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May 10, 2005
Corbeil: Money Funded Covert Campaign Office

Former Liberal activist Benoit Corbeil continued his testimony at the Gomery Inquiry today, revealing the covert campaign that Adscam money funded for the Grits. Corbeil also started talking about other scandals that so far have not found much resonation with Canadians:

The federal Liberals ran their 2000 election campaign in Quebec with two parallel staff only one of which was on the payroll at their Montreal headquarters, the sponsorship inquiry was told Tuesday.

Former Quebec wing boss Benoit Corbeil said then-public works minister Alfonso Gagliano ran a team of 30 fake volunteers who included ministerial aides as well as lawyers and engineers. ...

There were two sections at the headquarters there was the registered section, where I worked, and there was the unregistered section, Mr. Corbeil told the inquiry.

Anyone who says they weren't aware of it ... either they've lost their memory or they aren't telling the truth. Can I be any clearer?

Mr. Corbeil said the parallel campaign office included some of the nine workers he singled out Monday as having been paid from a $50,000 cash donation by ad man Jean Brault.

He named the same aides as yesterday as participating in the parallel campaign, which allowed the Liberals to bypass campaign-fund limits and regulations. Pointing out Gagliano as the leader of this effort connects him even further into the illegality of the party activities. However, when Corbeil started discussing other issues, Gomery quickly cut him off:

Under cross-examination by his lawyer, Guy Bertrand, Mr. Corbeil also began to expand Tuesday on allegations he made in media interviews that a powerful Liberal network controlled sponsorships, judicial nominations and other major government decisions.

But inquiry judge John Gomery cut him off, saying the subject was outside the commission's mandate.

One has to wonder why Gomery would consider that outside the mandate. Obviously, Adscam has its roots in Liberal Party conspiracies to launder cash and commit electoral fraud. Why would that be wholly separate from contract fraud (also an element of Adscam) and patronage? Perhaps the expansion might make the Gomery Inquiry take a few weeks longer for expanded testimony, but that at least could kick-start a proper investigation into these other allegations.

Now that Corbeil has mentioned it in testimony, expect Harper and the Tories to ask about it during the next question period. It should take its place in the debate over the no-confidence motion that Harper narrowly won this afternoon as well.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 10, 2005 7:48 PM

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» Did the judge know? I call for the Oxner Commission from Angry in the Great White North
The Gomery Inquiry's mandate does not extend to cover judicial appointments. We might need another inquiry, and I'd like to suggest some details. [Read More]

Tracked on May 10, 2005 8:53 PM

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