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May 9, 2005
Corbeil: Liberal Activists Tied To Martin Took Illegal Cash

Benoit Corbeil testified at the Gomery Inquiry today that several Liberal Party activists and bureaucrats received illicit campaign contributions, including some currently serving on Prime Minister Paul Martin's staff. Included on the list was Daniel Dezainde, named in Beryl Wajsmann's statement to Captain's Quarters last night as well:

Eight Liberal officials, including high-ranking Quebec wing executives and political staff in the current government of prime minister Paul Martin, are among people who received cash payments for the 2000 election, the Gomery inquiry has heard.

The revelation came from Benot Corbeil, the executive director of the party's Quebec wing from 1998 to 2001.

Among those whom he said got cash in envelopes for election work are Irne Marcheterre, director of communications of Transport Minister Jean Lapierre, and Richard Mimeau, a Martin loyalist who is Mr. Lapierre's special assistant for Quebec.

Another current political staffer whom Mr. Corbeil said received cash was former Quebec wing executive director Daniel Dezainde, now the press secretary of Jacques Saada, the minister for Canada Economic Development.

Corbeil partially corroborates the testimony of Jean Brault, who admitted to providing a channel for the money laundering that comprised the heart of Adscam. Brault had testified to handing over large sums of cash to Corbeil, among others, for the purpose of avoiding regulations on campaign financing as well as securing more contracts for his firm, Groupaction. Corbeil now provides the testimony linking cash payments directly to Liberals, who must now account for their failure to report the payments or face charges of conspiracy and fraud. Corbeil also testified to receiving $9,000 from Michel Bliveau in 1997 and handing it over to two Liberal ridings in Quebec, won by Denis Coderre and Yvin Charbonneau.

However, Corbeil's version of events differs slightly from Brault in that he paints Brault as the designer of the illegal payment structure, at least as far as Corbeil was involved. It doesn't necessarily discount Brault's contention that he was intimidated into making the payments, but it tends to make Brault look more involved in structuring the scheme than perhaps Brault admitted last month.

The new connections to Martin may cause more problems for the already-embattled PM. However, Martin may play it smart and simply fire anyone whose involvement in the scheme can be corroborated by two witnesses or substantiating evidence, and hope that none of the people he fires has any way to tie him directly to the payments or the management of the scheme. Nevertheless, Corbeil's testimony makes Martin's previous explanations that a small coterie of Chrtien advisors were solely responsible for all the corruption much more difficult to maintain.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 9, 2005 2:10 PM

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The list of names of people Benoit Corbeil testified took envelopes stuffed with cash. Three of them are senior staffers to cabinet ministers in Paul Martin's cabinet. [Read More]

Tracked on May 9, 2005 2:56 PM

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