Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 16, 2003
Chretien denies Vatican rejected ambassador
Gagliano tarred by cronyism allegations
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Prime Minister Jean Chretien denies that the Holy See rejected the appointment of Alfonso Gagliano as ambassador to the Vatican and says the former public works minister will stay on his job as the Canadian ambassador to Denmark.
"Mr. Gagliano was not refused by anybody," Chretien told the House of Commons June 10. "He has been the ambassador in Denmark for a year and a half and he will keep doing his job."
Moments later, however, Bloc Quebecois MP Michel Gauthier held up a copy of a calendar of the Queen of Denmark announcing a farewell luncheon for Gagliano June 17.
"The government has some serious diplomatic trouble," if it doesn't know the Queen of Denmark is honouring the departure of Alfonso Gagliano, said Gauthier.
"If Alfonso Gagliano is no longer in Denmark officially, if he can't go confess in Rome anymore, is the prime minister going to ask him to come and confess in Ottawa?" asked Gauthier.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham replied, "I can assure you that Mr. Gagliano is listed on our web site as assigned to Copenhagen, and he will continue to be our ambassador in Copenhagen."
A June 10 Toronto Star report said government sources confirmed that Gagliano's appointment to the Vatican had been quietly withdrawn. "The Vatican made it clear that it would likely veto the appointment if it proceeded," the newspaper stated.
Gagliano, who left cabinet in January 2002, amid charges of cronyism in his department, had long been rumoured to be in line for an appointment as ambassador to the Vatican. Instead, he was named as the ambassador to Denmark.
Calls for a public inquiry into Gagliano's handling of the public works department were renewed in recent days amid allegations that his son, Vincenzo Gagliano, had benefited from federal contracts awarded to a printing company that employed him.