Friday, February 22, 2008

Part I: The cook, the thief, his wife & her envelopes

François Martin, Brian Mulroney's former chef presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee on February 7. Martin was called before the Committee to confirm or deny reports that he witnessed, "cash [coming] in like it was falling from the sky" at 24 Sussex. The following is NOT a transcript, so quote at your own risk ;) Time-stamps are approximate.

The cook, the thief, his wife & her envelopes
4:58 PM
Szabo (chair, LPC): our next witness is M François Martin, the former chef in PM Mulroney's official residence, 24 Sussex. He held that position for four years and resigned in 1989. Good afternoon, M Martin. Take your time. This is an information meeting. The cmte is doing a study and we are trying to gather info relating to ethical conduct and rules. This is a cmte of parliament and it's normal practice for us to swear-in witness. Anything you say is protected, and can't be used against you in any way. Asst. Clerk will swear you in.
(M. Martin is wearing a grey, informal long-sleeved shirt that is open; first three buttons undone?!)
(M. Martin is sworn in)

Szabo (chair, LPC): ok, now that you're sworn in, the question on everybody's minds is...(smiling in a really goofy, slightly embarrassed way) You are now with the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil correct?

François Martin: yes

Szabo (chair, LPC): what do you do?

François Martin: I work for the head office in Montréal.

Szabo (chair, LPC): I want to take this slow and I want you to relax. (Where have I heard THAT before, lol). Anyone who comes before the cmte for first time wonders about the were here during part of M Lavoie's testimony and observed should know that M Lavoie has been here for many, many years and knows this process well (!!!) Want you to understand that this isn't a court. We're conducting a study. Want to better understand a pretty complicated situation. Your position, working at 24 Sussex, having occasion to see, hear things...know who came around...might help us understand relationships among many people. You're one of many witnesses, so I don't expect that you're going to help us in broad ways but I have a feeling that the kinds of things you can tell us will give us a good sense. Any testimony or evidence you give is protected by parliamentary priv. Can't be used against you at all. Because you were an employee, from all we know, you did a very good job for the PM at the time. We've asked you here to help us and that's exactly why you're here. Express your opinions and feelings freely. Answer to the best of your ability. We'll try to take time to properly explain ourselves. Any questions?

François Martin: not really, but it was about 20 yrs ago, so I'll try my best to remember.

Szabo (chair, LPC): Mr. Dhaliwal will ask you a few questions.

5:04 PM
Dhaliwal (LPC): I'm interested in you describing the details of your handling cash at 24 Sussex during your employment. You would pick up envelopes of cash for BM's office, is that correct?

François Martin: no, I didn't pick up envelopes for PMO. Once I picked up an envelope from an office, which was Fred Doucet's at the time. A brown envelope that I brought back to 24 Sussex

Dhaliwal (LPC): what was in the envelope?

François Martin: I have no idea. I was going into the office at Langevin bldg. I remember b/c before that, Mrs. Mulroney had asked me to make a deposit of 10K in the Bank of Montreal. On Sparks, behind Longevin. I deposited the 10K, and then did errands. I remember that Doucet envelope, b/c it looked similar to the one given me by Mrs M, but I have no idea what was in the envelope.

Dhaliwal (LPC): you said there was lots of cash at 24 Sussex when you worked there. Is that true?

François Martin: a lot of money where? Don't understand the question.

Dhaliwal (LPC): at 24 Sussex Dr.

François Martin: I had a 1500$ petty cash for the two residences at the time. Don't remember any other money circulating or moving around. Nothing of the sort. (Wow...this is interesting)

Dhaliwal (LPC): there was a special safe that was installed in your office to handle or hold cash-can you confirm that?

François Martin: I can confirm that there was a safe in my office, but I don't know what was in it.

Dhaliwal (LPC): (sorry--missed question b/c the English-sound-channel was still muted when the translator finished w/Martin's answer. Grrrr!)

François Martin: the PM and his asst Rick Morgan

Dhaliwal (LPC): who kept track of money coming in and out of safe? Morgan?

François Martin: to my knowledge, yes, but those are the people who used safe. Don't know if it was money or documents or what. I was busy running two kitchens and organizing staff. I didn't have my ear to the door, listening to what was going on.

Dhaliwal (LPC): you said earlier that the envelope from Doucet--same or similar envelope that you deposited into Bank of Montreal?

François Martin: similar to an envelope, ONCE, for Mrs. M, in a bank acct that belonged to her. I see nothing illegal in that. It was an ordinary errand that I was running.
(it is becoming clear that Martin is not going to confirm Stevie Cameron's story, at least not today)

Dhaliwal (LPC): did you do other banking, aside from this, for Mrs. M?

