Francophonie.
1997: Appointed minister of state and government House leader.
1999: Earns a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Waterloo through a distance education program.
Jan. 15, 2002: Named minister of public works and government services.
May 26, 2002: Appointed minister of state and government House leader.
Dec. 12, 2003: Shuffled out of cabinet by Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Jean Brault was the president and founder of Groupaction Marketing, one of the Quebec advertising agencies implicated in the sponsorship scandal.
Brault was a special guest at a federal cabinet meeting on July 13, 1998, chaired by Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano. Cabinet documents describing the meeting were released in early April 2004.
When former Via Rail employee Myriam Bédard testified before a House of Commons committee that a Via executive told her Groupaction was involved in drug trafficking, Brault issued a statement, saying the allegation was "entirely false, without any element of proof, without an iota of truth."
Brault was charged with six counts of fraud totaling just under $2 million. He's also been named in a $41-million lawsuit filed by the government to get back some of the money awarded under the sponsorship program.
The Gomery inquiry was told that Brault asked several people to make donations to the Liberal party – and then wrote cheques to those people to cover the cost.
Brault pleaded guilty on March 2, 2006 to five of six fraud-related charges and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He is still to face trial on one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Head of Communication Coffin, a small Montreal advertising company. The company handled sponsorship deals on behalf of Public Works Canada between 1997 and 2002, worth $3.4 million.
The RCMP charged him with 18 counts of fraud for allegedly submitting $2 million in fake invoices to the government.
According to Elections Canada, Coffin's company donated $13,000 to the Liberals in 1999 and another $11,000 over the next two years.
According to invoices submitted to Public Works Canada, Communication Coffin occasionally invited the company's art director and creative director to meetings that followed the completion of contracts under the sponsorship program. They were supposed to help draft post-mortem reports. The company billed hundreds of hours of work to produce those documents.
Coffin says his company produced the required documents. But a government spokesman says the reports are not in their files.
Coffin pleaded guilty to 15 counts of defrauding the government. He was given a conditional sentence of two-years-less-a-day to be served in the community. By the time of his sentencing, he had repaid more than $1 million of the $1.5 million he had been accused of taking. However, the Quebec Court of Appeal eventually overturned his conditional sentence and ordered Coffin to spend 18 months in jail.
The former director-general of the Liberal Party of Canada's Quebec wing. Corbeil was a key organizer identified by Jean Brault as a kingpin in funnelling sponsorship money to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada.
In April 2008, Corbeil was charged with influence peddling, fraud and conspiracy against the Liberal party and the federal government between 1997 and 2000. RCMP Cpl. Luc Bessette said the charges were not directly linked to the sponsorship scandal but came from a parallel investigation.
What Justice Gomery said: Corbeil accepted cash donations and improper benefits for the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada and “contributed to the all too common perception that many of those participating in the democratic exercise of political activism are dishonest and disreputable.”
A key member of Chrétien's 1984 and 1990 Liberal leadership campaigns and fundraiser. Corriveau once hired Chrétien's son, Michel Chrétien at his firm, Pluridesign Canada Inc. Pluridesign produced billboards and posters for Liberal candidates in Quebec in the 1993, 1997 and 2000 federal election campaigns. The Gomery inquiry revealed that Corriveau reaped millions of dollars in subcontracts from Groupe Polygone. Documents released at the inquiry show that the firm received $35-million between 1996 and 2002 to promote the federal government at hunting and fishing shows in Quebec.
Dingwall was the minister of public works for more than two years in the 1990s. During his tenure, the Chrétien government brought in reforms to the federal sponsorship program, calling the move "a major step in fulfilling the commitment of the prime minister and the government to fairness, transparency and openness and to restoring public confidence in the integrity of government." Dingwall also served as minister of health and brought in a bill curtailing tobacco sponsorship.
June 29, 1952: Born in Sydney, N.S.
1974: Graduates from Dalhousie University with a B.Comm, after attending the College of Cape Breton and St. Francis Xavier University.
1974-76: Serves as special assistant to several Nova Scotia cabinet ministers.
1979: Receives a law degree from Dalhousie University.
1980: First elected to the House of Commons.
1982: Appointed parliamentary secretary for energy, mines and resources.
1984: Re-elected to Parliament.
1988: Re-elected to Parliament.
1990: Appointed chief opposition whip and house leader.
1993: Re-elected to Parliament. Appointed minister of public works, minister of supply and services, and minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
1996: Appointed minister of health.
1997: Defeated in the general election.
2003: Appointed president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.
