Justice Gomery has refused to step down following the petition from Jean Chretien's lawyers. The former Prime Minister was concerned about unethical comments made by the judge in December. Gomery even acknowledged that the comments were inappropriate, but insisted they did not disqualify him from serving. Gomery went so far as to blame the comments on his inexperience with the media.
Mr. Gomery has, conveniently, overlooked the fact that he is offering up a ridiculous reason for immoral and unethical behaviour. Those comments suggest that Gomery clearly has already begun to form an opinion in the case. Gomery outright stated that he was beginning to 'reach some conclusions about the program' -- months before the conclusion of testimony. Still, Gomery had the audacity to insist that he was un-biased.
"After giving the matter careful consideration, I am firmly of the opinion that a reasonable, well-informed and fair-minded person understands the difference between committing an error and being biased."Unfortunately, Mr. Gomery seems to have admitted that the comments were out of line, not the sentiments behind them.
Chretien's lawyers are likely to appeal to the Federal Court and have 30 days to do so. In either case, Chretien will testify before the commission next Tuesday.
This was not the only news on the sponsorship inquiry today. Word leaked out from the office of the Minister of Public Works that the budget for the Gomery Inquiry was jumping from $20 Million to $60 Million -- significantly more than the annual budget of the program it is investigating.
Jean Chretien's Liberal government instituted the program in an effort to stem the tide of Quebec nationalism. Former Minister of Public Works Alfonso Gagliano stands by the program 100%, saying it was critical for national unity.
Stephen Harper's Conservatives are desperate to gain political capital in any way they can. The opposition has been the major driving force behind inquiry, complaining to the media at every opportunity and accusing the Liberals of a coverup. Sadly, Paul Martin has capitulated entirely to his political foes. Rather than stand up and fight for a program which was designed to hold the country together during a period of great divisiveness.
If Martin had stood up to the pressure this program would have become an accepted part of government policy. Instead, the Prime Minister ran from the legacy of his predecessor; creating a firestorm of controversy, hurting the reputation of his party for years to come and damaging national unity.
And now, we're spending $60 Million to destroy the reputation of one of our greatest leaders ever and parading the ills of our nation for all to see. Gomery Pyle...