77

Unbelievable

Six years later, Mulroney has yet to give us a convincing account of his deal with Schreiber. Can we really leave it at that?


 

UnbelievableHe destroyed himself. Nobody did it to him. He was simply asked, respectfully, to explain himself. And he could not. If the former prime minister of Canada is now widely suspected of corruption, it’s all his own work.

Brian Mulroney was not on trial before the Oliphant inquiry, nor was the commission counsel, Richard Wolson, his prosecutor. Wolson’s job was simply to test the witness’s story, to see how well it stood up: whether there was any evidence to support it; whether it conflicted with others’; whether there were any internal inconsistencies. But mostly it was to let the witness tell his story. And the more Mulroney talked, the less believable he became.

Indeed, his story started to fall apart under questioning from his own lawyer, in his first two days on the stand. He started by expressing his regret. Was it for taking three payments totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from Karlheinz Schreiber, a notorious international arms dealer and self-admitted briber of politicians? For failing to keep any record of these dealings—no invoices, no receipts, no expenses, no bank accounts, and no tax returns, or none until six years afterwards? For telling a court, in examination for his celebrated 1996 libel suit against the government of Canada, that his relationship with Schreiber amounted to “a cup of coffee . . . once or twice”?

Not as such: it was for the “circumstances” surrounding these “inadequately documented arrangements,” which gave rise to “suspicions as to their propriety.” For the rest, he offered no apology, and no explanation. Or none that made any sense. The reason he had tried to keep the whole business a secret, he maintained, was because of the “enormity” of having been accused of taking kickbacks from Schreiber in a 1995 letter from the Justice Department seeking access to Schreiber’s Swiss bank accounts. The experience had so “scarred” him, he said, that “it explains my conduct in trying to keep private the private commercial contract I entered into after I left office.” He was convinced that, had his dealings with Schreiber come to light, they would have further inflamed the speculation and “innuendo” surrounding him.

That may explain why he did not tell anyone about it in 1995, or at any time from then until 2003, when the story of his dealings with Schreiber first broke. It doesn’t explain why he was acting so furtively in 1993—dealing in cash, keeping no records, not declaring the income, not even telling his own accountant. At that time, no one knew about Schreiber, or the $20 million in secret commissions he’d been paid by Airbus to deliver a $1.8-billion sale of 34 aircraft to Air Canada. By Mulroney’s own account, he knew Schreiber then only as a respectable businessman. So why the cloak-and-dagger act at that time?

Nor does it explain why, to this day, he has failed to give a convincing explanation of what he did for the money, or why he was paid in cash, or why he kept it in cash, or what he was doing having dealings with a man like Schreiber. Mulroney has had six years to come up with a good explanation. He was given six days on the witness stand at the Oliphant inquiry—two with his own lawyer, four under Wolson’s cross-examination. And yet he failed to deliver. It isn’t that he did not perform well: in its own way, it had a certain magnificence. It’s just that he hasn’t got a good story to tell. And so, under oath, he told the inquiry, and the Canadian people, the only story he had. The one that doesn’t stand up.

It isn’t just weak on this point or that. It rings false in just about every respect. His story is improbable, implausible, inconsistent, unsupported by a single document, almost entirely uncorroborated—and contradicted on point after point by people in a position to know the facts. And the more he attempts to rationalize these multiple inconsistencies, the more improbable his story becomes. Where it’s his word against another’s, he denies the exchange took place. Where there are documents to support the other’s account, he has no recollection of them. Where he appears to have given false testimony, it was said in a particular context. Where he contradicts himself, his previous statement was a mistake. Where his own spokesman contradicts him, he was mistaken. And when he can’t do anything else, when he can’t deny, or forget, or fudge, or otherwise explain away incriminating bits of evidence, when we get right down to the rock bottom fact that he took the cash—well, you see, it was an “error of judgment.”

The rest is bitter denunciations of his critics, irrelevant anecdotes about his childhood, long defences of his record, flagrant appeals for pity, attempts to be charming, endless repetition of the same points, the odd tear, the occasional smear. For long stretches during his testimony, you got the feeling that he was trying to talk out the clock. For the rest, he gave every sign of making it up as he went along.

To wit: he did not know Schreiber before he was prime minister, though his former appointments secretary, Pat MacAdam, swears they go way back, and though there is documentary evidence of their contacts. Nor did he know Franz Josef Strauss, the chairman of Airbus—he did not even know Strauss was the chairman of Airbus—though again MacAdam says they were old friends.

