Montreal

Ex-Option Canada director resigns after report on referendum spending

One of the key players named in the Option Canada inquiry into federal spending during the 1995 Quebec referendum has resigned from his job as the province's delegate in Toronto.

Authors who triggered investigation want federal inquiry

One of the key players named in the Option Canada inquiry into federal spending during the 1995 Quebec referendum has resigned from his job as the province's delegate in Toronto.

Jocelyn Beaudoin tendered his resignation Wednesday in the wake of retired judge Bernard Grenier's report on the Montreal-based lobby group. The report says the group illegally spent $539,000 propping up the No campaign during the sovereignty referendum.

At the time Beaudoin was director of the Canadian Unity Council, which created Option Canada eightweeks before the referendum vote on separation. Grenier's report concluded that Beaudoin was involved in spending decisions at Option Canada that led to non-authorized expenditures.

Beaudoinwas namedas Quebec delegate to Toronto in 2005. He's been suspended with salary for the last 16 months, ever since Grenier launched his investigation.

Authors say inquiry report is just the beginning

His resignation comes as the authors of a book that triggered the inquiry into Option Canada are calling for a full-scale investigation.

Robin Philpot and Normand Lester said while they're "extremely satisfied" withthe provincial inquiry's findings that Option Canada illegally spent more than half a million dollarson the No side during the referendum campaign, they believe Grenier's conclusions are just the tip of the iceberg.

"We know that we've only just lifted a corner of the veil covering the whole story of the referendum in 1995," Philpot said on Wednesday.

Philpotand Lester, who wroteThe Secrets of Option Canada, met with reporters in Montreal on Wednesday to comment on Grenier's conclusion thatthere was illegal spending during the referendum.

Grenier's findings fell short of accusations made by Philpot and Lester that $3.5 million in federal money was allegedly funnelled to the No campaign in violation of Quebec's electoral laws— and his conclusions don't carry civil liability for the five people targeted in the investigation.

But Lester said those are sufficient grounds for a full federal investigation, especially into money spent on the huge pro-Canada rally in October 1995that drew 100,000 people to Montreal on the eve of the referendum.

Grenier's report failed to track any specific spending tied to the rally.

Quebec's director general of elections asked Grenier 17 months ago to investigate allegations of misspending detailed in the book by Philpot and Lester,which was published in January 2006.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest was called to testify in camera at Grenier's inquiry. The report absolved him of any wrongdoing.

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