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April 14, 2005
Martin Runs From A New Adscam Connection

Canadian PM Paul Martin refused to answer questions regarding his earlier assertions that he barely knew of Claude Boulay when new testimony shows that he met with Boulay over lunch at least once. Instead, Martin used his Question Period rebuttal time to change the subject to Canadian health care, a tactic that the PM will likely employ during any election challenge in the near future:

The most controversial comment came inside the House of Commons. Jason Kenney, a Conservative MP from Calgary, said Mr. Martin may have perjured himself when he testified before the sponsorship inquiry that he did not know Claude Boulay, former president of the advertising firm Groupe Everest, very well.

"There is now testimony that the Prime Minister may, frankly, have perjured himself, that he may have had lunch with Mr. Boulay, one of the principal scamsters in the ad scam," Mr. Kenney told MPs during another raucous session of Question Period.

Groupe Everest was one of the largest recipients of sponsorship contracts.

Mr. Kenney's allegation flowed from the testimony of a former lobbyist for Groupaction, Alain Renaud, who said he witnessed a conversation between Mr. Martin and Mr. Boulay over lunch at a Liberal convention.

Earlier, Mr. Harper asked the Prime Minister repeatedly to acknowledge the incident.

Mr. Martin did not answer directly, pointing instead to his testimony at the commission, in which he said Mr. Boulay was an acquaintance.

He also took the opportunity to accuse Mr. Harper of wanting to privatize medicare after former Reform Leader Preston Manning and former Conservative premier of Ontario Mike Harris held a news conference yesterday to unveil a proposal to scrap or seriously amend the Canada Health Act.

Whether or not Martin committed perjury depends on many variables, including the exact language of the question posed and the exact language of the answer provided. Perjury, at least in American courts, is a notoriously difficult charge to prove, as the state must demonstrate that the defendant knowingly provided false testimony in a substantial matter for the purposes of evasion; it's not as easy as it sounds, as those who watched Bill Clinton twist in the wind will recall.

Martin has more to worry about than a perjury charge with Renaud's testimony about Boulay, however. One of the constant themes of the Liberals in the past few weeks was the argument that the corruption involved only the "old guard" Chrtien clique of Liberals. Martin has gone to great lengths to distance himself from his predecessor, even though as Finance Minister he should have had responsibility for the proper spending of the monies in question. However, Renaud now provides a direct link between Martin himself and the upper echelons of the corruption if the meeting can be verified. Groupe Everest and Claude Boulay have been deeply implicated in the scam; Boulay allegedly arranged for double-billing to help launder more money out of the Sponsorship Program, as an example.

If Martin had lunchtime tete-a-tetes with Claude Boulay and later tried to deny ever knowing him, it provides a solid link between the current government, and the current Liberal ruling class, and Adscam. Martin may have been able to answer probing questions in the Commons from Conservatives while the focus remained on Chrtien, but this could prove fatal to his career and his party and Martin knows it. Don't expect to hear anything more about Groupe Everest and Claude Boulay from the PM in the future, unless it's to talk about how Boulay remains so healthy through the use of Canada's comprehensive medical-care system.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 14, 2005 6:57 AM

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» step one from Dust my Broom
Our good Captain, still on the bloodtrail of this wounded deer points out Martin is following step one in the liberal playbook and is changing the subject instead of defending himself... [Read More]

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