He did not know that Schreiber helped bankroll the dump-Clark campaign at the 1983 leadership review. Indeed, he denies that anyone paid to fly in delegates to vote against Clark—though his own official biographer writes of the campaign having “$250,000 in cash” for the purpose.

He had only a “peripheral” relationship with Schreiber through his years in office. Though he met with him at least a dozen times, sometimes on short notice, sometimes in his own home, he has little or no recollection of any of them. Though Schreiber would dutifully write him a letter after each meeting, confirming details of this, assuring him that he would follow up on that, he did not see any of these. Though it appeared Schreiber enjoyed remarkable access to a sitting prime minister, he assured the inquiry that it was no more than he gave to “hundreds of Schreibers.”

Though he was an admitted early supporter of the Bear Head project, a scheme Schreiber was promoting to build armoured vehicles in Nova Scotia, he “killed the deal” when he found out how much it was going to cost—though there is no evidence that he did, though the project did in fact continue, and though the only person he claims to have told to cancel it, his former chief of staff, Norman Spector, denies that he told him any such thing.

He did not know the kind of man Schreiber was—not in 1993, not until his arrest on fraud and tax evasion charges in 1999. Though Schreiber had been the subject of a judicial inquiry in Alberta as long ago as 1981, though Peter Lougheed had ordered his cabinet to have nothing to do with him, though close advisers like Paul Tellier considered him a liar, he knew nothing. Even the 1995 letter of request to the Swiss did nothing to shake his faith in Schreiber’s integrity.

He made no deal with Schreiber until their Aug. 27, 1993, meeting. Schreiber showed up for the meeting with $75,000 in cash—Schreiber’s bank records say $100,000—with no knowledge that Mulroney would agree to anything. He had only a moment’s hesitation about dealing in cash, reasoning that this was the way “international businessmen” from Europe did things. Only later did he discover that the reason they did so was to pay bribes—though the practice had been the subject of intense international publicity since the 1970s, and though he himself had helped spearhead a series of domestic and international anti-money-laundering initiatives. He was not troubled by the optics of agreeing, shortly after leaving office, to represent the Bear Head project on Schreiber’s behalf, having discussed the same project with the same man at length while he was in office.

The “watching brief” to which he agreed was not, as Schreiber maintains, to lobby Canadian governments but foreign ones: to persuade the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to support the purchase of the vehicles for peacekeeping missions. Some of the countries to which he claimed to have made representations, notably China and Russia, have no record of international peacekeeping. Others, France and the U.S., have no record of supporting other countries’ defence industries over their own.

He can cite no living foreign official with whom he discussed the matter—with the possible exception of the Chinese vice-premier—but can offer verbatim recollections of his conversations with dead statesmen. No one else saw him working on the file. Bear Head executives were unaware of it. The Canadian ambassador to China not only says he had no knowledge of it, but that it is inconceivable that he would not: if a former Canadian prime minister were proposing to discuss arms sales with Communist China, the Canadian government would wish to know, and if he had discussed it, the Chinese government would have told him.

And the only witness to support any of it is Fred Doucet—former chief of staff, faithful friend, fellow recipient of Schreiber largesse, and crippled with such massive memory loss on any point that might incriminate him that he could not even offer the name of his own secretary. The same Doucet who was faxing off memos to Schreiber describing precisely how many Airbus planes had been delivered, the day Mulroney was taking his first delivery of cash—Airbus cash, according to forensic accountants who followed the money trail—from Schreiber.

Though Mulroney did not know its provenance, accepting the cash, he now realizes, was a mistake. Yet he accepted not one, but three such payments from Schreiber, over 16 months. And having accepted the cash, he offers no explanation whatever for why he kept it in cash: why he left the money in a safe in his Montreal home, or in a safety deposit box in New York, rather than deposit it in a bank account, where it would earn interest. The closest we got was this gem of a non sequitur:

Q: Why didn’t you put the money in the bank?

A: Well, I brought it home and I left it there.

Nor does he explain why he kept no other records of it. His explanation for why he failed to disclose it on his income tax returns until six years later—that it was a retainer, and as such did not have to be declared until then—conflicts with the reality that it was declared under Revenue Canada’s voluntary disclosure program for late filers. His repeated insistence that he had declared the “full” $225,000, and “paid full tax on it,” is belied by tax records that show he paid tax on only half that amount.

