Francois Martin is a wonderful person and was courageous in speaking out about the excesses he witnessed firsthand at 24 Sussex Drive when he worked there. After quitting his job because of these, he put together a manuscript about his experiences but couldn't find a publisher brave enough to take it; one he approached, he told me later, was former FLQ terrorist Jacques Lanctot who became a successful book publisher after serving three years in a Quebec prison (and some years in exile in Paris and Cuba) for taking part in the 1970 kidnap of James Cross, the British consul in Montreal.
I interviewed Lanctot in 1990 for a CBC Fifth Estate documentary on the anniversary of the October Crisis and the Cross kidnapping and could not resist asking him why he had rejected Francois Martin's manuscript.
Wasn't it any good? I asked.
It was very good, he replied. But he couldn't take it , he said; "if I had I would have lost my Canada Council grant."
After speaking out about the Mulroneys and giving me on-the-record interviews for my book, Mr. Martin had a difficult time finding work. Later, thank God, he was very successful. He deserved his success and I liked him very much.
But today he told the Ethics Committee today that I exaggerated in retelling his stories of the money that came into 24 Sussex Drive, money he often picked up in cash forMila Mulroney. My interviews are all in the archives at York University; I donated them to the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption at Osgoode Hall Law School. I will arrange to get them pulled and will check the originals.
But I didn't exaggerate. Both Mrs. Mulroney's assistant, Bonnie Brownlee and, later, Senator Marjory Lebreton confirmed that cash went to Sussex Drive for the Mulroneys. (Senator Lebreton told me this during a heated conversation on a now-defunct CBC Newsworld television talk show hosted by Clare Hoy and Judy Rebick.) So did Senator David Angus, the head of the PC Canada Fund which was a source for much of the cash. (See the previous posting.)
Every fact like this was checked and double-checked and I interviewed Francois Martin several times, often with my colleague, Rod Macdonell. Along with the cash, Mr. Martin also told us about gifts of couture clothing, art and other items from Mulroney friends, especially George and Helen Vari.