Saturday, January 07, 2006

Martin: No Option For Canada

John Turner's brief tenure as prime minister ended when he told the Canadian people in a live TV debate that he had no option.

Paul Martin's may end because he had an option--nearly five million of them, in fact, that will send him along with the paper work into the dumpster:

Canada's auditor-general did not make much headway in the case. Neither did Quebec's chief electoral officer.

But the secret of how a shadowy federalist group, Option Canada, spent $4.8 million in the lead-up to the 1995 referendum might lie in a box of documents found near a Dumpster at a suburban shopping mall in the fall.

On Monday, Quebec writers Normand Lester and Robin Philpot plan to publish a new book, Les secrets d'Option Canada, that details the information found in that box and also includes copies of the papers.

"We obtained all the accounting documents of Option Canada," Philpot said yesterday. "We decided (the book) is best way to make things known."

The authors would not reveal who left the papers near the Dumpster.

They wouldn't even say in which suburb they were found.


Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, who has tried for years to obtain clarifications on Option Canada - an organization set up shortly before the referendum by the Canadian Unity Council to promote federalism in Quebec - said he is delighted.

"For a few years, people have been telling me, 'Gilles, let it go. We've never gotten anywhere with that,' " Duceppe said. "So this morning I am very happy to hear this. You have to be stubborn and sometimes, you see, you are right."

Duceppe recalled that the Bloc started asking questions about Option Canada in 1997. Then federal auditor-general Denis Desautels tried to get answers about Option Canada as well, but the trail went cold when pertinent documents could not be found. Quebec's chief electoral officer at the time, Pierre F. Cote, hit the same roadblock.

The sovereignty movement believes Option Canada was the source of funding for the pro-Canada rally in downtown Montreal and that money amounted to an illegal contribution to the No side under Quebec's referendum law.

Yesterday, Martin defended Option Canada and its president, Claude Dauphin, who served as one of his top aides when he was finance minister. Option Canada has since disbanded.

Paul Martin tried to get away from Adscam by declaring himself an innocent bystander in the whole affair. Think about how implausible that sounds: Montreal's senior cabinet minister, in charge of the public treasury, running an endless stealth campaign to oust Jean Chretien, taking over the entire apparatus of the Liberal Party, suddenly had no idea where hundreds of millions dollars went missing on the critical national unity file.

No one believes that, as a matter of practical politics, even if the Gomery report didn't find any direct involvement.

But Option Canada may be the missing link between Paul Martin and Adscam that not even the media and law enforcement can ignore.

And it will only confirm in many Quebecois' minds the contempt the Liberal Party has for them, to think that their loyalty can be bought by waving the flag at a few rallies and sticking up a few billboards.

Source: Montreal Gazette

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