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MPs appalled by sponsorship leak 

[PoliticsWatch updated 4:30 p.m. May 16, 2007]

OTTAWA  — Opposition and government MPs on the Commons public accounts committee are angry about the leak of confidential material regarding a committee probe of potential perjury by witnesses who testified about the sponsorship program.   

Last week, the Globe and Mail reported MPs on the public accounts committee voted in private to recall three key witnesses from the committee's own 2004 investigation of the sponsorship scandal. 

The Globe reported that former Chretien chief of staff Jean Pelletier, Jean-Marc Bard, who was an aide to former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, and former bureaucrat Chuck Guite will be recalled to discuss "divergent" testimony they gave to the Commons committee's investigation and testimony later made before the Gomery inquiry. 

It is believed to be the first time in the history of Parliament that a committee has investigated possible perjury. 

The names were selected based on research conducted for the committee by the Library of Parliament. 

When the committee met in February to discuss how to proceed with the Library of Parliament's findings MPs did not discuss specific names in public for fear of besmirching the reputations of those whose testimony had been reviewed. The potential for harm of reputations was so great that the MPs decided they would meet later in private to discuss potential witnesses. 
 
The Globe story used several quotes that it "pulled" from the confidential Library of Parliament report. 

NDP MP David Christopherson raised the issue at the committee's Monday meeting. 

"Given that the government has decided that leakers need to be handcuffed and marched out of their workplace I don't think it can be left untouched that somebody on this committee decided that it was more important for them to get some media," Christopherson said of the leak.  

"At the end of the day it makes members of this committee, some members, hypocrites," he said, noting the committee had recently conducted a study on leaks by government bureaucrats.  

"We have to do better or this committee will not have the moral ground to do the work we do."

In an interview with PoliticsWatch, Christopherson admitted that while he raised the issue at committee there's not much the committee can do about the leak of the Library of Parliament report. 

"What can you do short of lining up an MP in front of a Supreme Court judge and having him swear on a stack of Bibles that they're telling the truth and didn't leak the report?"

Although the Globe printed excerpts from the report in its story, the only names that appear are the three individuals that the committee decided should be recalled. 

Conservative MP John Williams also expressed outrage at Monday's committee meeting about the leak. 

"I was astounded to read this article in the Globe and Mail and the amount of confidential information that it divulged," he said. 

Williams recommended that committee chair and Liberal MP Shawn Murphy "poll" committee members to find out who leaked the report. 

In an interview with PoliticsWatch on Wednesday, Murphy said for the time being there is nothing he or the committee can do. 

"I would do something if I found out who did it, but no one has come forward," he said. "It is a concern to myself and all of the members of the committee."

"Somebody breached the ethics of Parliament." 

: Related Links

> MPs to pursue perjury investigation of Adscam players 

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