A big win for "da liddle guy from Shawinigan"
Former Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien has scored a major victory! Federal Court Judge, Max Tietelbaum has ruled that the Honourable Jean Gomery, was biased against Chrétien and his former chief-of-staff, Jean Pelletier, and as a result the portions of the report by the Gomery Commission on the sponsorship scandal that blamed Chrétien and Pelletier must be removed from the report. A just decision in my opinion, as Gomery's comments to reporters clearly demonstrated that he had already reached a conclusion.
I'll have to take a look at the ruling when I get the chance, because I believe that there was also a lot of conflict over the lack of procedural fairness during the Commission. For example, Chrétien, Pelletier, Gagliano, and company were all being accused of corruption, and stood to be publicly humiliated, possibly even charged with criminal offences, but were not allowed to call witnesses or present evidence in their defence. I'm interested to see how these arguments turned out, I know that they did achieve a few partial victories on motions to be allowed to examine documents, but the rest isn't quite clear to me yet.
Chrétien's supporters are quick to declare this a vindication of the former Prime Minister, and to be sure, this is without a doubt a big thing. There can be no question that the setting aside of Gomery's conclusions due to bias casts a serious doubt on just how well founded those conclusions were in the first place, but it does not amount to a declaration of his innocence. There is also still the possibility that the Crown may take its case to the Federal Court of Appeal, but that remains to be announced.
So what does all of this really mean? Well, since the Gomery report's conclusions have officially been thrown out, but all of the facts remain, Canadians will just have to make up their own minds.