Sept. 28, 2005: Agreed to resign his position as head of the Royal Canadian Mint, because of the media frenzy sparked by unproven allegations that he and his office made improper and excessive expense claims.
October 2005: An independent audit by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found the expenses fell within the Crown corporation's guidelines.
Paul Martin's Liberal government said it would pay Dingwall compensation legally owed to him, but a dispute arose over the amount. An independent arbitrator was asked to decide whether Dingwall resigned voluntarily and what compensation he should receive.
Jan. 19, 2006: Arbitrator George Adams' report ruled in favour of Dingwall, finding that his departure was involuntary.
Federal government was required to pay Dingwall $417,780 in compensation and $42,010 annually.
Auditor General Sheila Fraser
Since her appointment on May 31, 2001, Canada's auditor general has released report after report, documenting government misspending, excess and waste. The power of her findings relies as much on her direct, outspoken commentary as it does on the meticulous details themselves.
Journalists regularly praise her as "straight-talking," "no-nonsense," and "tough-minded," and refer to her "scathing" commentaries and her "fearless" and "far-reaching probes." Several commentators, including Alan Gregg, suggest that her strong critiques sound more like the traditional voice of the official Opposition than that of the auditor general's office.
In addition to her outspokenness, she earned a public reputation for accountability, principle, restraint and common sense.
Sept. 16, 1950: Born in Dundee, Que.
1972: Earns bachelor of commerce degree from McGill University.
1974: Becomes chartered accountant.
1981: Made partner in firm of Ernst & Young.
Early 1980s: Moves to Quebec City to learn French. Meets her husband Henri Gagnon in Quebec City where they will raise three children: Daniel, Emily and Laura.
1993: Awarded the Prix Émérite for "noteworthy service to the auditing and accounting professions."
1994: Designated "Fellow" by the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec.
1999: Joins civil service as deputy to her predecessor Denis Desautels.
2000: Becomes fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
May 2001: Appointed auditor general for a 10-year period, replacing Denis Desautels. Fraser is Canada's first female AG.
2002: Fraser's reports have already gained their scathing reputation. On the cost overruns at the gun registry, she said, "This is not the only case, but this is particularly troubling given the extent of the cost overruns, and the public interest, and controversy of the program." That year, she also warned that health-care transfer payments were not being monitored closely enough, opening the door to further waste.
Feb. 10, 2004: Fraser unleashes the current scandal, when she releases her audit of the controversial government advertising and sponsorship program. She says she finds the way the federal Public Works Department ran the program so shocking, "words escape me." She finds plenty of words in the report itself, though. She writes, "From 1997 until 31 August 2001, the federal government ran the Sponsorship program in a way that showed little regard for Parliament, the Financial Administration Act, contracting rules and regulations, transparency, and value for money."
A savvy political organizer and a close friend of former prime minister Jean Chrétien, Alfonso Gagliano was in charge of the Ministry of Public Works at a time when it was spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Canada in Quebec. When the scandal first broke over exorbitant commission fees paid from Gagliano's ministry to advertising firms with Liberal ties, Chrétien responded by removing Gagliano from cabinet and making him ambassador to Denmark.
Now, with the scandal back in the news, the Paul Martin government has fired the ambassador, taking him off the federal payroll altogether. Gagliano steadfastly denies having any knowledge of inappropriate commission fees being paid out by the ministry. On May 27, Gagliano filed a lawsuit against Paul Martin and his government for more than $4.5 million. The suit alleges wrongful dismissal and seeks compensation for damage to Gagliano's reputation.
1942: Gagliano is born in Sicily.
1958: He immigrates to Montreal, where he learns English and French.
1977: Demonstrating his burgeoning political savvy, Gagliano runs for a seat on the Montreal school board. He wins with a well-organized campaign, tightly focused on his neighbourhood's large population of Italian immigrants.
1984: Giving in to exhortations from the Liberal government, members of his community and his family, Gagliano jumps into federal politics and wins his seat against a popular Progressive Conservative candidate.
1997 to 2002: Serves as federal minister of public works and political minister for Quebec in the government of Jean Chrétien. Part of his mandate is to raise Canada's profile within Quebec following the close results of the 1995 sovereignty referendum. Under his oversight, Ottawa sponsors music festivals and sporting events in the province. Much of this sponsorship money is channelled through advertising agencies, including Groupaction Marketing Inc. and Group Everest. An earlier auditor general's report reveals that, of a $250-million budget, $100 million disappeared into ambiguous "commission fees" paid to these agencies. Another organization, Le Groupe Polygone Éditeurs Inc. received nearly $40 million to place banners and Canadian flags in its publications and at its hunting and fishing shows.
