Feature

‘Adscam’ could bring down the government

The week's news at a glance.

Canada

The depth of corruption in the Canadian government is staggering, said Hubert Bauch in the Montreal Gazette. Testimony in the ongoing “Adscam” inquiry indicates that the ruling Liberal Party funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into its own party coffers through fake billing of advertising agencies. And the most appalling bit? The money came from a program intended to promote “national unity.” The scam started in 1995, after Quebecers came frighteningly close to voting to secede from the rest of Canada. The federal government launched a $250 million advertising-cum-propaganda effort aimed at persuading the province’s voters to stay on board. But at least $100 million of that went to “a select group of Quebec ad firms” that billed for “negligible or nonexistent work.” Some of them even gave kickbacks to the Liberals for the privilege of winning contracts. So now, the government is trying to cover up the extent of the corruption by imposing a publication ban on some of the trial testimony.

We should have been prepared for the government stonewalling, said Bruce Cheadle in The Canadian Press. When the first allegations came out, several years ago, then–Prime Minister Jean Chrétien tried to shrug them off. “Perhaps there were a few million dollars that might have been stolen,” Chrétien said. “But how many more millions and millions of dollars have we saved to the country because we have re-established the stability of Canada as a united country?”

Such logic is an insult, said Barry Cooper in the Calgary Herald. How is national unity such a great thing if it means we are all united under a bunch of criminals? Yet the government still is sounding the same dishonest theme. The public is calling for early elections, but the Liberals say we should wait until the inquiry wraps up in December. They say that what little has leaked out so far—“allegations about phony invoices, money laundering, kickbacks, crooked judicial appointments, untraceable cash donations, and party workers on the payroll of ad agencies with huge Liberal contracts”—would only help the separatists. That may be true. But so what? “If systematic corruption is the cost of doing business” in Canada, “then Quebecers will not be the only ones contemplating a pullout.”

Mike Jenkinson

The Toronto Sun

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