But then, Mulroney is never more opaque than when professing his desire for full disclosure. He justifies his misleading testimony in the 1996 deposition as the literal truth. But he didn’t just tell the court “we had coffee,” and leave it at that. That would be the literal truth, if a partial one. No, he went on to describe the coffees in some detail, even mentioning that Marc Lalonde had done some work for Schreiber, without revealing that he himself had done the same. He says he “would have” answered a direct question on his dealings with Schreiber (the dealings he “had never had,” as he also testified in 1996), if they had asked. But we only have his word for that. And while he also claims he “would have” given the police all of his documents (“anything you need from me, from bank accounts . . . to tax returns to whatever”) if only they had agreed to his offer of “full and complete co-operation,” we know now what his bank accounts and his tax returns would have revealed: nothing.

And we’ve only just covered the highlights! The “fourth article” he claimed the Globe and Mail agreed to publish: there was no such agreement, as he later admitted under Judge Oliphant’s questioning. The “leading political figure from Cape Breton” who was allegedly the intended recipient of the money in the infamous “Britan” account: also false, in the judgment of the forensics.

At some point, we are entitled to conclude Mulroney is not telling us the truth, even now. What he has admitted to—belatedly—is damning enough. But no one believes him even then. And the reason no one believes his story is that it’s so unbelievable.

It took some time. For as long as he refused to tell his story, people were naturally inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He used that, sought refuge in it, took advantage of it. Even after he told his story the first time, before the Commons ethics committee, you still found a good many people willing to take his “explanation” at face value. As in: he sure showed poor judgment, taking cash from a man like Schreiber. Or: a former prime minister, you’d think he’d have known better. People do not want to believe that a former prime minister of Canada would lie to them, especially under oath. But eventually, especially after this last performance, the reality sinks in: no one has that poor judgment. No one is that naive, least of all Mulroney. After his ethics committee appearance, you still saw TV reporters doing the “ho-ho, Lloyd, it was vintage Mulroney blarney” routine. No one is saying that now.

But do we just leave it at that? If we conclude that Mulroney is telling us a pack of lies, what do we do about it? Or never mind we: supposing Judge Oliphant, in his final report, comes to the same conclusion, even if phrased in more lawyerly language—as in, “Mr. Mulroney’s testimony must be set aside” or “I attach no weight to his evidence.” What then? Anyone who imagines we could just leave it at that—with a former prime minister of Canada found by a judicial inquiry to have lied under oath about a cash deal with an international arms dealer—has not thought this through.

People have to take the next step. They have to ask themselves: if this is the best face he can put on it, how much worse is the reality? If this is his cover story, what on earth is the real story? It’s possible to imagine why he might have lied before—to keep the story from coming out. But now the story has come out. So why would he be lying now? People do not do these kinds of things without a good reason—a reason that makes it worth the risk, not only of loss of reputation, but of possible legal repercussions. And the reasons that come to mind are not appealing.

We have to follow through. We have to confront some unpleasant possibilities. If we conclude he was not paid all that cash to sell peacekeeping vehicles to Boris Yeltsin, we have to ask the next logical question: so what was the money for?


 

Unbelievable

  1. That was an impressive summary, almost forensic in its depth of analysis.

    "It isn't just weak on this point or that. It rings false in just about every respect. His story is improbable, implausible, inconsistent, unsupported by a single document, almost entirely uncorroborated—and contradicted on point after point by people in a position to know the facts. And the more he attempts to rationalize these multiple inconsistencies, the more improbable his story becomes."

    "People have to take the next step. They have to ask themselves: if this is the best face he can put on it, how much worse is the reality? If this is his cover story, what on earth is the real story? It's possible to imagine why he might have lied before—to keep the story from coming out. But now the story has come out. So why would he be lying now?"

    That's why it should be up to a jury in the context of a criminal trial to judge the veracity or otherwise of Mulroney's stories, not a government appointed inquiry. It's not too late.

    • Hear Hear!

  2. Andrew Coyne makes a compelling case for suggesting that Brian Mulroney's 'limited hang-out' (to borrow a Watergate-era phrase) is, in fact, a kind of compromise in which mildly unplatable confessions are put on the table in order to hide and keep hidden something truly ugly.

  3. Insightful, and logical, Mr. Coyne. I hope that further action will be taken, but that may be a naive wish. The ugliness should not remain buried. I wnder what the inquiry will recommend, if anything.

  4. Insightful, and logical, Mr. Coyne. I hope that further action will be taken, but that may be a naive wish. The ugliness should not remain buried. I wnder what the inquiry will recommend, if anything.

