Let me get this straight. While Quebec federal Liberals and their cronies were operating a corrupt kickback scheme and funnelling tens of millions of dollars from the public purse, Finance Minister Paul Martin, a lifelong Quebec Liberal, the highest ranking party member in the province, remained blissfully unaware of what was going on? You mean to tell me that while he was on the rubber chicken circuit, gladhanding Qubec Liberal party members, planning strategy and tactics, running the nation’s finances, this criminal activity somehow escaped his attention?

I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Let me offer an explanation for Judge Gomery’s conclusions on this aspect of the matter. I am speaking as one who participated as counsel in a lengthy public inquiry (APEC) and one who watched Martin’s testimony before the commission.

A commissioner of inquiry, like Judge Gomery, takes his lead from commission counsel. In this instance, counsel did not press Martin on his assertions that he knew nothing. The questions put to Martin were like lobbed softballs, not major league sliders. Any resemblance to probing cross-examination was purely coincidental.

This was to be expected. After all, would a lawyer appointed by the Martin’s federal government actually grill the sitting prime minister, let alone challenge his credibility? Not very likely.

Don’t blame Judge Gomery for his findings about Martin. The blame should fall on the inquiry system, a system that operates in such a deferential fashion in situations like this.