January 2002: Amid accusations of patronage, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien drops Gagliano from cabinet and appoints him ambassador to Denmark
February 10, 2004: On the day Auditor General Sheila Fraser releases her damning report on the sponsorship program, Prime Minister Paul Martin recalls Gagliano from Denmark, firing him as ambassador. He continues to defend the sponsorship program as an important part of the government's national unity strategy.
May 27, 2004: Gagliano files a more than $4.5-million lawsuit against Prime Minister Paul Martin and the government. The suit accuses them of deliberately attacking Gagliano's reputation and alleges that Gagliano was illegally and unjustly fired. He is asking for compensation for wrongful dismissal, damage to his reputation and lost revenue.
RELATED: Gagliano and Canada's other ambassadors
Mr. Justice John H. Gomery
Mr. Justice John H. Gomery of the Quebec Superior Court has been appointed to head a public inquiry into questions about the federal government's sponsorship and advertising activities following the sovereignty referendum in Quebec in 1995.
Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Gomery's appointment on Feb. 10, 2004, after the release of Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report. Martin stressed that the inquiry will be open and independent.
Gomery was appointed under terms of the Inquiries Act, which gives him the authority to hold public hearings and summon witnesses. No deadline was set for completion of the inquiry and the report, though Martin said Gomery would proceed on an "urgent" basis.
Gomery is married to Pierrette Rayle, judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal. They have four children.
Aug. 9, 1932: John Howard Gomery born in Montreal, where he attended elementary, high school and university.
1953: BA degree from McGill University.
1956: Law degree (B.C.L.) from McGill University.
1957: Admitted to Quebec bar, joined law office of Fasken, Martineau, Dumoulin. Expertise in family law, commercial litigation and bankruptcy.
1966: Becomes partner at Fasken, Martineau, Dumoulin.
1972: Named Queen's Counsel.
1982: Appointed to the Quebec Superior Court for the District of Montreal.
1983-1993: Served as president of the Comité Général des Juges de la Cour supérieure du Québec, and president of the Family Law Committee.
1999: Named president of the Copyright Board of Canada, with a three-year mandate, continuing his functions as justice of the Superior Court.
2002: Job at Copyright Board renewed for another three years.
Canada's finance minister briefly took up the public works portfolio after Don Boudria was removed from the post in 2002. While in charge of public works, Goodale made sweeping changes to the sponsorship program, including freezing federal sponsorship contracts, having public servants rather than external contractors handle the advertising budget, and opening contracts to a larger number of companies.
Oct. 5, 1949: Born in Regina, Sask.
1968-1972: Works for CBC News.
1971: Earns a bachelor of arts from the University of Regina.
1971: Earns a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
1973 to 1974: Serves as special assistant to the attorney general.
1974: First elected to House of Commons for the riding of Assiniboia.
1981-1988: Serves as leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal party.
1986: Elected to the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan.
1988: Resigns his seat in Saskatchewan and is defeated in the federal election.
1988-1993: Works as an executive in private insurance and financial companies in Regina.
1993: Re-elected to the House of Commons in the Regina-Wascana riding. Appointed minister of agriculture and agri-food.
1997: Re-elected to the House. Appointed minister of natural resources and minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board.
2002: Appointed minister of public works and government services.
Dec. 12, 2003: Appointed minister of finance.
Charles (Chuck) Guité
In an earlier auditor general's report, Sheila Fraser accused bureaucrat Chuck Guité of breaking "just about every rule in the book" when he worked on the Ministry of Public Works' sponsorship program. Guité oversaw the program from 1996 to 1999, at which time Pierre Tremblay replaced him. During his tenure, his department handed out more than $40 million a year in federal contracts to promote Canada within Quebec.
Fraser's report cited three sponsorship contracts worth $1.6 million that Guité's department awarded to Groupaction Marketing Inc. That money resulted in two incomplete reports, and another that simply disappeared. Fraser referred these suspicious deals to the RCMP for criminal investigation.
Police then have charged him with several counts of fraud.
Guité has denied "breaking every rule in the book," but admits, "We've bent them a little bit based on the circumstances." He was referring specifically to the way contracts were awarded without the usual competitive bidding process.
Guité told a Commons committee that his political bosses, including then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, directed him to use certain ad agencies when awarding sponsorship contracts. "If I had to make the decision on who got what, the list would have been quite different," he said during his testimony.
Guité also claims that all the program's decisions and actions were carried out with the knowledge and authorization of his superiors, who included Alfonso Gagliano, then minister of public works.
