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Alfonso Gagliano represented the Montreal riding of Saint-Leonard in the House of Commons for 18 years, first winning a seat in 1984 in an election that saw the Progressive Conservatives win the biggest majority in Canadian history.

TORBEN CHRISTENSEN

Alfonso Gagliano, a former Liberal cabinet minister who played a key role in the sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s, has died.

He was 78.

His daughter Imma Gagliano confirmed his death, which occurred Saturday.

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Gagliano represented the Montreal riding of Saint-Leonard in the House of Commons for 18 years, first winning a seat in 1984 in an election that saw the Progressive Conservatives win the biggest majority in Canadian history.

After notching multiple cabinet posts in the Liberal governments of the 1990s, Gagliano stepped down as MP in 2002 to accept an ambassadorship, but was dismissed by then-Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2004.

His fall from grace was triggered by the sponsorship scandal, which revolved around a system of kickbacks for government contracts as part of a federal program initially created to boost Ottawa’s presence in Quebec after the 1995 referendum.

Gagliano was a central figure in the scheme during his time as public works minister under former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

After retiring from public life, Gagliano ran a vineyard that bears his name in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

“The love he had for his family and friends, along with his kindness, loyalty and wisdom, inspired so many of us and will live on in our hearts forever,” Imma Gagliano said in an e-mail.

“He was a proud Quebecer, Canadian and Italian with a strong passion for winemaking. Let us raise a glass in his honour, may he rest in peace.”

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