Former prime minister Jean Chrétien will get hit with a finding of blame by Mr. Justice John Gomery today, but Prime Minister Paul Martin will not, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Among those receiving a negative finding alongside Mr. Chrétien will be former bureaucrat Chuck Guité, former minister of public works Alfonso Gagliano, Liberal fundraiser and Chrétien supporter Jacques Corriveau, and Mr. Chrétien's long-time chief of staff, Jean Pelletier.
As finance minister, Mr. Martin was involved in the 1996 decision to boost Mr. Chrétien's national-unity reserve by $50-million a year — a discretionary fund that was used to create the sponsorship program. Judge Gomery likely believed Mr. Martin's assertion that he was not aware of details of how the money was spent.
What a backhanded exoneration for Paul Martin! He wasn't complicit, merely incompetent!
Not asking why Chretien needed the slush fund makes him negligent as finance minister. Not knowing what's going on within the Quebec wing makes him even more negligent as a politician.
Yet he will stand up in the House today and claim that he's been cleared, that it's all the fault of the previous government, and that once Gomery makes his recommendations in February, he will implement them to the letter.
He will claim that it would be unfair to bring down this government because of his predecessor's sins, which he is working to remedy.
Will the Canadian people buy it?
More importantly at this juncture, will Jack Layton buy it, and how much will it cost the Liberals for him to suspend disbelief and keep propping up the government?