  5. The only item , That was missed, with the Media and the commitee.
    That the were not wearing there HOODS and ROBES !!
    It's the Canadian WAY ! Eh.

  6. So what if the testimony doesn't make a stitch of sense? Our heroic RCMP couldn't get to the bottom of it and so all of this is a complete waste of time and money.

    • You're right, Mulroney should pay his own legal bills, not the taxpayer.

      • And you say that because he was put on trial and not convicted of anything? Gotta love justice in your world. Cash is right, even if you think something is fishy, here in Canada we have this requirement called "evidence".

        You make no sense most of the time, but that doesn't mean that you're a criminal.

        • I don't see why the taxpayer has to pick up the bill for lawyers to show Mulroney how to lie in a more sophisticated way. He should be put on trial, as I have pointed out above and in many other comments on this subject. The evidence is there. It might even give him a chance to say that he is 'innocent' at the end of it, which this inquiry certainly will not do.

          • You cannot put someone on trial without evidence of a crime. There is no evidence, duh! Strange behaviour is not evidence!!!! What exactly would you charge him with? Accepting money that somebody gave him? When was that declared a crime? Each time I'm at the ATM is a crime?
            He was investigated in the 90s! And because there was no evidence he was able to sue the police for damages!! Now we had this inquiry, which turned up absolutely no additional evidence.

            What alternate universe are you living in?

          • There certainly is evidence of a crime under Section 121(1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada, viz. a cash payment from a commission agent for the Airbus sale, paid in part from the actual commissions from Airbus. And Mulroney was not investigated, the RCMP folded their tent when they messed up the international rogatory letter. If memory serves correctly, the revealation about the cash payments from Schreiber in hotel rooms came after the RCMP chucked it in, so there is new evidence. The contradictions in the story from Mulroney over why he accepted the money and what it was for, revealed during the Oliphant inquiry, are further new evidence. So there is lots for the RCMP to investigate. There is nothing stopping them from resuming their investigation.

      • i totaly agree with you , he needs to be accountable and pay his own legal bill , why should we foot the bill yet again , this was a royal waste of time and money .

  7. Thank you for this Andrew.

    Clear, unbiased, non-partisan reality.

    Kudos to you.

    • Unbiased, non-partisan reality, PLEASE!!!!!!

  8. Further action? How many investigations, trials and inquiries are enough for you? 100?

  9. As many as it takes for Mulroney to tell the truth.

  10. His explanation was adequate but he is guilty no matter what he says. The MSM want him to be guilty or there is no story. A biased media? You betcha!!

    • Is that the best you can do?

    • I agree, there is a general Conservative bias to the media. Clearly this is why the media "want him to be guilty". They are following the Harper playbook. After all, Harper called the inquiry and did everything possible to distance himself from Mulroney, even putting the story out there that he had not renewed his party membership. It is certainly a PMO-inspired conspiracy.

      • The media is doing their very best to bury the enormous news story that is the fact that a two-term Prime Minister clearly took cash bribes from an extremely shady international arms dealer. That's why the Globe buried it on the inside pages while they devoted the headlines to the preposterous Nannygate manufactured scandal.

  11. My impression is that Mulroney lied about his relationship with Schreiber in his defamation suit, took $2.1 million under false pretenses and in so doing obstructed an RCMP investigation into Airbus. And now 'we' hold our noses and move on?

    Somehow that stinks even more.

  12. I think most can agree that Mulroney is lying. As you say Andrew, there is just no ring of truth, and no way of backing up anything he says.
    The question is: if the former PM is willing to stand there and let himself look this bad in public, how much worse must the truth be that he is hiding?

  13. Thanks for this Andrew. I expected to have to wait for Justice Oliphant's report, but you have neatly summarized what it is about this affair that demands a criminal investigation. Possibly his report will make that recommendation.

    • no, there will be no criminal investigation…that is the nature of an inquiry of this type and like andrew said on cbc the other day the institution and the people it represents are absolved of any wrong for who and what they represent

  14. Better late than never…

  15. "People do not want to believe that a former prime minister of Canada would lie to them, especially under oath. "

    Low voter turnout probably has as much to do with public faith in the integrity of our politicians as with anything else.

