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PM denies Gagliano pre-judged

(PoliticsWatch posted March 5, 2004) OTTAWA -  Even though he has been recalled as Canada's ambassador to Denmark, Prime Minister Paul Martin said today that his government has not passed judgement on Alfonso Gagliano for his role in the sponsorship scandal. 

"I can tell you that no judgement has been made with respect to Mr. Gagliano," the PM said to reporters in Montreal. 

According to the prime minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham recalled Gagliano because of "reasons involving Canada's image abroad." 

Gagliano, the former public works minister who was recalled on the day Auditor General Sheila Fraser released her sponsorship scandal report, spoke out for the first time in an interview with the Montreal Gazette today, saying he feels he has been wrongly blamed for the sponsorship mess.

"I feel like [I'm] in that old cowboy movie where you're accused, charged and hanged without a jury and a judge,'' Gagliano told the Gazette. 

However, Martin said Chretien loyalists Gagliano and former Via Rail chair Jean Pelletier have "every right to look at their legal options" regarding their dismissals by the federal government.  

Martin also denied that his decision to fire Chretien appointees is creating a rift within the Liberal Party. 

"This has nothing to do with divisions in the Liberal Party," he said. 

The PM said a decision regarding the fate of Via Rail president Marc LeFrancois will be received "very soon." This morning the Globe and Mail reported that the PM plans to fire LeFrancois for Via's role in the sponsorship scandal. 

Earlier this week, Martin fired Via chair Pelletier for comments he made regarding Olympian Myriam Bedard, who says she was forced to leave Via. Mr. Pelletier's lawyer told La Presse a wrongful dismissal suit could be in the works. 

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