Possible lawsuit resurrects Adscam
for the Liberals
[PoliticsWatch Updated 4:50 p.m. May 11, 2006]
OTTAWA — It's
More than six months after Justice John Gomery
released his fact-finding report on the sponsorship program, the
scandal that won't die appears to be coming back to bother a new
Parliament of Liberals.
Montreal's La Presse newspaper reported on Thursday morning
that government lawyers have been told to prepare for a lawsuit
against the Liberal party to recover all the money missing in the
According to La Presse, the lawyers were told to go after "all the dirty
In his report, Gomery concluded that a Liberal party organizer used
the sponsorship program as "an elaborate kickback scheme,"
that funneled money from the program through advertising agencies to
the Liberal party and its organizers.
On the same day Gomery's report was released
then prime minister Paul Martin announced the Liberal party
would pay the government $1.14 million for any ill-gotten money
received from the sponsorship program.
Then public works minister Scott Brison, now a leadership
candidate to replace Martin, said the Liberal party came up with the
$1.14 million figure because it "reflects the analysis of the facts in Justice Gomery's report."
However, the Conservatives questioned how the Liberals arrived at
the number and Stephen Harper demanded the government have
federal lawyers sue the Liberal party to recover the money.
The Tories estimate that as much as $40 million is unaccounted for
in the scandal.
"In our political system, we do not get to decide our own penalty, unless, of course, we believe we are above the law," Harper
said in November.
The La Presse story comes less than a week after a U.S. pollster
told a gathering of prominent conservatives in Kanata that they
should dig for dirt on the Liberals in order to secure a majority in
the next election.
Harper also promised during the election campaign to have the
government sue the Liberal party to get back all the missing
Although the Conservative government hasn't announced its plans to
move ahead with a suit, the La Presse story was enough to resurrect
questions about Adscam on the Hill for Liberals hoping to turn the
"I think it's a political ploy," said Liberal MP and former Tory Belinda Stronach. "I think that what the Conservatives would like to do is to continue to use this in a political way to make the Liberals look bad."
Brison told reporters Thursday that the Liberal party "paid
every cent that was received inappropriately back to the
"That was based on the findings of Justice Gomery and on the
facts and the financial analysis presented at the Gomery
Brison described the rumoured of the lawsuit as "part of an
ongoing smear campaign by the government against the Liberal
Liberal MP Denis Coderre said he did not want to comment on a
"hypothetical" question when asked about the reported
plans for a suit.
"We've been through the commission, we won't relive it again.
If the government wants to play politics with taxpayer money then
that's their thing," he said.
While the Liberals aren't happy about the Tory's plan, an NDP MP
said he was supportive if the Tories went ahead and sued the
"I don't view this as partisan," said NDP MP Pat
"I want my government to recoup every penny that was stolen
from me as a taxpayer."
Martin said he doubts the $1.14 million the Liberals paid was the
extent of what the Liberal party skimmed from the scandal.
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