Guité went to trial on five fraud-related charges. In late March, 2006, he told a judge he couldn't afford a lawyer, and represented himself at the trial that began in Montreal on May 5, 2006. The court heard that he authorized more than $2 million in contracts to Groupaction Marketing Inc. without proper competition. As well, testimony revealed he also doubled the value of one contract to $500,000 without demanding any additional work. On June 6, 2006, Guité was convicted of all five charges of fraud totalling $1.5 million. He was later sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. Crown prosecutors wanted a jail sentence of three to four years for Guité. The defence recommended a two-year sentence.
Marc LeFrançois, former president and CEO of Via Rail, became the second Via Rail executive to lose his job in relation to the scandal
The auditor general's report specifically mentions the president and CEO of Via Rail Canada in connection with a complicated deal involving the Crown corporation sponsoring a television series about French hockey legend Rocket Richard.
In 1998, LeFrançois was chairman of Via. That year, the Public Works Department's Communications Co-ordinations Services Branch asked Via to help their efforts to promote Canada by sponsoring the TV series. LeFrançois told Sheila Fraser that Via first turned down the request, but then capitulated when Public Works offered to reimburse it when the department received new funding from Parliament. Via stumped up $910,000. LeFrançois told Fraser that even if Via never got its money back, it "would nevertheless have received full value for its expenditure in the form of valuable visibility on the television series."
Fraser's report slams Via for being "unable to provide us with a business case or any other analysis prepared at the time to show how the decision was made or what results were expected."
Other details about LeFrançois:
1939: LeFrançois was born in Quebec.
He attended Université Laval, and went to study at Ohio State University, at the Institut Géographique National de Paris, and the Milan Polytechnic Institute. He has taught land surveying, civil engineering and architecture at Université Laval, Université de Montréal and Université de Sherbrooke.
1973: LeFrançois founded Macyro Industrial Group, which manufactures aluminum windows and doors. LeFrançois was president and chief executive officer of Macyro until 1993, when he was appointed chairman of the board of Via Rail Canada, and on Sept. 1, 2001, he became president and chief executive officer of the corporation.
LeFrançois is a member of the board of directors of Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Foundation, and serves as an advisor to hospitals in Quebec City and Montreal.
A close aide to former Public Works minister, Alfonso Gagliano. Mignacca was in charge of organizing Gagliano's annual golf tournaments. He worked for Canada Lands before moving to Gagliano's riding office in Montreal in early 2001. The former president of Canada Lands Co., Jon Grant, accused Gagliano of trying to pressure him into hiring his friends, including Mignacca, an allegation Gagliano denied.
A key fundraiser and long-time associate of former Public Works minister and chief Quebec organizer, Alfonso Gagliano. Morselli was named by Jean Brault as a determined fundraiser who pressured him to make cash donations to the party and put election workers on his payroll.
Jean Pelletier was fired as chair of Via Rail on March 1, 2004, after insulting former Via marketing executive and Olympic gold medallist Myriam Bedard. Pelletier said she came forward with allegations of excessive sponsorship spending because she was a "pitiful" single mother who was trying to draw attention to herself. Pelletier later apologized under pressure from politicians from all parties, including former prime minister Paul Martin.
The Federal Court of Canada ordered Pelletier reinstated in November 2005, but his comeback was short-lived. Former prime minister Paul Martin stood by the original decision and fired him for a second time a month later.
The dispute eventually turned to the courts. Pelletier successfully sued the federal government for wrongful dismissal in Quebec Superior Court. In November 2007, Ottawa and the Crown corporation were ordered to pay more than $335,000 for lost salary and damage to his reputation.
Considered one of the most powerful men in Canada, Pelletier served as former prime minister Jean Chrétien's chief of staff for 10 years from 1991 to 1993 while the Liberals were in opposition, and from 1993 to 2001 when Chrétien was in power. Chrétien, who was in law school with Pelletier, appointed his friend as chairman of Via Rail in 2001.
Although Pelletier was not suspended in the original sponsorship firings on February 24, he was criticized by opposition members who suggested that the sponsorship program could not have operated without his knowledge since he was in charge of the Liberal party's unity strategy and took an active role in everything that was going on. Chuck Guité, who ran the sponsorship program, and Alfonso Gagliano, who was head of Public Works at the time, both said they had regular contact with Pelletier.
Pelletier, 69, ran for the Liberal party in 1993 but was defeated by the Bloc Québécois candidate. He was known as the Silent Executioner, the Velvet Executioner and the Elegant Executioner.
