Born in Siculiana, Italy, Gagliano immigrated to Montreal in 1958. His political career began in 1977 when he ran for a seat on the then Jérôme-LeRoyer school board, which no longer exists and used to cover the East End of Montreal Island. In the 1984 federal election, he ran for Parliament for Saint-Léonard—Anjou narrowly defeating the Progressive Conservative candidate. It was one of the few ridings that the Liberals retained, as they were swept out of power in a massive Conservative landslide. He was re-elected in the 1988 and 1993 elections representing Saint-Léonard, and in the 1997 and 2000 elections representing Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.
In 1965, Gagliano married Ersilia Gidaro and with her bore three children; Vincenzo, Maria and Immacolata.
From 1996 to 2002, he served in various cabinet posts including Minister of Labour, Deputy House leader and the Minister responsible for Communications Canada, Canada Post, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada Lands Company Ltd. His most controversial positions were as Minister of Public Works and Government Services and as political minister for Quebec.
Following his career as a cabinet minister, Gagliano was appointed as the Canadian ambassador to Denmark after having been rejected by the Vatican for a similar posting. However, he was dismissed from this position on February 10, 2004 by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, on the advice of Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, amidst widespread speculation that during his time as public works minister he was actively involved in the sponsorship scandal.
On May 27, 2004, Gagliano filed a more than $4.5-million lawsuit against Prime Minister Paul Martin and the government. The suit accused the defendants of deliberately attacking Gagliano's reputation and alleged that he was illegally and unjustly fired. He sought compensation for wrongful dismissal, damage to his reputation and lost income. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
Justice John Gomery's initial report on the sponsorship scandal places much of the blame on Gagliano, making him the highest ranking Liberal to be charged with deliberate dishonesty, rather than negligence. Following the initial report, Paul Martin expelled him from the Liberal Party for life.
On November 17, 2004, an article in the New York Daily News alleged that Gagliano was associated with the Bonanno crime family of New York City. In the article, former capo Frank Lino, turned informant for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, is quoted as saying Gagliano was first introduced to him during a meeting with other mob members in Montreal in the early 1990s. Lino also stated that Gagliano was a made man of the Mafia. It was not the first time Gagliano's name has been linked to organized crime. In April 1994, La Presse reported that Gagliano was the accountant for Agostino Cuntrera, cousin of cocaine baron Alfonso Caruana, also a native of Siculiana, who was convicted in the gangland slaying of Paolo Violi in Montreal in 1978. Gagliano denied any links to the Mafia. Since August 2008, Gagliano resides with his family on a vineyard in Dunham, Quebec he purchased.
In September 2006, he argued that Liberal leadership candidate Joe Volpe was the victim of the same kind of anti-Italian sentiment that ended his own political career.
Electoral record (partial)
|1993 Canadian federal election: Saint-Léonard|
|Bloc Québécois||Umberto di Genova||12,879||27.35||$16,644|
|Progressive Conservative||Tony Tomassi||4,021||8.54||−28.70||$36,146a|
|New Democratic Party||David D'Andrea||583||1.24||−8.94||$0|
|Natural Law||Marlène Charland||499||1.06||$269|
|Total valid votes||47,090||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||1,342|
|Electors on the lists||60,710|
|a Does not include unpaid claims.|
Source: Thirty-fifth General Election, 1993: Official Voting Results, Published by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Financial figures taken from the official contributions and expenses submitted by the candidates, provided by Elections Canada.
|1988 Canadian federal election: Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel|
|Progressive Conservative||Marc Beaudoin||17,055||37.24||$43,281|
|New Democratic||Michel Roche||4,663||10.18||$742|
|Total valid votes||45,796||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||1,018|
|Electors on the lists||62,845|
|Source: Report of the Chief Electoral Officer, Thirty-fourth General Election, 1988.|
|1984 Canadian federal election: Saint-Léonard—Anjou|
|Progressive Conservative||Agostino Cannavino||23,275||39.29|
|New Democratic||Terrence Trudeau||7,506||12.67|
|Rhinoceros||Denis La Miuf Ouellet||2,152||3.63|
|Parti nationaliste||Pierre-Alain Cotnoir||1,634||2.76|
|Commonwealth of Canada||Jean Vigneault||145||0.24|
|Total valid votes||59,232||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||1,163|
|Electors on the lists||81,646|
|Source: Report of the Chief Electoral Officer, Thirty-third General Election, 1984.|
- CGAs in the House, CGA Magazine, May 1998 Archived 2013-04-14 at Archive.today
- "Gagliano and Canada's other ambassadors". CBC News. February 10, 2004. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- Gagliano says he's victim of PM double standard Archived February 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, CTV, April 26, 2005
- "Gagliano lawsuit against Paul Martin, government dismissed". cbc.ca.
- "STOOLIE: CANADA POL IN MOB". nydailynews.com. 18 November 2004.
- "Gagliano denies ties to crime family". CBC News. November 18, 2004. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- Appleby, Timothy (June 23, 2001). "A battle won in the war against drugs". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- "History – Gagliano Vineyards". vignoblegagliano.com.
- "Volpe victim of racism". Times Colonist. Victoria. September 25, 2006. Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- The Rothschilds of the Mafia on Aruba, by Tom Blickman, Transnational Organized Crime, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1997
- 'They have to stop dirtying my name,' says Gagliano The Hill Times, November 22, 2004
|26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien|
|Cabinet posts (2)|
|Diane Marleau||Minister of Public Works and Government Services
|Lucienne Robillard||Minister of Labour
|Fernand Robichaud||Secretary of State (Parliamentary Affairs)
|Special Parliamentary Responsibilities|
|Fernand Robichaud||Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
|Parliament of Canada|
| Member of Parliament for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel