Was Canada’s Enron Canada Itself?

The Canadian auditor general’s report is now out, and it is a whopper of a business scandal, albeit set in the public sector. A few quotes from A-G Sheila Fraser on the biggest faux pas detailed in the report, the government’s errant billion-dollar up-with-Canada advertising program:

“Our findings on the government’s sponsorship program from 1997 to 2001 are deeply disturbing. Most significant was the widespread non-compliance with contracting rules, …Rules were broken or ignored at every stage of the process for more than four years, and there was little evidence of value received for the money spent.”

 Ms. Fraser continues:

“In a small number of very troubling cases, sponsorship funds were transferred to Crown corporations by highly questionable methods. These methods were apparently designed to pay commissions to communications agencies while hiding the source of the funds. And the amounts were significant.”

Canadians have been congratulating themselves for having (largely) escaped having their own Enron. No longer. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it seems as if the Federal government nationalized the job.