Michael Ignatieff’s new Director of Communications has an interesting background

“Everything old is new again” is the buzz coming from Liberals and journalists in Ottawa. Peter Donolo’s the new boss of the OLO shop (the Dunno-LO as one journalist told me weeks ago) and today we’ve learned that he’s finally put some new key players in place after the wholly awkward ejection of Davey/Fairbrother.

Among the “fresh” faces is Michael Ignatieff’s new Director of Communications, Mario Laguë, a man the CBC’s Rosemary Barton tells us is among the new gang that “[knows] Quebec inside-out”.

But, a Lexis-Nexis/Informart plunge into the past tells us more!

It appears that Mario Laguë was not only hired by Paul Martin to put a brave face on the sponsorship scandal, but Ignatieff’s new D.Comm was also part of a three-man panel with Chuck Guité that hired then Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano’s Chief of Staff to replace Guité, who was retiring. Stephen Harper, then opposition leader, criticized the hire saying the sponsorship scandal could have been stopped if a senior bureacrat was hired in the position instead.

Affidavit shows how Guité was replaced Document reveals membership of team that chose boss for sponsorship program — The Globe and Mail, October 18th, 2005 by Daniel Leblanc.

OTTAWA — An affidavit prepared by the Public Service Commission for the Gomery inquiry sheds new light on the controversial hiring of a former Liberal aide to head the sponsorship program in 1999, including the role of a federal official who would become an aide to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The inquiry heard conflicting testimony about how Pierre Tremblay, then the chief of staff to then public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, was hired to replace retiring bureaucrat Chuck Guité. Mr. Guité said he rigged the process at Mr. Gagliano’s behest; the former minister denied any political interference.

The affidavit, which went unnoticed when it was tabled in May, shows that Mr. Tremblay’s hiring was approved by a three-member selection board made up of Mr. Guité, Public Service Commission executive resourcing consultant Michael Carey, and Mario Laguë, a long-time Liberal supporter who became Mr. Martin’s first director of communications when he became Prime Minister. The affidavit said Mr. Tremblay was hired “based on the recommendation of the selection board.”

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said yesterday the problems with the sponsorship program could have been stopped if an experienced civil servant had been hired in 1999 instead of Mr. Tremblay. The problems continued until an RCMP investigation was launched in 2002, but by then Mr. Tremblay was working in another federal agency.

When Prime Minister Paul Martin was in office he hired Laguë to “cover-up” the sponsorship scandal according to opposition Conservatives at the time.

Assistant to PM contributed to cover-up, opposition says Mario Lague included in strategy sessions when problems first surfaced, e-mail says; Mario Lague included in strategy sessions when problems first surfaced, e-mail says — The Globe and Mail, February 20th, 2004 by Campbell Clark

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Paul Martin’s communications director was a key player in the Chrétien government’s efforts to put the best face on serious problems in the sponsorship program in 2000, government records show.

Opposition politicians focused many attacks in the Commons yesterday on Mario Lague, Mr. Martin’s communications director, insisting he was involved in efforts to “cover up” the sponsorship scandal, which saw millions misused from 1996 to 2002.

Mr. Martin fought back, asserting that Mr. Lague “was not involved in the management of the sponsorship file.”

However, records show that Mr. Lague was included in top-level meetings to plan strategy when problems began to emerge. An e-mail from September, 2000, obtained by an independent researcher and provided to The Globe and Mail, indicates that Mr. Lague was one of a small group of senior officials and political aides who plotted to put the best face on a damaging audit.

Motion on Adscam to be moved

I’ve learned that Peterborough Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro will move the following motion at committee on Tuesday:

November 1st 2009 represents the fourth anniversary of the first report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, presided over by Justice Gomery. Despite the time that has passed, we are no closer to knowing which Federal Liberal riding associations benefited from the stolen taxpayer funds or where the missing $43 million dollars highlighted by Justice Gomery ultimately wound up.

The Standing committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics calls on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a full audit of the sponsorship program to determine which federal Liberal riding associations received stolen funds and to clarify for Canadians who received the missing $43 million dollars.

We hear rumours…

some good, some bad…

This rumour came in via Twitter:

InfluenceComm (Jean-François Dumas): RUMOUR IN THE MEDIA: resignation of PM (Harper) next week.

Is the source credible? Who is Jean-François Dumas? What is InfluenceComm?

From Marketing Magazine, February 23rd, 1998:

The CBC has preliminary audience numbers for its Olympics coverage. On Monday, Feb. 9, an average 1.48 million Canadians watched prime time coverage. That peaked at 1.77 million between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1.66 million watched from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; that number jumped to 2.33 million from 9:30 p.m. to midnight, peaking at 3.05 million between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. That night the International Olympic Committee stripped snowboarder Ross Rebagliati of his gold medal.

The Royal Bank and AT&T have formed the first Canadian alliance between a bank and a long-distance company. Connect@work combines Internet access with on-line banking. It debuted Feb. 9, and it’s only available to businesses banking with Royal. Jo-Anne Wade, manager for E-Commerce marketing at the Royal Bank, says that demand for this type of service is increasing: “There is a growing number of small businesses getting onto the Web,” she says. “This is designed to make it easier for them.”

Montreal’s Groupaction/JWT has created an agency-within-an-agency with GroupaXion New Media, headed by Jean-Francois Dumas. It offers planning and creative services for clients such as the Treasury Board of Canada, showing them how to use technologies including the Internet, intranets, Web sites, debit cards and CD-ROMs for promotional purposes.

Shell Canada Products Ltd., a subsidiary of Shell Canada, is the official sponsor of Ted and Tony’s Inside Track,”the most watched automotive information program” in Canada, Shell says. A survey of 1997

Groupaction… where have we heard that name before?

From the Gomery inquiry documentation:

Mr. J. Brault and his wife, Ms Joane Archambault, started Groupaction Marketing Inc. (“Groupaction”) in 1982.

The main operating companies were:

a) Groupaction Marketing – the primary advertising and marketing
company; and

b) Alléluia Design (“Alléluia”) – a company operating in the field of
artistic and graphic design.

In November 1997 Groupaxion Nouveaux Médias (“Groupaxion”) was
incorporated to operate in the fields of interactive media and web sites.

GroupaXion New Media was owned by Jean Brault and headed up by Jean-Francois Dumas. Now, a man named Jean-Francois Dumas runs a Montreal new media firm called Influence Communication and he’s starting the spread of a rumour on Twitter about the Prime Minister resigning.

C’est intéressant, non?