House arrest for a $1.5M crime


49er has called my attention to a blog written by Conservative MP Monte Solberg. I found Solberg’s recent post on Paul Coffin quite entertaining.

Who is Paul Coffin, you ask? He is a Montreal advertising executive and one of the perpetrators of the sponsorship scandal. He defrauded the federal government of $1.55-million in ad contracts. This week he pled guilty to 15 counts of fraud and was sentenced to house arrest:  two years less a day, to be served in the community.

He must also speak publicly on the theme of ethics in the business world. According to the Globe and Mail, “his first public act of contrition comes next week when he addresses 180 students at McGill University.”

Solberberg comments:

Two years of evening house arrest, Monday to Friday, and a speaking tour. This is Paul Coffin’s punishment for stealing $1.5 million dollars through the Sponsorship Program? Excuse me, but I think I did harder time than that when I was fourteen and got caught sneaking out of my room. Coffin is just lucky that my mom wasn’t sitting on the bench. If Shirley Solberg had heard his sad story he’d be on a chain gang right now somewhere up on the Ungava Peninsula, fighting off black flies with one hand and swinging a pick with the other.

But Mr. Coffin has discovered that defrauding the government in the biggest scandal in Canadian history isn’t so much a crime as it is a social faux pas. He has defrauded the people of Canada of $1.5 million dollars so he will be punished by having to be home by 9 PM, but only on weeknights. Gee, why not just sentence him to go to bed without any supper.

To be fair, we should mention that Mr. Coffin also returned the $1.5 million that he obtained fraudulently. (For meetings that never took place and work that was never done, out of nearly $5 million in total contracts.)

But I agree with Solberg. In the USA, after Enron and other such scandals, the government has begun to crack down on “white collar” crime. David Radler, for example, is looking at 29 months in jail.

Tax payers are the victims of the sponsorship scandal. Personally, I’d like to see the perpetrators locked up for a while.

“To bed without supper” doesn’t quite do it for me.

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2 thoughts on “House arrest for a $1.5M crime

  1. Possibly justice took into account Mr. Coffin’s record of providing ‘kindness to strangers’, if one might reasonably call certain of PM’s minions ‘strangers’.

  2. It depends on what you think the justice system is for:

    If it is to punish wrong-doers, then yes, chain gangs & pick axes are good

    If you think it is to protect society from those that would do it harm, then re-paying the money and a promise not to do it again will suffice

    If you think it is to rehabilitate offenders into useful members of society, then community service & and educational programme on moral, ethics & society sounds spot on.

    The Judge hedged his bets and decided to protect the Canadian society & try to rehabilitate Mr Coffin. Which just shows why Canadians are welcommed in SO many places that Americans aren’t

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