On the Farm

On the Farm

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Francois Martin

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.


Anonymous said...

Are the interviews on tape or are they your notes?

Anonymous said...

This is my second comment sent to your Blog. I as a blogger for The Guardian understand that a Blogger maintains the right to delete any comments they wish.So I try again, you may have liked Francois Martin as a source of gossip for your books. He was an angry young man while in the employ of the Mulroney's. He said yesterday at the Commons Committee that he came from a family of 8 and could not understand the lifestyle of the PM and his family. This young man was sent to Nice, to Germany too learn and indeed to improve his catering knowledge, at 5 star restaurants and hotels. Yes these were owned by Mr Mrs Vari, and their kindness was returned by indiscretion. As you are aware I was with the Mulroneys from Dec 1984 till 1992. I refused to speak with you as a purveyor of Gossip and even after all these years you are still trying to glean publicity from Gossip.
I feel that it is about time you made a public apology both to the Mulroney family and indeed to Canadians on the whole. The liberties you have taken with interviews is amazing. You not only bent the truth you Stretched it completely out of shape. It is no wonder Francois martin had such a difficult time getting a job after leaving the PMO under a cloud of mistrust.He is lucky his brother was a performer for Cirque du Soleil and obtained a position for him.
A.Robby McRobb CD a proud Canadian

CuriosityCat said...

Do please lay out the information from your interviews in your blog.

This is a messy affair; and will probably get a bit messier - any clarifications of fact versus fiction as we go along will be very useful to voters.

And thanks for your efforts; many of us look forward to your contribution in front of the Ethics Committee.

It is time to clean up the dirty past, so that we can institute proper rules for the future...

Stevie Cameron said...

Most of my interviews were taped. A few people were too nervous or frightened to be taped. In those cases I always asked for the interview to be double-teamed; in other words, I would bring one of my research associates with me to take notes as well. And in some cases (as you will see with the David Angus intervew, part of which is on this blog) we had two people and we taped as well.

Hyperman said...

Mr. Cameron,

I had the chance to work with Mr. Martin @ Cirque du Soleil some years ago. I had the chance to chat with him a couple of time and he talked a little about his years at Sussex drive. From what I understood, he witnessed a lot of dirty business but he was now afraid to talk about it. He also told me about the episode when he initially tried to publish his own book and I think the process made him understood that simply telling the truth is not enough when you're dealing with powerful politicians like Mr Mulroney.

I think "the Mulroney mob" were able to scare him enough so he would repudiate himself in front of the committee. When you think about it, he has a lot more to lose than to gain by this now and I think he only wants to go on. But I also understand that it's easier for ex supporters of Mulroney like Robby McRobb to convince themselves that his initial motivation was only a revenge against his ex boss.

Hyperman said...

btw, sorry for the mistake, I meant Mrs Cameron !