column was published in the North
Shore News on
Mar. 28, 2001)
Chretien's current term clouded by scandal
By Leo Knight
the accusations in the House of Commons become more pointed and
the calls for the resignation of the prime minister become
louder, it is Jean Chretien who seems to have shed his coat of
Teflon, chanting the mantra: deny, deny, deny.
the scandal over money given to the Auberge Grand Mère has
unfolded, Chretien has gone from denial to stonewalling to vague
admissions to spinning and back to denial.
cannot help but wonder how much longer he can claim legitimacy
in his office.
all due respect to Stockwell Day and Joe Clark, who have been
battering down the front door of the PMO on the whole question
of Shawinigate, perhaps we need have a peek around the back door
to gain an understanding of some other aspects of the growing
1996, Louis Leblanc, a vice-president with the Quebec accounting
firm Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion, set up a meeting between Jean
Chretien and Gordon Fu of Imperial Consultants. Leblanc deals
primarily with immigrant investor funds and has extensive
Consultants has been the subject of several police inquiries
both here in Vancouver and in Hong Kong, and in fact came up
several times in the investigations of allegations made by
former foreign service officer Brian McAdam relating to the
issue of fake immigration receipts.
1996, brothers Robert and Gordon Fu were charged with trying to
bribe two immigration officials with $50,000 each. The case was
stayed by the Crown in 1998, partway through a preliminary
the election campaign, the prime minister admitted to meeting
with Gordon Fu of Imperial at Chretien's Parliament Hill office
on Feb. 28, 1996. But he brushed it off with his typical shrug,
saying in the Commons, "People from my riding and MPs come
all the time, we shake hands, we discuss things for two or three
minutes and then they go. This visit was of the same
days after the meeting, $1.75 million was invested in the
Auberge Grand Mère by a group of immigrant investors including,
according to the Canadian Alliance, Gordon Fu.
to the $615,000 loaned to the Auberge Grand Mère by the
Business Development Bank after Chretien lobbied the president
of the bank, Francois Beaudoin, a total of $2.36 million went to
the financially strapped hotel formerly owned by the prime
minister and now owned by his friend Yvon Duhaime.
of which is very interesting and decidedly suspicious. But it
becomes even more interesting when we take a look at the federal
government public accounts.
documents reveal that Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion received a
mind-boggling $3,359,282 from HRDC in fiscal year 1999-2000.
Unfortunately, the documents don't indicate what that money was
the government has been vigorously defending the prime minister,
trying to diffuse the growing scandal. They have been constantly
saying the same thing over and over again, claiming the ethics
counsellor, Howard Wilson and the RCMP have investigated and
cleared the PM.
with the RCMP first, they have not cleared the PM of anything.
They are still conducting multiple, separate investigations into
HRDC grants in the PM's riding. What the Mounties have done, in
responding to calls for an investigation by Stockwell Day and
Joe Clark, is look at the facts surrounding the BDB loan and the
meeting with Fu and say there is no basis for a criminal
Fair enough. The RCMP does not investigate conflicts of interest by federal politicians.
to Howard Wilson. Inasmuch as he reports to the prime minister
and not Parliament, one has to question his independence in all
of this. Moreover, the investment of over $1.75 million in
immigrant investor funds might well place Wilson himself in a
conflict of interest.
to becoming Chretien's ethics counsellor, Wilson was the guy who
made the rules on immigrant investor funds for the federal
calls are just starting for the prime minister to step aside,
with editorial pages in the major dailies getting on board.
wonders how much longer the PM can hold off the wolves baying
for his blood?
Perhaps we are witnessing the final chapter in Jean Chretien's political story.