  16. Andrew ..what gives you the right to to be judge and jury on this matter. Is this not what us taxpayers paid 18 million dollars to decide? You and a lot of the comments on your "article" go back a long way in the hatred for Mr. Mulroney that never went away. What irks me so much is the fact that Cretien made Justice Gomery look like a fool and got away with it and Canadians laughed right along. The 11 years that he wasted in Government and his underhanded dealings with hotels, golf courses, and sponsorship is of no concern unless you have a crusader like Andrew Coyne to hound they till they die.__

    • Sir, I will tell you exactly what gives him and the rest of Canada the right to judge Mulroony. We have 2.1 million reasons. By his own admission he he lied and evaded and misled the government of Canada, the RCMP and Revenue Canada. Took bags of cash in hotel rooms(last time I looked, only drug dealers and gun runners usually do that), not former PMs. By his own admission he hid income from Revenue Canada for six years, then got a sweetheart deal, when he knew the truth was about to come out. Sir, you are obviously a tory hack. Dragging up Cretian's malfeasance, by compairison is like bitching about a parking ticket. Oh, and by the way, Cretian never sued us for 2 mill because he was investagated about something. Only slimy Mulroony could make Cretian look like a pillar of integrity. Get real.

      • For the record it's "Chretien", and none of my fellow Canadians "laughed right along".

        • It truly is a sad commentary that individuals one would have to agree are well educated, relatively intelligent would involve themselves in such unsavory activities that we have seen Mr. Chretien and Mr. Mulroney undertake. What drives people like this–who are daily in the public spotlight–to think these activities will remain hidden. I would concur that Mr. Mulroney and his cash dealings are truly unbelievable. So Mr. Mulroney –clearly a flawed individual, with an ego the size of the old NWT is exposed. It actually overshadows the good he did. He championed massive change in Canada. The GST-despised at the time—is leading edge. Try working and living in the U.S. where this reform has not occurred. Its a nightmare for everyone. In addition no one can dispute the benefits of NAFTA on the Canadian economy. Meech Lake for all its detractors was an honest attempt to move the country forward. We need bold thinkers. It truly is a crazy world we live in!

    • We mustn't forget, though, that it was Mulroney's government who established the huge, generic budget that was to later be used in the Liberals' sponsorship scandal. So, the question becomes: How was that money being used by Mulroney's conservatives?

  17. You can see why Harper dissed him; such a disgrace. Accepting bribes, perjuring himself, costing taxpayers millions. The next step would be to try him for fraud and conspiracy, possibly treason.

  18. I watched Brian Mulrony testify on TV and can only agree with Andrew Coyne. My jaw dropped when I heard Mr. Mulrony say that "he had done nothing illegal", reminds me of other notable quotes," I am not a crook" Richard Nixon, and " I never had sex with that woman", Bill Clinton". Brian insults our collective intelligence with his selective memory, sweet tax deal, and he is unbeleivable. He is doing it to himself. Andrew called it right.

  19. I have questions that I have not seen addressed:

    By what means did Mulroney transport the cash back to Canada?

    Will Mulroney's tax payer paid inquiry legal fees be charged to Mulroney as a taxable benefit ?

  20. I am neither a Tory hack nor a Liberal hack so therefore I hope you will read my comment in the context intended….What happens with our elected Leaders affects all Canadians but I always belived that writers for papers were unbiased and refrained from name calling. I truly belived that Andrew Coyne stepped over the boundry of fact and his own interpretation of happenings….I will never read or listen to Mr. Coyne's comments again and use them to guide my decision making. Mr. Mulroney was wrong …but Mr. Coyne used that opportunity to besmirtch our former Prime Minister and his whole family, Gone is my confidence in Macleans.

    • It is you who is biased. You are a dingus. How is that for bias?

  21. I for one am waiting to wave a heartfelt good bye to the plane carrying Schreiber back to Germany …

  22. I couldn't agree more. The sooner he is sitting in a Bavarian jail cell, the sooner he will start singing like a canary. Perhaps then we will find out what the relationship between Schreiber and Mulroney really is all about. It goes back at least as far as the funding for Mulroney's coup d'etat in his own party.

  23. Yes, youse on Mulroney's public relations team must be very sad that Coyne would point out the very obvious contraditions and weaknesses in Mulroney's story.

  24. I think the media should be investigated for all their lies too. But that inquiry would take a 1000 years.

  25. If this had been my father I would have told him to stop the lies and face the truth about yourself and tell it as it was. You may get a smidgen of respect back if you do that and then repay what you took from the taxpayers of Canada under dubious testimony. Walk tall Dad and let your family out from under a nasty cloud.

  26. I used to avoid anything that Andrew Coyne wrote. But I have recently come to appreciate some of his views on the CBC political panel and I most certainly agree with this Macleans commentary.

