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January 5, 2006
The Next Liberal Scandal Breaks

As I noted earlier today, the Globe & Mail reports that the RCMP has opened another review into Liberal Party management of government finances. This investigation makes the second major criminal inspection of Liberal governing during this election cycle, both focusing on the abuse of government funds for personal gain, and counting Adscam, the third serious circumstance of widespread corruption among Liberal leadership:

The RCMP is looking into a controversial $4.8-million grant that was awarded to a pro-Canada group at the time of the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty, officials have told The Globe and Mail.

The money went out more than 10 years ago in three disbursements to a little-known group called Option Canada, which has since been disbanded.

On Dec. 23, 2005, the RCMP quizzed two officials at the department of Canadian Heritage about the 1995 expenditure. It remains unclear to how the entire grant was used, but a source said that there are questions surrounding the distribution of an amount, believed to be $300,000.

The pending release of a book on the Options Canada financial scandal apparently jolted the RCMP into action, after more than five years of letting the issue remain dormant. Options Canada also figures into the Adscam investigation; the Gomery report notes that advertising agency BCP received $2.6 million of the funds from OC for "media and advertising related services". BCP also got $160 million of government money in 1997 and 2000, according to the Gomery Report, and made over $120,000 in donations to the Liberals in return. BCP never signed a contract for their work in handling all media contacts for the Sponsorship Programme, which Gomery says suggests that "favouritism was involved".

Now, with that important connection to Adscam and the supposed limits of that scandal to Jean Chretien, the Options Canada scandal breaks out in earnest once more, and once more we have government money flowing through a Canadian government program designed to keep Quebec in the union to the advertising group BCP. Only this time, the instrument of that money is not a Chretien crony but a Martin associate, Claude Dauphin. Dauphin claims that even though he headed Options Canada and later its descendant organization, Council for Canadian Unity, that he had nothing to do with the day-to-day management of either group. That makes it very convenient for Dauphin, since he later worked for Paul Martin during his tenure as Finance Minister -- again, very coincidentally, at the same time that Adscam took millions of dollars out of the Canadian treasury and into Liberal Party coffers and the pockets of Liberal supporters.

During this election season, that may be three coincidences too many. Options Canada could very well provide the bridge from Adscam to Paul Martin whose existence the current Prime Minister has always denied. It also will prove that rather than a limited fluke, Adscam is part of a greater pattern of Liberal corruption that includes Options Canada and the income-trust insider trading. The RCMP has its work ahead of them to keep up.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 5, 2006 7:35 PM

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