Shooting the Messenger

Till Death Do Us Part

The Betrayal Of Joe Clark

Joe Clark betrayed me and he, in turn, was betrayed by those who convinced him that betraying me was the right thing to do. Lucette was in Montréal at a government-sponsored conference at the Place Victoria Hotel where she recognized Denis Beaudoin. Beaudoin was Special Assistant to the Right Honourable Joe Clark. She introduced herself as my wife and pointedly asked him what had they done to her husband? (“Veux-tu bien me dire qu’est ce qui c’est passé?”)

Denis Beaudoin, perhaps taken aback, was extremely forthcoming. The following is my understanding and interpretation of what she repeated to me. .

Mr. Clark would have liked to help your husband but he had an understanding with Massé that he would not interfere with his running of the department. He still blames them (Foreign Affairs) for his disastrous trip (the trip around the world he took as Opposition Leader where they lost his luggage) and needs their co-operation.

The conversation ended with a promise that they would extract some payback for what had been done to me.

If it’s any consolation, the career of those responsible for what happened will suffer a setback.

And they did, but friends in high places would make it up to at least one of them. I was in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market when I ran into a former manager with the Financial and Accounting Division of Foreign Affairs, the division where Post Accounts was located. My first car had been a 1950s vintage Volkswagen. There was a gathering in the market that day for a Volkswagen fan club of which he was a member. He asked if I wanted to see the club's bug collection. I did.

As we walked over to the area where the cars were on display, he asked if I was aware that Dave Gordon had retired. I wasn’t. He said they often played golf together and that he was enjoying his retirement. Did he want to rub it in? I don’t think so. He enquired if I knew that, upon retirement, Gordon had been given a substantial bonus to make up for lost promotions because of my discoveries.

I gave no indication of how disappointed I was that Foreign Affairs would again, when it thought no one was looking, pick the taxpayer’s pocket to reward one of its own for, according to former Ambassador Raymond Chrétien, “taking a bullet for the department.” I sent an advanced copy of chapters (in the first edition where the ambassador is mentioned) to Chrétien. I owed him that much for the things he said about me in his report to Massé. He called me at home and we had a very pleasant conversation. We talked for almost an hour.

The events described in my book were milestone events for me; not so, obviously, for the ambassador. He had no recollection of these events until I mentioned that the story was about me. In the first edition of Shooting the Messenger - A Whistleblower’s Tale, I refer to the protagonist in the third person, leaving the reader guessing. About halfway through our conversation, he asked if I would tell him the name of the Foreign Affairs' whistleblower. When I did, a light went on: “You mean you are the guy who discovered that posts were not returning millions of dollars to Ottawa?”

The conversation was almost entirely in French, except when I asked what he thought of Gordon getting a bonus upon retirement. “He took a bullet for the department,” he said. I asked former Ambassador Chrétien if he thought it was fair that the man at the center of my controversial firing got a boost to his already generous pension while I lost my job and my meager pension was taken away.

He agreed that it was not fair, but what can you do? He wasn’t in government anymore and would rather not get involved. He suggested I get in touch with Denis Comeau, another ambassador keeping busy between diplomatic assignments as Inspector General for Foreign Affairs, Chrétien’s old position when I first met with him. I wrote Ambassador Comeau. Nothing came of it.

If Gordon didn’t order my firing—the inference that can be drawn from the ambassador’s use of the English expression “he took a bullet for the department”—then who did? Gordon said under oath that terminating me was his decision. Perhaps, but as a simple director he could not have gotten an Assistant Deputy Minister to short-circuit the normal disciplinary process and terminate me forthwith, and neither could his boss Director General Dan Bresnahan. Only Joe Clark or Deputy Minister Marcel Massé were in the position to do that. Denis Beaudoin's admission rules out Joe Clark. That leaves only Marcel Massé, the man who, in a later incarnation as Minister, gave us the Sponsorship Scandal.

In testimony before the Gomery Commission, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien informed the committee that the suggestion for the sponsorship slush fund came from Marcel Massé. Go figure!

Right after the referendum, I asked Marcel Masse (sic), then Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, to chair a cabinet committee to make recommendations to me on an action plan for national unity.

After accepting Massé’s suggestions, the former Prime Minister made him President of the Treasury Board. If, instead of letting Massé make an example of me, Joe Clark had made an example of Massé, the following may never have happened:

The Auditor General of Canada has confirmed serious problems in the Federal Government's management of its Sponsorship Program for a four-year period beginning in 1997. Most significant was the widespread non-compliance with the rules, which extended to five major Crown corporations and agencies, according to Sheila Fraser in her Report tabled today in the House of Commons.

In that four-year period, the Sponsorship Program consumed $250 million of taxpayers' money, and more than $100 million of that amount went to communications agencies in fees and commissions.

Office of the Auditor General of Canada, News Release, Ottawa, 10 February 2004.