The inquiry has been checking whether the millions of dollars a handful of Quebec agencies received in contracts after the 1995 referendum were tied to benefits the Liberal Party of Canada received from those firms.It's always fun to watch Liberals squirm.
Mr. Brault gave the most candid answer yet to that question.
He said Benoît Corbeil, the executive director of the party's Quebec wing, once asked for a $400,000 donation and promised that he would get him a $3-million sponsorship contract. The commission Mr. Brault would earn on that contract was to compensate for the donation.
He said other disguised donations he made included half a million dollars in false billings to Jacques Corriveau, a confidant of Mr. Chrétien.
"When it comes to sponsorships, it's clear in my mind. If it wasn't for the investments of all types that we made towards the party, despite our abilities, our share of the pie would have been very small," he said.
While some of his allegations cannot be independently verified, many others were buttressed by scores of bogus invoices, cashed cheques, annotations in agenda books and other records the inquiry's forensic accountants dug up.
His testimony further cemented the notion that the program that Mr. Chrétien defended as an essential stratagem to counter the separatist threat has turned into a full-blown scandal threatening the survival of the Liberal governments in Ottawa and Quebec City.
But then again it's much more depressing to see them get away with it. Which they might.