François Martin: no, never

Dhaliwal (LPC): did you have any other dealings in cash, flowing from Mr. M?

François Martin: no

Dhaliwal (LPC): did you see any of the following...Jerry Doucet?

François Martin: don't remember. No idea.

Dhaliwal (LPC): Schreiber?

François Martin: don't remember, either. Sorry, it was years ago...

Dhaliwal (LPC): (missed it)

François Martin: don't remember. Perhaps. I have my date book and menus for all the dinners that I could pass on to you, but I don't remember names exactly of the people.

Dhaliwal (LPC): I'd ask for those records to be given to us

Szabo (chair, LPC): which records?

Dhaliwal (LPC): for those dinners...

Szabo (chair, LPC): you have to be WAY more specific...he worked there for four years...let's be reasonable. What are you looking for?

Dhaliwal (LPC): go through his records, these are the names of people seen at 24 Sussex Dr.

Szabo (chair, LPC): is that clear enough? Is it with respect to specific functions? Political? Visitors?

Thibault (LPC): point of order? (acknowledged by chair) perhaps I can recommend that we don't move on this now, and in the future we can decide what docs to ask people for

Szabo (chair, LPC): that sounds like a good approach. Moving on...

5:11 PM
Ménard (BQ): You say that once Mr. Doucet gave an envelope, but you didn't know what was in it.

François Martin: right. That happened once, when I went up to his office

Ménard (BQ): and once, at Mrs. M's request, you had an envelope w/10K to deposit

François Martin: that just happened once.

Ménard (BQ): Ok. Not several times. You know that all kinds of stuff has been written about you....

François Martin: yes

Ménard (BQ): ALLLLLL sorts of things (smiling mischieviosly).

François Martin: no, I've heard some reports, but...

Ménard (BQ): I'll bet you're interested in what people are saying about you...

François Martin: No, not really (smiling)

Ménard (BQ): we were told that you had said that the 'cash fell from heaven' at 24 Sussex. Is that true?

François Martin: yes, that's true...well, I'm from a family of 8 kids. So it wasn't an extravagant lifestyle. So I'm sure I said it was an adjustment to come into a place like that...
Ménard (BQ): you were reported that it was CASH money that was moving around, as if from heaven

François Martin: no, no...there were expenses, accts all over Ottawa for my purchasing, etc, but I didn't see CASH moving around the house, so to speak

Ménard (BQ): I'm sure there were major receptions, so you needed large budgets for those. When you did that, was it the Mulroneys who paid or the gov?

François Martin: I have no idea. I submitted my invoices and received cash or from open accts. The invoice was sent to someone (probably in gov) who paid for it. I really don't know how it worked administratively

Ménard (BQ): it was reported that you said that Mrs. M regularly asked you to transport envelopes from PCO

François Martin: no.

Ménard (BQ): that's wrong?

François Martin: inaccurate

Ménard (BQ): it was also reported that you said Mrs. M gave you a number of envelopes of cash to deposit in Wellington branch of Bank of Montreal. But there was only one envelope. Did you say to someone, "But it's not true!"

François Martin: by "someone," who do you mean? Yes, I told the people around me. Did I challenge the article? The answer is no.

Ménard (BQ): did you speak about it w/Mulroney family?

François Martin: no, I didn't defend myself

Ménard (BQ): and how did you defend yourself against lies?

François Martin: there was no point. People can say what they like. Lots of reports, for e.g. that I wasn't on good terms w/Mrs. M, but that wasn't true; we were on very good terms when I was there. So there's just no end to it.

Ménard (BQ): since this cmte has been sitting, and you knew you would be appearing, has anyone contacted you about what you might say to this committee? No one has contacted you?

François Martin: yes, numerous journalists contacted me, but I never returned calls. La Presse, G&M, numerous papers.

Ménard (BQ): anyone from BM's entourage, directly or indirectly?

François Martin: no, not at all. None.

Ménard (BQ): alright. And now you apparently saw BM take something out of a safety deposit box that was as big as a refrigerator...

François Martin: but I don't know that it was money. It was always envelopes, could be documents...

Ménard (BQ): were you always there when BM took things out of the safety deposit box?

François Martin: do you mean as large as a fridge? It was about 4' tall

Ménard (BQ): no further questions

Coming up next: Part II ("The cook, the thief, his wife & her lamp shades"). Or, return to Lavoie's testimony (Part I)
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