    I would like to know how Mr. Mulroney's children were able to use $1000 Canadian bills in New York? Presumably they would have to exchange for U.S. currency. This would probably require answering some questions and or forms. Even cashing $1000 Canadian bills in Canada is difficult.

    • ever heard of laundering moolah? that is what criminals do to make dirty money look legit

  27. A more thorough investigation and criminal trial would also, at minimum, likely expose the other $75k Shrieber said he paid Mulroney ($300k vs. $225k). Then you definitely have a case for tax evasion – a well-tested way to put someone in jail.

    This whole case is sad for Canada, but exposing this __ makes for interesting times; its nice to see another greedy arrogant neo-con forced to get really humble.

  28. Bravo Mr. Coyne! Well done! Canadians owe you a debt of gratitude for the articulate and thorough manner in which you have laid out the case for pursuing this matter further and calling Mr. Mulroney onto the carpet for his truly "unbelieveable" performance at the Inquiry.

    Here are the types of people or "businessmen" who deal in large sums of cash with no records / receipts / documentation to verify their transactions:

    1) Drug dealers and their customers.

    2) People who sell stolen merchandise out of the back of a truck in an alley and their customers.

    3) Other national or international figures who are committing crimes.

    4) Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada.

    In other words, people deal in large sums of cash with no records or documentation for one reason: They know they are doing something illegal and/or unethical and they do not want others to find out about it.

    I am embarrassed that Mr. Mulroney was once the prime minister of my country, and I have absolutely no respect for the man.

  29. I read this article by Andrew Coyne in my hard copy of Macleans and although I am not a supporter of Mulroney, I don't agree that what he says is so unbelievable. In fact I listened to most of the testimony on TV and I found Mulroney quite truthful and actually rather amazing in remembering details of what happened in 1993 and later. I am about Mulroney's age and I would never have been able to remember what happened in my dealings so many years ago. In fact Schreiber certainly did not give a better performance at the inquiry with his statements.

    Personally, I am not much bothered by all of this. It's interesting, but not very relevant at this stage. Overall, however, I think that Mulroney's government was better that Harper's, and thus I am willing to forgive Mulroney his mistakes after he left office. In my view, the free trade agreement that he reached with the U.S. (almost single handedly due to his friendship with Ronald Reagan) is of far greater importance than any of his subsequent misdemeanors.

    • George, I am not disagreeing with you on Mulroney's legacy and track record of making this country a better place. He did that in spades.

      I am not possessed by "subsequent misdemeanors" demons. I am bothered because I can no longer believe either the "subsequent" (to holding public office) or the "misdemeanors" elements. He has totally bobbed and weaved and the BEST version of events he can come up with makes sub-zero sense to any one with any. Hence my repeated questioning: if this, silly and embarrassing as it is, is the version of the truth he wants us to swallow, just how bad must the real honest truth be? And that brings me a good deal past "misdemeanors."

    • I wouldn't be so hard on yourself George.. after all, it's a lot easier to remember things when you just made them up five minutes ago.

  30. In most countries where crime is punished and not rewarded….This man along with all public servants who accept bribes, kickbacks or look the other way, should be in jail or better still, hanged – since we entrusted them!

    Legal Corruption – Only in Canada, eh? PITY!…hopefully the name of my new book.

  31. I think the time and expense of this inquiry (and any subsequent court proceedings that may arise from the Justice's recommendations) is worth the money spent.

    If we wish to be a modern, just society, we must demonstrate that no citizen, even if he/she is or was the prime minister of the country, is above the law and will be called to account for his/her actions should there be reasonable grounds to investigate such a matter. Mr. Mulroney's ridiculous performance at the Inquiry should be reason enough to conduct further court initiatives to try and find out what really happened.

    The ironic thing about this is that Mr. Mulroney has tarnished his 'legacy' further by making these outrageous claims about what transpired in his cash-pocketing adventures with Mr. Schrieber. I suspect if he had just come clean, told the truth about the matter, and asked Canadians for forgiveness, his reputation and image in the eyes of citizens (which his is apparently obsessed with) may have been considerably enhanced. However, perhaps the whole truth is so appalling that he simply couldn't level with us on the matter as his it may just have been too slimey and unforgiveable…?

  32. I think the time and expense of this inquiry (and any subsequent court proceedings that may arise from the Justice's recommendations) is worth the money spent.

    If we wish to be a modern, just society, we must demonstrate that no citizen, even if he/she is or was the prime minister of the country, is above the law and will be called to account for his/her actions should there be reasonable grounds to investigate such a matter. Mr. Mulroney's ridiculous performance at the Inquiry should be reason enough to conduct further court initiatives to try and find out what really happened.