Pelletier was born in Chicoutimi and educated at the Collège des Jésuites in Quebec City, the Séminaire de Trois-Rivières, and Université Laval, where he studied law and social sciences. He worked as a broadcast journalist in Quebec City, working for CHRC, CJLR, CFCM-TV and Société Radio-Canada.
In 1959, Pelletier was appointed press secretary to Maurice Duplessis's Union Nationale government in Quebec, and was later executive secretary of the province's Historic Monuments Commission, and adviser to the provincial secretary.
In 1964, he became a securities dealer with Lévesque and Beaubien Ltd. In 1970, Pelletier became vice-president of Dumont Express and from 1973 until 1977, he was director and vice-president of Action sociale Ltée.
Pelletier served as vice-president of the Dominion Theatre Festival, director and treasurer of Théâtre populaire de Québec, director of Théâtre Le Trident on two separate occasions, national president of Scouts Canada, and director general of Centraide Québec. He also chaired the organization of the Quebec Winter Carnival in 1973.
On the municipal front, Pelletier was one of the founders of Quebec's Parti du Progrès civique in 1962. He was elected as a municipal councillor in Quebec City in December 1976, and became mayor in November 1977, a position he held until 1989. While mayor, Pelletier helped to get Quebec City's historic quarter included on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites.
Pelletier is an officer of the Order of Canada and an officer of the Order of Quebec. He is also a commander of France's Legion of Honour. In 2003 he was designated a "Grand Québécois" for his social commitment by la Chambre de Commerce de Québec.
Montreal Liberal fundraiser and communications consultant. Renaud donated more than $60,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada in the 1990s. He was put on Groupaction's payroll at the request of high-ranking Liberals, according to Jean Brault's testimony, and allegedly paid $1.1 million over a 5-year period. Brault, the former head of Groupaction, says Renaud's performance bonuses would depend on the value of federal sponsorship contracts secured by Groupaction.
A former public works official, Tremblay worked directly under Charles (Chuck) Guité, who oversaw the program from 1996 to 1999. She told the parliamentary committee Alfonso Gagliano held weekly meetings about the program with Guité, contradicting the former public works minister's testimony. Tremblay says she was one of two or three bureaucrats who managed the program; she rubber-stamped contracts without asking any questions.
"When it came to sponsorship," she told the committee, "there were no rules."
Pierre Tremblay is considered a crucial character in the unfolding story of the sponsorship scandal. When Alfonso Gagliano was Canada's minister for public works, Tremblay was his chief of staff. He moved on to become an executive director of the sponsorship branch of the department that was at the centre of Sheila Fraser's report.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has said he will take action against 14 public servants, including Tremblay. Martin has already initiated steps to fire Tremblay from his current position at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, where he has been absent on sick leave. Tremblay was given 10 days to respond to the allegations.
May 2002: Auditor General Sheila Fraser asks the RCMP to investigate the possibility of fraudulent deals within the sponsorship program. In her audit (completed two years earlier) Fraser identified Tremblay as one of a group of senior public servants who "broke just about every rule in the book" when awarding sponsorship contracts.
June 2002: The RCMP investigates Tremblay for approving payments to several Quebec advertising agencies for work that was never completed.
July 2002: Tremblay frustrates opposition members when he testifies in front of the House of Commons public accounts committee about his role in awarding contracts to three Quebec advertising firms. The hearings were secret, but at the time, Tory MP Peter MacKay described Tremblay's testimony as "unprofessional, unethical, unbelievable, illegal ... well, we'll leave that up to the RCMP."
November 2002: Tremblay leaves the sponsorship program under a cloud of controversy. He takes a new position as vice-president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
February 2004: Fraser publishes a new report documenting $100 million paid in questionable commission fees to ad companies. One of Martin's first reactions to the report is to initiate steps to fire Tremblay.
Michel Vennat was appointed chairman of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in 1998 and served as president and CEO from 2000 until he was fired March 12, 2004.
The BDC is a financial institution, wholly owned by the federal government, delivering financial and business consulting services to small businesses in Canada.
Vennat, 63, is a lawyer, academic and a Rhodes scholar who spent his career in both the public and private sector. He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1965 and then worked as a special assistant to Liberal Finance Minister Mitchell Sharp and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He also served as chairman of the Canadian Film Development Corporation and on the board of the CBC.
In the late 1970s, Vennat went to Stikeman Elliott, one of Canada's leading legal firms where many senior Liberals, including Trudeau, have worked.
Vennat was chairman of the Council for Canadian Unity from 1994 to 1996, and is an officer of the Order of Canada.
Vennat lives in Montreal. He is married and has five children.