Justice John Gomery's wife Pierrette Rayle, a Quebec Court of Appeal judge: sponsorship scandal report a no-brainer

By Janice Tibbetts
Ottawa
Oct 28, 2005

Justice John Gomery's wife says her husband's report into the $250-million sponsorship scandal is pretty much a no-brainer and anyone expecting a bombshell will probably be let down.

"He's not coming out with something secret," Pierrette Rayle, a Quebec Court of Appeal judge, said in an interview. "It was all there under the camera lights. Technically, anybody could have written the report."

Judge Rayle's assessment of Judge Gomery's findings -- to be released Tuesday in the first of two reports -- doesn't come from first-hand information.

Rather, the respected judge was speaking as an educated bystander who concluded the report will be obvious to anybody who followed nine months of public hearings in which Liberal insiders and their friends gave damning testimony about how the sponsorship program was mismanaged.

Judge Gomery's first report is a fact-finding one, in which he will lay out the scandal as he sees it. He is currently writing his second report, due Feb. 1, which will recommend reforms to ensure a sponsorship-type affair cannot happen again.

The scandal involved federal government contracts to advertising agencies for work in promoting federalism in post-referendum Quebec.

Based on witness testimony, there's a growing assumption the scandal will likely be blamed on a select group of Quebec advertising executives and a tight group of government and Liberal party officials close to former prime minister Jean Chretien.

There was no clear testimony fingering Prime Minister Paul Martin or anyone in the current Liberal government or party hierarchy, so the report could be disappointing for anyone expecting that Judge Gomery will portray the entire Liberal government or party as corrupt.

 Rather, testimony showed how a group of Quebec advertising executives were favoured with inflated contracts from the sponsorship program and those responsible for its administration -- including Mr. Chretien's then chief of staff Jean Pelletier, former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, and senior public servants Charles Guite and Pierre Tremblay -- bypassed normal management rules and that tens of thousands of dollars found its way into Liberal coffers.

Judge Rayle, interviewed this week for a profile story about Judge Gomery, admitted she is a bit surprised that anybody who paid attention to the inquiry could be expecting big news in the report.

"There will be some interest, I'm sure, in seeing the findings, even though it's a peculiar situation because everybody has watched, in effect, the work," she said.

Judge Rayle also described the summer that she spent as a virtual inquiry widow, with her husband toiling long hours crafting his report with pen and paper at his empty office and then retiring to their sweltering apartment in Old Montreal.

"Every word you will read in that report will come from a handwritten piece of paper," said Judge Rayle. "There was a lot of sweat."