Brault's tsunami of Liberal
[PoliticsWatch Updated 7:15 p.m. April 7, 2005]
OTTAWA — Minutes
after Justice John Gomery lifted his publication ban on almost all
of the testimony of Groupaction's Jean Brault, the opposition
parties in the House went after the Liberal government.
"There is mounting evidence, a mountain of evidence, that the Liberal government is involved in a criminal conspiracy of the like never seen in this country
before," said Conservative Deputy Leader Peter MacKay.
Five days of Brault's frank testimony began
pouring out in the media shortly after 2:00 p.m. ET when Gomery
ruled it would not have an impact on Brault's criminal trial.
Brault's testimony paints a picture of a
sponsorship program being operated in a subtle but systematic way to
funnel government money to the Liberal party.
Testimony and documents from Brault's days in
the witness chair show Brault made over $1.1 million in indirect
payments for money he said was destined to the Liberal party.
He said that was facilitated by dramatic overpayments made by the
sponsorship contracts he won from the federal
The donations took several forms and were in
addition to the $116,000 in donations he made legitimately over the
Brault was relaxed as he testified and provided
great detail in his stories.
How he pumped the money into the party came in
various methods, including fake invoices, paying employees whose
main job was to be available for the Liberal party, third-party
payments and old-fashioned cash payments in brown envelopes left on
Brault said all of this was done at the urging
of Liberal party officials.
His testimony is by far the most damaging to
the Liberal party the inquiry has heard.
Here are some highlights:
Fake Invoices For "The Cause"
At the inquiry, commission counsel Bernard Roy
revealed documents showing that over $400,000 was paid to the firm
Pluridesign, owned by Jacques Corriveau, a Liberal organizer and
friend of former prime minister Jean Chretien. Previous testimony at
the inquiry revealed that Corriveau was owned thousands from the
Liberal party for work he did on the 1997 campaign.
As Roy ran through the list of invoices, each
of which Brault said were fake, he was interrupted by Brault. "Mr. Roy, let me sum it up this way: All the invoices that you will see from Pluridesign to Groupaction or its
subsidiaries represent work or services which were not rendered but were paid for."
Brault testified that he wasn't even aware of
exactly what type of Pluridesign did.
He said he knew the money was destined for the
Liberal Party because they were for what Corriveau described as
When cross-examined by Liberal party lawyer Douglas Mitchell, who
suggested that Brault seemed to use a lot of fake invoices, Brault
shot back, "I started my business in '82. Until I had your client I never had any false invoices."
Brault said his contacts
with the Liberal party, with the help of a connected consultant he
kept on a retainer, Alain Renaud, opened doors for his company in
winning federal contracts.
He was a member of the
exclusive Laurier Club, reserved for the Liberal Party's largest
donors, who got to attend events with the prime minister, including
a dinner at 24 Sussex.
Brault said winning work
from the sponsorship program was directly linked to political
“Without that I think the
slice of the pie would have been very thin," he said.
Helping Liberals good
He also began to learn that
helping out when Liberal party officials asked would be
In April of 1996, Brault said he met with
Corriveau who wanted him to hire a Liberal party official for a
year, even though Brault had no need for the Liberals' skills or a
job for him.
"We began to sense what the magic formula was to be
lucky," he said. "It was to listen very carefully to some requests that the party would make."
Not helping Liberals bad
Meanwhile, Brault discovered that when he
didn't help Liberals then he would face veiled threats.
He broke down in tears on the stand as he
recounted a money dispute between himself and Renaud, who Brault
wanted to renegotiate with. Renaud was offended and demanded to see
Brault's books, which Groupaction's accountants advised
Later Renaud agreed to a new proposal from
Brault that included a $20,000 advance. Renaud promptly cashed
the cheque and then quit Groupaction and joined another firm.
A few months later, Renaud wanted back in at
Groupaction and arranged to meet Brault at a Montreal
Brault said late in the evening at the
restaurant, Renaud's cell phone rang. He handed the phone to Brault.
On the line it was Tony Mignacca, a friend of
former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano. Magnacca told him "Are you taking care of my friend
"He was talking to me in parables," Brault explained, and said
Mignacca said he had been talking to the "choo-choo man,"
who he understood to be either VIA Rail chair Jean Pelletier or
president Marc Lefrancois.
"I gather that these were the very highest up at Via Rail,"
said Brault, who had just acquired Lafleur Communications and the
Mignacca invited himself over to the restaurant
and drank with Brault
"He was singing Alain's praises and he was telling me how important it was to take Alain
back," Brault testified. "He implied that the Via account was in danger."
Prime Minister Paul Martin was not in the House
of Commons on Thursday as he was en route to attend the funeral of
Pope John Paul II.
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