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A real translation

Thankfully, Chuck had the time to do a real translation:

I'd be careful of taking Google Language Tools or Babelfish too literally when attempting to parse for hidden meanings. Here's my best shot at a more colloquial translation, i.e. this isn't a transliteration, but it's the best I can do at preserving, in English, the meaning of the original French. Or at least the best I can do near midnight. =)

The prosecutor isn't sweeping aside or trivializing anything. When he's saying "Bon,..." he doesn't mean "Good,..." even though that's the word-for-word translation we all learned in elementary school. In that context, beginning a sentence, it means "OK...". Think of how in English we might say "Right, ...." even though we don't necessarily mean the preceding statement was correct -- it's just a way of acknowledging what's been said and passing to the next point.

Anyway, here's my colloquial translation. If there are inaccuracies, I'm not trying to slander/libel anyone:

Mr. Cournoyer: Did you have discussions with Mr. Paul Martin regarding the federal government program of visibility in Quebec, and if so, under what circumstances?

Mr. Corbeil: When Mr. Tobin left, I was the Québec organizer for Mr. Brian Tobin, and on January 14, 2001, Mr. Tobin retired from political life and -- pardon me, I said February -- excuse me, January 2002. At that time, Lucie Castilli (who was Mr. Martin's assistant) called to ask me if I wanted -- or that Mr. Martin wanted to meet me. So, Mr. Martin and I had a meeting on Parliament Hill when he was Finance Minister and I went to his office on the Hill and we talked of various things, particularly of the organization of our forces on the ground. We also talked about the ministers' regional tour because it came up naturally when discussing the elected officials -- one must understand that [he? -- meaning Mr. Martin? -- there's a word missing] is an elected official of Québec too -- of the ministers' regional tour, and of the federal government's presence in Québec.

These were things we discussed together, among other things.

[Note: I don't believe this tour had anything to do with the sponsorship scandal. These tours are common; they're usually fact-finding or public-consultation regional tours undertaken by ministers responsible for a particular portfolio; see for example http://www.lebulletinregional.com/rubrique/la_une/2005/cifq25042005.html and http://communiques.gouv.qc.ca/gouvqc/communiques/GPQF/Avril2005/15/c6061.html -- this would explain the prosecutor "writing off" the question.]

Cournoyer: So, an entirely normal discussion that you could have had and did have with someone who wanted to become leader of the Liberal Party?


Corbeil: Well, I mean, Mr. Martin, the big difference he had with Mr. Chretien wasn't the goals, it was the strategy for accomplishing those goals. Mr. Chretien leaned heavily towards, I'd call it a visible presence in Quebec, a federal government presence via the sponsorship program. Mr. Martin's strategy leaned much more towards integrating, I'd say parenthetically, "nationalists" into the heart of the Liberal Party of Canada.

[That, to me, is the shocker -- that Martin allegedly wanted to make the Liberal tent big enough to embrace Quebec nationalists! Mind you, I shouldn't be surprised: c.f. Mulroney and Bouchard.]

Cournoyer: But in practice, with Mr. Martin himself, did you have any discussion specifically relating to the sponsorship program and/or the federal government's visibility initiative?

Corbeil: My answer remains the same, Mr. Cournoyer. We didn't necessarily talk about sponsorships; we talked about visibility; we talked about the ministers' regional tours. Mr. Martin asked me: "Is this something we should keep doing? Is it something worthwhile [literally "interesting"] to Quebec?" I told him: "Yes, it's worthwhile." It was something that had borne fruit in Quebec.

------

Cournoyer: OK, when you say above and beyond the ministers' tour, what exactly did you discuss by way of visibility?

Corbeil: That it was wrong for the federal government to consider withdrawing. I didn't speak for the government, but I explained the situation. It was wrong to think that the federal government's strategy in local and regional media was negative. I told him on the contrary, it was something positive that we should maintain.

The ministers' regional tours were also worth keeping. It was a real plus to see elected officials in the regions, to have them present during activities financed by the federal government.

Cournoyer: So, once again, that was a normal discussion with someone who wanted to become leader of the Liberal party?

Corbeil: Listen, I don't want to trivialize when you call something "normal" but it was something that was there. It was something that was the same for Mr. Chretien as for Mr. Martin. It was clear that the the presence of the federal government in their mind, by way of the sponsorship program, that visibility, the ministers' regional tours, it was clear the program had to be maintained.
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