$4.3 M spent trying to crush Beaudoin, after he refused a loan to Chrétien’s former partner
The Post’s story about Paul Martin’s golf course – paid for out of his own pocket, so calm down, people – reminded me of another Quebec golf course and another Liberal leader. From the irreplaceable Lorrie Goldstein:
And even AdScam, for which Chrétien bears ultimate responsibility, doesn’t reveal the former PM at his worst. For that, we must turn to another Grit scandal -- what Chrétien and his lackeys did to Francois Beaudoin when he was president of the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Here, I’m indebted to the excellent reporting of Sun Media’s Greg Weston. Beaudoin, was an honest public servant who had the courage to say “no” to Chrétien, starting in 1996.
No, he would not approve a $1.6- million loan, later cut to $615,000, to benefit Chrétien’s friend, Yvon Duhaime, owner of the Grand-Mere inn in Chrétien’s riding. Duhaime, he said, was a bad risk, with a criminal past and a poor fiscal track record.
The fact Chrétien had even approached Beaudoin was wrong, especially considering that Chrétien was a former part-owner of the inn and a neighbouring golf course. At the time, Chrétien hadn’t been paid for his shares in the golf course and was seeking a new buyer. Chrétien’s own actions indicated he knew what he was doing was wrong. Why? Because he lied about them.
Between January 1999 and November 2000, Chrétien and his aides repeatedly insisted the BDC operated on its own, free from political interference. Finally, on Nov. 16, 2000, Chrétien was forced to admit in the middle of an election that he had lobbied Beaudoin repeatedly. [Note: this produced the infamous Chrétien quote, "It's the normal operation."]
By then, two Chrétien cronies, Michel Vennat and Jean Carle, were making Beaudoin’s life a living hell.
First, Beaudoin was effectively forced out of his post when the BDC loan to Duhaime was approved over his objections.
Seeing the writing on the wall, he negotiated a severance and retirement package in the summer of 1999 and left the bank.
But Vennat and Carle weren’t finished. Soon after, Beaudoin was accused of “irregularities” by the BDC and lost his pension.
He was smeared in the media. His cottage and home were raided, not by police, but by BDC lawyers and accountants. Incredibly, a judge had authorized the search. Meanwhile, Carle was on the phone to Chrétien’s office, co-ordinating statements in the media and the Commons. Judge Denis would later describe this as “incredible ... Carle was convinced the prime minister is the only shareholder of the BDC. They are no longer looking like a corporation should, to give the media just the facts ... but only to repeat the position of the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Vennat then wrote two letters to RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli asking the Mounties to investigate Beaudoin for “misappropriation” of bank property and as the source of a “forged” document related to Shawinigate that had been leaked.
Six months later, the Mounties showed up at the Royal Montreal Golf Club, claiming there were investigating the membership of Beaudoin’s wife. At Christmas, they raided his Montreal home. Before Beaudoin could reach his lawyer, the attorney was contacted by a reporter who’d been tipped to the raid by the PMO. The RCMP found nothing. In April 2003, the Crown said no charges would be laid after concluding the case against him was absurd.
Finally, in September 2003, Beaudoin had his day in court.
Judge Denis ordered that Beaudoin be paid his full severance and pension. He denounced the BDC, saying he didn’t believe some of Vennat’s testimony and that Carle had lied. The publicly owned bank had spent four years and $4.3 million hounding Beaudoin.
--Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, April 10, 2005