Gomery inquiry

The Gomery inquiry was a federal inquiry into the so-called Quebec Sponsorship Scandal. Like any such inquiry it was conducted by a Canadian federal judge, as a prerequisite to criminal trials where parliament has found sufficient reasons to investigate. Formally the Gomery inquiry was the Gomery Commission, a Royal Commission, which extended its latitude.

The inquiry played a major role in framing the issues of the Canadian federal election, 2004 and Canadian federal election, 2006, in which the Bloc Quebecois, Conservative Party of Canada and New Democratic Party all sought to exploit the scandal and Gomery's findings which implicated the Liberal Party of Canada and the Prime Minister's Office of Jean Chretien.

Paul Martin had initiated the Commission before the Canadian federal election, 2004 in which the party he had inherited were reduced to a minority government. In spring 2005 he had sought to delay the 2006 election until the final report was ready, but was pre-empted by the election that defeated him.

The Gomery inquiry's final report of February 1, 2006, called to replace what he had called a culture of entitlement with a culture of integrity. He made several specific recommendations, which Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper characterized as "consistent with" his own plans for a Federal Accountability Act. Those mostly involved creating more arm's length relationships between the Prime Minister's Office and Crown Corporations and the civil service.

Gomery also called for complete and permanent records of every government decision.

Various critics offered that these measures would do little or nothing to prevent people intent on breaking laws, from breaking laws.


Between 1995 and 2001, the federally funded Sponsorship Program, intended to combat separatist sentiment in the province of Quebec became a vehicle for directing public funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars to political supporters of prominent Quebec Liberals.

evidence handling

Evidence arising in such an inquiry may be subject to a publication ban in order to avoid compromising a fair trial.

publication ban controversy

The alleged Gomery testimony published widely in April 2005 re: the Sponsorship Scandal for instance was subject to such a ban, though it was largely ineffective at preventing the information from reaching any but the least interested public. The testimony in that case being so damning to the Liberal Party of Canada, it may have been suppressed in part to avoid political consequences. There was however good reason to believe that such uncorroborated testimony could be damaging to individuals whose personal Privacy and Freedom of Information Act rights must be carefully balanced. For instance such factors affected witnesses:

political fallout

The political fallout was indeed extremely severe. The first real alleged evidence of corruption among Liberal insiders surfaced, with allegations of very deep corruption rumoured.

When alleged Gomery testimony was leaked by a US blog in early April 2005, it became an issue for linking Paul Martin and many in the Liberal Party of Canada with deliberate violations of Elections Canada financing rules.

The publication ban and its subsequent partial lifting was to many members of the public proof that the Commission was going to turn over rocks extremely uncomfortable to the governing party. When the allegations became fully public, this was widely believed to have created the electoral energy leading to a Canadian federal election, 2005. At least, it led Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin to make a rare prime time live TV address Paul Martin live TV address, 2005-04-21.

Martin had called the inquiry and had vowed to stand by its output. Or, as it happened, fall by them.

Martin response to allegations

In the address... please link the full text of it.

staggering cost

The Gomery Commission had cost as much by April 2005 as the whole cost of the sponsorship program it was investigating - about C$100M each.

The heightened risk that it would trigger a Canadian federal election, 2005 somewhat earlier than would be expected given other political circumstances - at a cost of C$200M - might represent many millions more in expected costs before the matter was done. Whether such elections should happen is yet another issue, see electoral reform.

Gomery Report and Recommendations

Accountability of Deputy Ministers

related issues

_Explore related issues:__ Quebec sovereignty vs. Ottawa, Canadian politics as usual, Liberal bagman Jean Brault as whistleblower of party governance and corruption, secrecy in inquiry and fair trial rights versus publication bans versus e-democracy and the blogosphere/wikiverse, auditingthe unelected who arebuying government ads, recalling the elected via snap elections vs. electoral reform

More generally related issues: governance, integrity, intellectual integrity, ecological and social indicators, transparency, accountability, honesty in politics law, political promise, prediction market