    The ironic thing about this is that Mr. Mulroney has tarnished his 'legacy' further by making these outrageous claims about what transpired in his cash-pocketing adventures with Mr. Schrieber. I suspect if he had just come clean, told the truth about the matter, and asked Canadians for forgiveness, his reputation and image in the eyes of citizens (which his is apparently obsessed with) may have been considerably enhanced. However, perhaps the whole truth is so appalling that he simply couldn't level with us on the matter as it may just have been too slimey and unforgiveable…?

  33. I think the time and expense of this inquiry (and any subsequent court proceedings that may arise from the Justice's recommendations) is worth the money spent.

    If we wish to be a modern, just society, we must demonstrate that no citizen, even if he/she is or was the prime minister of the country, is above the law and will be called to account for his/her actions should there be reasonable grounds to investigate such a matter. Mr. Mulroney's ridiculous performance at the Inquiry should be reason enough to conduct further court initiatives to try and find out what really happened.

    The ironic thing about this is that Mr. Mulroney has tarnished his 'legacy' further by making these outrageous claims about what transpired in his cash-pocketing adventures with Mr. Schrieber. I suspect if he had just come clean, told the truth about the matter, and asked Canadians for forgiveness, his reputation and image in the eyes of citizens (which his is apparently obsessed with) may have been considerably enhanced. However, perhaps the whole truth is so appalling that he simply couldn't level with us on the matter as it may have been too unforgiveable and/or criminal…?

    • Don't be ridiculous. What outrageous claims did he make? OK, he took $75,000 in cash from Schreiber three times. But he was senior partner of Ogilvy Renault at the time and I am sure his annual salary was over a million dollars. So the 75 grand was peanuts for him. Second, Schreiber knew very well that Mulroney after a big defeat of the Conservatives had no influence within the new Liberal government and could not be of any value in Canada. However, he was still highly regarded abroad and particularly in the U.S. and it is only in foreign countries that he could be of some value as a lobbyist. Thus, Schreiber's contention that Mulroney was hired to lobby in Canada does not hold water. It is true that Mulroney's reputation has been crushed, but this is mostly due to the fact that his reputation outside Quebec was a big zero in advance. In Quebec, however, he has still a very good reputation.

      • Are you kidding George…? Mulroney claiming he made an "error in judgement" in taking $75,000 in cash not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions…? Name me a reputable businessman / consultant who does this…? Mulroney was not some naive farmboy new to the ways of big city business. He was a former prime minister of Canada and lawyer who was well versed in the ways of business. To claim he made an 'error in judgement' on three separate occasions is outrageous, period. He and Schrieber knew very well what they were doing: not leaving any paper trail with regard to their dealings.

  34. I think the time and expense of this inquiry (and any subsequent court proceedings that may arise from the Justice's recommendations) is worth the money spent.

    If we wish to be a modern, just society, we must demonstrate that no citizen, even if he/she is or was the prime minister of the country, is above the law and will be called to account for his/her actions should there be reasonable grounds to investigate such a matter. Mr. Mulroney's ridiculous performance at the Inquiry should be reason enough to conduct further court initiatives to try and find out what really happened.

    The ironic thing about this is that Mr. Mulroney has tarnished his 'legacy' further by making these outrageous claims about what transpired in his cash-pocketing adventures with Mr. Schrieber. I suspect if he had just come clean, told the truth about the matter, and asked Canadians for forgiveness, his reputation and image in the eyes of citizens (which his is apparently obsessed with) may have been considerably enhanced. However, perhaps the whole truth is so appalling that he simply couldn't level with us on the matter as it may have been too unforgiveable…?

  35. “…his former chief of staff, Norman Spector, denies that he told him any such thing."

    Andrew your article suggests that Spector denied that Mulroney told him to cancel the Bear Head project. It turns out that isn't true. According to Spector's testimony on April 30 at the Oliphant Enquiry he clearly states that Mulroney killed the project when Spector informed him of the $765 million it would cost. This conversation was on Sunday December 16, 1990 while they were traveling to a speaking engagement. The next day, a Monday, Spector passed this information on to the other key players in his office including Fowler, Tellier and Gower.

