Another knife thru the Liberal Party.
Chrétien wins $200,000 in sponsorship feud; PMO demands he give it back - The Globe and Mail
Chrétien wins $200,000 in sponsorship feud; PMO demands he give it back
Ottawa has to pay $200,000 in legal costs incurred by Jean Chrétien in his fight to restore his name after being blamed for the sponsorship scandal by the Gomery inquiry in 2005.
However, the Prime Minister’s Office called the ruling “disappointing,” and said the money rightly belongs to taxpayers.
It is our belief that the Liberal Party must pay back the millions of dollars stolen from taxpayers through the sponsorship scandal. We call on Jean Chrétien to give this $200,000 back to taxpayers on behalf of the Liberal Party,” PMO spokesman Carl Vallée told The Globe and Mail.
Mr. Chrétien refused to comment on the matter, as did John Gomery, the former judge who came down hard in 2005 on the former prime minister for his role in establishing the scandal-plagued sponsorship program.
Mr. Chrétien’s reputation was clearly tarnished by the final report of the Gomery inquiry, which stated he created a program that was secretive and circumvented normal administrative safeguards.
However, the former prime minister convinced the Federal Court in 2008 to strike out the negative findings against him, arguing that Mr. Gomery, through a series of public comments during the hearings, showed a clear bias. The Federal Court of Appeal later upheld the ruling, and last week, the Federal Court ruled in Mr. Chrétien’s favour on the issue of legal costs.
In his ruling, Mr. Justice François Lemieux decided to award five times more money than Ottawa was offering because of the high stakes at play.
“The appeal concerned the reputation of a former prime minister of Canada and the proper conduct of federal commissions of public inquiry. These were important and complex issues of public importance,” Judge Lemieux said.
Mr. Justice Max Teitelbaum of Federal Court ordered in 2008 that all sections of Mr. Gomery’s report dealing with Mr. Chrétien and his former chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, be considered “void.”
It was sweet victory for Mr. Chrétien who had chafed under Mr. Gomery's characterization of him as “small-town cheap,” and insisted his legacy was being unfairly tarnished.
Mr. Gomery's chief sin, according to Judge Teitelbaum, was a preoccupation with the media spotlight that led him to give interviews he should have eschewed, make comments that indicated he judged issues before all evidence was heard, exhibited bias against Mr. Chrétien, and trivialized the inquiry proceedings.
Mr. Pelletier, who is now deceased, also received $200,000 in legal costs, to be provided to his succession.