Canada’s sponsorship scandal is probably the worst corruption scandal in the nation’s history. Today, the report of the Gomery Commission of inquiry has ben released.
The current prime minister, Paul Martin, was Finance Minister in the government in which the scandal took place. Martin, however, is not fingered as responsible for the scandal.
Martin’s government could be threatened, however. It is a minority cabinet, and it survived by just one vote a confidence motion last spring when it struck a one-off deal on the federal budget with the New Democratic party and some individual independent MPs. The opposition consists of the Conservative party and the separatist Bloc Quebecois. Because the scandal concerns federal-Quebec relations, there is likely to be a new push from the opposition to force an election.
This is an excellent opportunity for the NDP to push on one of its core issues: proportional representation. The NDP is grossly under-represented and the Bloc Quebecois is over-represented by the current first-past-the-post system. The Liberals themselves are also over-repersented, being just short of a majority of seats despite only 36.7% of the vote in the last election.
Background on the scandal is here. The short story is that the Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chretien sponsored a campaign to raise the profile of the federal government prior to one of Quebec’s separatist referenda. Public money went into accounts it should not have gone into, and the Gomery Commission recommends some harsh penalties for those most directly involved. Although it says Chretien is not one of the politicians who should be banned from party politics for life, it does say he and his chief of staff must be held accountable.