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Ottawa-based Communication Canada lifted its moratorium on the Government of Canada Sponsorship Program yesterday and outlined an interim plan for the next fiscal year that will eliminate the use of outside communications agencies. "The moratorium I imposed on May 27 was intended to give me the opportunity to assure myself that the program could be operated on a sound basis in the public interest," said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister responsible for Communication Canada. "I am convinced that this is the case. The past difficulties which have triggered public concern have related to the program's previous delivery system through outside agencies working on commissions, and not to the legitimate events or community groups which have sought to benefit from sponsorships. Accordingly, as we renew the program on an interim basis, communications agencies will no longer be involved." The sponsorship program will now be administered internally by officials of Communication Canada. Sponsorships will be negotiated directly with event organizers and made enforceable by contracts between the organizers and the Department of Public Works and Government Services. In addition, the department has clarified its requirements regarding program objectives, eligibility and selection criteria. The department will also hold back half of an expected sponsorship until it is satisfied that a given plan has been fully implemented. Furthermore, the sponsorship program will now be monitored by Consulting and Audit Canada, an agency of the department. More changes to the program may be on the way. President of the Treasury Board Lucienne Robillard is expected to make recommendations before September.

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