MPs appalled by sponsorship
[PoliticsWatch updated 4:30 p.m. May 16, 2007]
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
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
"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
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."
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