Canada court rules sponsorship scandal commissioner was biased against ex-PM

[JURIST] The Canadian Federal Court [official website] ruled in two separate opinions Thursday that media comments by Quebec Justice John Gomery [CBC profile], who led the inquiry into the sponsorship scandal [CBC backgrounder] involving the Liberal Party [party website] and the administration of former prime minister Jean Chrétien [official profile], indicated bias against Chrétien [opinion, PDF] and his chief of staff Jean Pelletier [opinion, PDF]. The court also set aside a portion of the inquiry's findings, including a conclusion by Gomery that Chrétien and Pelletier had erred in their oversight of a sponsorship program, in which millions of dollars were given to advertising agencies friendly with the then-ruling Liberal Party, in return for little or no advertising work. In rebuking Gomery and setting aside a substantial portion of his report on the scandal, Judge Max Teitelbaum [official profile] wrote:

I am convinced that an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically and having thought the matter through would find that the Commissioner’s statements to the media during the Phase I hearings, after the release of the Report and upon his retirement, viewed cumulatively, indicate that the Commissioner prejudged issues under investigation and that he was not impartial toward the Applicant. The nature of the comments made to the media are such that no reasonable person, looking realistically and practically at the issue, and thinking the matter through, could possibly conclude that the Commissioner would decide the issues fairly.
CBC News has more. The Globe and Mail has additional coverage.

Gomery's first and second reports [text and materials], released in November 2005 and February 2006 [JURIST reports], outlined the results of his judicial commission of inquiry [official website] into the Canadian scandal and included recommendations for controlling prime-ministerial power. The investigation began after Liberal Party Prime Minister Paul Martin, Chretien's successor, acknowledged allegations [JURIST report] of money laundering and kickbacks and took full responsibility for the misuse of public funds. After the reports has been issued, Gomery criticized [JURIST report] the ruling Conservative Party [party website] for ignoring his recommendations on limiting government corruption and abuse of power. In June 2007, a former Canadian advertising executive was sentenced to 42 months in prison [JURIST report] for bilking the government of almost $1.6 million as part of the scandal.

 

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