Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I think I forget

Seems the Liberals have rather bad memories indeed or do you think they're just plain liars. From the Globe and Mail:

Ad executive Claude Boulay argued yesterday that Paul Martin's command of the French language isn't good enough for him to have written a gushy letter that opposition critics cited as proof the Prime Minister has been cozy with the Liberal-friendly Quebec businessman.

Testifying before the Gomery inquiry into federal sponsorships, Mr. Boulay also played down his contacts with some of the key figures in the controversy, contradicting documents and past testimonies.

Mr. Boulay said, for example, that he didn't remember eating with Jean Carle, a confidant to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, even though Mr. Carle's expense accounts report a meal together when Mr. Carle was a vice-president at the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Mr. Boulay was adamant, however, in saying he didn't have close ties to Mr. Martin and flatly denying he had petitioned Mr. Martin for a tourism promotion scheme called Attractions Canada, the single largest project under the sponsorship program.

Attractions Canada was initiated by Mr. Boulay's ad agency, Groupe Everest. Groupe Everest handled a total of $67-million in contracts under the sponsorship program, helping Mr. Boulay earn more than $6-million in declared revenues and $5-million in undeclared capital dividends, according to documents filed at the inquiry.

Attractions Canada was supposed to become self-financing but it got federal funds for six years, drawing in a total of $27-million, before it was cancelled by Ralph Goodale when he became public works minister in 2002.

Documents filed at the inquiry show that by the time it was called off, Attractions Canada got a $3.5-million annual budget, with items such as a $300,000 annual competition to announce winning tourist attractions, $70,000 for "development of a proposed partnership with Burger King" and two permanent Everest staffers who said they clocked 3,801 hours of work.

Jean-Marc Bard, chief of staff for Alfonso Gagliano, the public works minister from 1997 to 2002, previously told the inquiry that Mr. Boulay called regularly on specific files, such as renewing funding for Attractions Canada. And Mr. Bard's former secretary testified that Mr. Boulay phoned at least once a week.

"Listen, it's possible but I don't have a recollection," Mr. Boulay said yesterday [. . .]

"It's very possible I sat down with Mr. Martin for coffee," Mr. Boulay testified yesterday.
And many others besides no doubt.
In one of the odder tidbits coming out of the inquiry, Mr. Boulay said he once paid Chuck Guité $27,000 so the retired bureaucrat, who used to run the sponsorship program, could build Mr. Boulay a wine cellar and stock it.