Sponsorship Scam Rocks Canadian Government

17 February 2004

The relationship between Canada's Liberal government and its ad agencies is under scrutiny after a sponsorship scam came to light last week.

Auditor general Sheila Fraser discovered that up to C$100 million ($76m; €59m; £40m) from a C$250m sponsorship campaign promoting Canadian unity ended up at Liberal-friendly agencies in Quebec -- a move which seemingly did little to advance this cause.

Fraser declared her findings "shocking and outrageous". She claimed agencies were handed contracts without following government rules, that money was handed over in breach of regulations, and that little documentation was kept.

The scandal has left prime minister Paul Martin battling to restore trust in his government.

"Anybody who is found to have known that people are kiting cheques, falsifying invoices, anybody -- me or anybody else -- should resign," he declared

"I am mad that there are some people who clearly perverted what should have been a government program that should have done a lot of good. I am very mad that some people may have enriched themselves, and I am very determined to get to the bottom of this and punish those who were involved."

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff