Canadians Rally Around Man Suing Top Tories
OTTAWA (AP) _ Glen Kealey’s struck a chord.
The Quebec man’s first victory last week in his fight to charge 13 prominent politicians with graft has inspired such support that his lawyer has set aside an employee just to deal with fan calls, the attorney said Wednesday.
″We’re getting quite a reaction,″ Richard Bosada, Kealey’s attorney, told The Associated Press. ″We’ve had a multitude of calls.″
Since July 17, when a justice of the peace gave Kealey permission to press charges as a private citizen against the government’s sports minister and other figures in Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s party, the response has been overwhelming, he said.
″Kealey’s literally had 200 calls a day″ at his home, and people have been offering him financial and other support, Bosada said. ″I’ve designated someone (at my office) to take all the calls.″
Kealey, who was already well-known on Parliament Hill for his daily protests and colorful antics, said Tuesday that citizens felt inspired by his example.
″There has been such despair across the country that nobody could do anything about anything,″ he said. ″Now they’re seeing that just maybe we can do something.″
But Bertin Nadeau, chairman of Unigesco Inc., a small holding company in Montreal, spoke Wednesday of a less positive fallout from all the uproar.
Nadeau told a news conference it was making foreign investors wary of investing in Canada and of buying Canadian dollars. He said the Japanese, for example, weren’t buying Canadian dollars ″and that is not good news for businessmen trying to fight their way out of the recession in this country.″
The Canadian dollar dropped to 75 U.S. cents last Thursday after Kealey won permission to press charges. In reaction, the Bank of Canada allowed short- term interest rates to rise on the money markets to prop up the Canadian currency.
Ontario province’s district attorney, Andrejs Berzins, is reviewing Kealey’s case to decide whether to prosecute. If he proceeds, a police authority will be designated to investigate.
If the government doesn’t pursue the case, Kealey could do so with his own prosecution. The accused are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 16.
″Everything is on course,″ said Bosada. In Canada, the federal Criminal Code, under which the men are charged, is enforced by provincial authorities.
Justice of the Peace Lynn Coulter gave Kealey permission to press the case after holding a 17-day closed hearing. No details were released, but Kealey’s allegations have long been public.
The former real estate developer began picketing Parliament Hill the day after Mulroney won a second term in 1988.
Kealey alleged that a Cabinet minister later identified as Roch LaSalle asked him for a bribe of $5,000 (then about $3,750 U.S.) two years earlier in connection with a Quebec office building Kealey planned to build.
The money was supposed to serve as a downpayment on a further 5 percent kickback on the federal contract, Kealey claims.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated but said there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges.
Kealey now charges Police Commissioner Norman Inkster, Deputy Commissioner Michael Shoemaker and a former deputy commissioner with ″causing investigations of a political nature to be limited or ceased.″
The others are charged with conspiracy to defraud the government. They include LaSalle, Sports Minister Pierre Cadieux, Senate Speaker Guy Charbonneau, Senator Michael Cogger, nine other prominent Conservatives and a Quebec businessman.
Kealey says that after refusing to pay the bribe, he lost the federal contract, then later his business and savings when he became obsessed with the case.
Along with donations of food and housing, he received about $5,000 in donations last year, $3,200 the year before and between $5,000 and $6,000 so far this year. His legal bills are being covered by legal aid.