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Sponsorship firm gave to ministers

(PoliticsWatch posted February 13, 2004) OTTAWA - The Conservative Party is asking Prime Minister Paul Martin to suspend two cabinet ministers who received campaign donations from a firm that was implicated in Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report detailing a $100 million misappropriation of funds from the sponsorship program to Liberal-friendly ad firms. 

Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew received $2,500 from Groupe Everest for his 1997 campaign and Government House Leader Jacques Saada received $500 from the same firm in 97. However, this was before rumours about problems at the sponsorship program had even began.  

"Yesterday, the prime minister said the real question is what happened to the people who got the money," said Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer in the House. "Well some of those people are still sitting in his cabinet.

"Will the prime minister take action against his members or ministers who received this money that was stolen from the public through this scandal and funneled through their campaign? Yes or no?" 

Public Works Minister Stephen Owen reacted strongly to the request. 

"This is getting to a very low level of reasonableness. There is no connection been shown between donations given to members of this party and the sponsorship moneys," said Owen.

He said if there is evidence of that then Jaffer should bring his allegations to the public inquiry or the public accounts inquiry that the prime minister has called to probe the scandal. 

Pettigrew has been a member of cabinet for both Martin and former prime minister Jean Chretien since 1996. Saada was first elected in 1997 and was appointed to cabinet for the first time in December of last year. 


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