The First Gomery Report
This report, more commonly known as the First Gomery Report said almost everything about the federal government’s sponsorship program that occurred in the province of Quebec in the years after the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty. As most Canadians know, the near loss of this referendum spurred the federal government, under the leadership of Jean Chretien, to make an attempt to turn the tables on the separatists and prevent the rise of Quebec separatism again.
Unfortunately, for Canadian taxpayers and those in favour of a strong and united Canada, this program had a number of unforeseen consequences.
Before I give any opinion on the sponsorship scandal however, it is important to make something clear. This point, is that the majority of people from both Ontario and other provinces of our country who are members of the Liberal Party of Canada are not corrupt.
Further to that, no citizen or Conservative should think this. Lately, ministers in the current Liberal government have been making the claim that we in the Official Opposition are trying to paint the party with a single brush and they are clearly missing the point.
What the First Gomery Report into the sponsorship program has told Canadians is that there has been, in the highest levels of Liberal Party of Canada, a culture of entitlement, something that I don’t think has spread to its lower levels.
But here are the facts. The Liberal Party set up the Sponsorship Program.
The Liberal Party also ran it. The Liberal Party furthermore, used it to funnel tax dollars into partisan purposes, with the idea that what was good for the Liberal Party in Quebec was good for the country. In the process, and this has been confirmed by Mr. Justice Gomery, millions of dollars were stolen from the public treasury and used to benefit the Liberal Party.
Of course, much of the blame for this program has fallen on the shoulders of Mr. Chretien and his senior advisors.
However, since the 1993 election which brought Mr. Chretien to the office of Prime Minister, Mr. Paul Martin was his Minister of Finance. As the “Chief Financial Officer” of the country, it does not make sense that he can claim to have no knowledge of a program that was moving millions of dollars out of the coffers of Canadian taxpayers, onto the tables of restaurants in Montreal, and then into the wallets of people supposedly working to keep Canada united. It does not add up.
Quebec is very important to Canada. However this does not excuse what happened. The Gomery Report has exposed that there are, at the highest levels of the current and past Liberal governments, severe and systematic problems.
During the next election we Conservatives will argue that this culture in government can only be fixed by a change in government. The Liberals will argue otherwise. One of the things I am certain of, is that I am glad I do not have to argue in favour of Jean Chretian and Paul Martin. Good people should not have to do this.