Ad executive Claude Boulay argued yesterday that Paul Martin's command of the French language isn't good enough for him to have written a gushy letter that opposition critics cited as proof the Prime Minister has been cozy with the Liberal-friendly Quebec businessman.
Lie #1: Paul Martin has lived, worked, and politicked in Quebec for the past forty years. If his French weren't fluent, he'd never have got elected dogcatcher.
Mr. Boulay said, for example, that he didn't remember eating with Jean Carle, a confidant to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, even though Mr. Carle's expense accounts report a meal together when Mr. Carle was a vice-president at the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Lie #2: If everybody else lies, the expense accounts don't. Ask George Radwanski.
Mr. Boulay was adamant, however, in saying he didn't have close ties to Mr. Martin and flatly denying he had petitioned Mr. Martin for a tourism promotion scheme called Attractions Canada, the single largest project under the sponsorship program.
Attractions Canada was initiated by Mr. Boulay's ad agency, Groupe Everest. Groupe Everest handled a total of $67-million in contracts under the sponsorship program, helping Mr. Boulay earn more than $6-million in declared revenues and $5-million in undeclared capital dividends, according to documents filed at the inquiry.
Lie #3: Claude Boulay had been lobbying Paul Martin for sponsorship money as far back as 1994.
Still, a lawyer for the inquiry suggested that a Feb. 18, 1994, letter to Mr. Boulay from Mr. Martin, then the finance minister, could form the basis for more questions about whether the ad executive benefited from his government contacts.
In the letter, the original honorific "Monsieur" has been crossed out and replaced by a handwritten "Cher Claude."
In the letter, Mr. Martin compliments Mr. Boulay and says the services offered by the ad executive could be of interest to one of the government's regional economic agencies for which the finance minister was responsible at the time, the Federal Office of Regional Development - Quebec.