“When they broke those laws and those rules, they did not come to cabinet and ask to break those rules. As a result of that the government did not know.” Prime Minister Paul Martin

No. I don’t suppose the functionaries of the Liberal Party did come to cabinet and expressly ask permission to break the laws of Canada as they carried out the wishes of their political masters. They did not need to. That’s not how the system works.

But for anyone to believe, as the current Prime Minister would have us believe, that hundreds of millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money vapourized into thin air as the result of 14 “rogue” civil servants, acting completely on their own, is to raise the quality of ingenuous to previously uncharted altitudes.

It is an astonishing series of revelations that Auditor General Sheila Fraser has laid before us — fake invoices, no invoices at all, work billed that never took place — a whole gamut of white collar fakery and crime which, especially astonishingly, encircles the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In the United States, the reputation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation came under considerable disrepute a few years ago when J. Edgar Hoover’s harassment tactics against civil rights workers and especially Dr. Martin Luther King came to light.

In Canada, our Royal Canadian Mounted Police settle for smaller scores — they bought horses and trailers for the RCMP musical ride with money filched from the Sponsorship Program supposed to strengthen the federal presence in Quebec and dampen enthusiasm for the separatists.

It is not recorded whether these horses whinnied with a French accent.

But the inclusion of the RCMP in the scandal raises another problem — how can you ask the federal police force to investigate the worst case of federal crime in Canadian history, when the police were an integral part of the criminal activity ?

By last week’s end, after days of detail about the spurious spending, launched ostensibly to win the hearts and minds of Quebecers to the joys of Canadian federalism by putting up signs at music festivals and automobile races, Martin shifted blame from the 14 “rogues.”

There were now new and mysterious villains. He did not name them, but hinted very strongly they were all to be found in the inner political circle around Jean Chrétien ( remember him?), a fellow described by Martin as …“a man of great integrity.”

Of course, Martin claimed he personally knew nothing about anything which makes him either an all-time political nincompoop, or one of the great Canadian political liars.

But Martin had another way of being squeaky clean on this one. He simply ratted out his former boss and longtime political nemesis, that “honourable man,” former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

Some have suggested that Martin must have known, and in any case must be accountable, along with others in the Liberal cabinet, where he was a Minister of the Crown from Quebec as Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002, embracing the time period when the nefarious activity took place in his home province.

Not so, according to Martin. He saw, heard and spoke no evil…because… he was Finance Minister of the country. Go figure. Presumably, were he a lowly MP, he would have known all about the double dealing.

“I was certainly not in on the secrets of God on Quebec matters,” said Martin. Presumably Martin refers to Chrétien as “God” in this context, and not the teachings of the other fellow who has had a lot to say about honesty and morality.

By now, the former “rogues” were merely the “mechanics” in the scheme. The actual villains were unidentified politicians and political operatives who took their lead on matters of law and political morality from Jean Chrétien.

In other words — it was all His fault.

Having cast himself in the role of the avenging angel, Martin vows he will now bring all of the backsliders (with whom he sat at the cabinet table for nearly a decade) to an accounting of their actions, some of them to prosecution for their criminal acts.

And by doing that, Paul Martin has shown himself willing to send the Liberal Party into the dumper.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that his political survival is the only thing that counts in this whole miserable affair — that he is quite willing and able to cut loose Jean Chrétien and all his works as well as cause an enormous split in the Liberal Party — in order to guarantee that survival.

That is what this affair is really about.

It is not about outrage at the mis-spending of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayersâe(TM) money, of corrupting government departments and agencies and even the national law enforcement agency — it is about the political survival of Paul Martin.

This is a man who skated the edge of ethical morality all through his business career, twisting and turning to provide a public face that masked the private acts of hypocrisy.

This is clearly a man for this age of greedy corporate moral edge splitting.

This is clearly a man without any sense of moral constancy.

His conduct is very nearly as disgusting as the scandal itself. It is a scam to divert attention from himself and his presence with the politicians who conspired to defraud the people of Canada to the benefit of themselves.

And so, to divert press and public from himself, Paul Martin throws Alphonse Gagliano from the lifeboat to feed the encircling sharks. By comparison, his actions make Alphonse Gagliano a virtuous paragon of political morality and loyalty.