  36. I took an informal survey at a recent gathering of people's views of the inquiry. While all believed that Mulroney was guilty of corruption, they still held that the inquiry was a waste of taxpayer money because it was unlikely to uncover the truth. Why are people reluctant to make every possible effort to lay bear a possible corruption scandal? The answer: because people cynically believe that all politicans are corrupt. Yet, people have repeatedly expressed how embarrassing it was to watch Mulroney dissemble. Why were we embarrassed? Embarrassment is a tacit acknowlegement of our failure as voters to perform the proper due diligence on our elected leaders even as we write-off their wrongdoing to avoid seeming naive. How many corruption scandals will it take to get Canadians more engaged in the political process and motivate journalists who are too busy being sophisticated and clever to actually do some investigative reporting? Mr. Coyne and the few like him excepted.

  37. What about getting 75 or 100 of those C$1,000 bills from a EUROPEAN bank? I don't get how no eyebrows flickered over that detail.

  38. Brian Mulroney ought to have quit while he was ahead and cut his losses. In a act of hubris that was Shakespearean in its scope and irony, he was, with his self serving testimony, the architect of his own demise. By his vainglorious and narcissistic obsession with polishing his legacy, he blindly brought about the very reversal of that objective. And shedding crocodile tears for his family name was nothing more than cheap theatrics, and painful to watch. When you're in a hole, stop digging.

  39. This man should be in jail…but being a white collar criminal…will justice prevail? His lies are so obvious…and have been for years..but there is more and more overt evidence…at least he should be responsible for restituion……what a scum bag…

    • I guess you read "On The Take" by Stevie Cameron and believe everything she said. But let me tell you, Mulroney's downfall had nothing to do with Stevie's allegations. It was due to the introduction by him of the GST which no one wanted. Even the Senate at the time would not vote for the tax and Mulroney had to go a the Queen to name a few more senators to pass the tax law. That really made Mulroney an anathema with most Canadians. But in the end, the GST proved to be very effective and made it possible for Paul Martin to eliminate the deficit within a few years and put Canada in good economic shape.

  40. But what truth are you seeking? Neither Schreiber nor anyone else stated that these payments were for the Airbus contract. He himself killed the Bear Head project because it was too costly and so the payments could not have been for Bear Head. To me Mulroney looks bad simply because he accepted cash payments in hotel rooms without then confirming receipt thereof and outlining what he was supposed to do for them. For a lawyer and a former Prime Minister it looks very unprofessional to say the least. He acknowledged that he erred in doing so and regretted it very much. However, there was nothing legally wrong or criminal in what he did and I hope that after this inquiry he will be finally left in peace.

    • George, you are making perfect sense based on the publicly available evidence. But that's the problem. The "truth" I am "seeking" isn't any particular gotcha scenario. It's just that the "truth" being offered to us is not at all credible. I don't know if it's Airbus, I don't know if it's something else. But what Mulroney is serving up is proving impossible to swallow, even to me, who has always been a very big fan of his record of achievement.

  41. I'd like to make one other point if I may:

    Regarding Mr. Mulroney's response in the Airbus inquiry that he met Mr. Schrieber on occasion "…for coffee": Mulroney knew exactly what he was doing here: If he had just answered yes, he had met with Mr. Schrieber before, the logical follow up question that surely would have been asked would have been "What took place at those meetings?". The sly Mulroney, by adding "….for coffee" in his initial reply, was pre-empting the follow up question by giving this as the "reason" up front. But of course, when Mulroney was testifying, he knew that the main event at that meeting was the transfer of an envelope stuffed with cash, not that they may have had coffee when the cash exchanged hands. Mulroney's answer is akin to a couple of hitmen discussing a future hit at a pub claiming that the reason for their meeting was to drink a couple of beers together.

  42. Mulroney also felt it was perfectly reasonable to leave hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around at his residences and/or safety deposit boxes. Get real, Ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffett if they leave hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around in this fashion. Answer: No. They, like all other above-board businesspeople, at a minimum, keep this kind of money in an interest yielding instrument like short term bonds, other money market vehicles, or even a chequing account (in fact, they would surely not accept busness transaction payments like this in cash to begin with, so the point is basically moot). I am sure Gates and Buffett, like all other human beings, keep a reasonable amount of cash in their wallets and use debit cards, credit cards, cheques, bank drafts, bank wire transfers, etc. when transacting in significant amounts of money. Give your head a shake George and join us here in reality.

  43. Great article. A few years ago, I found myself working with Mr. Doucet on a project. The experience made me think of the old adage "you're only as good as your friends"

  44. I share your sentiments, Mr. Coyne, as I often do (despite not sharing your political views in general). I am also a journalist, and I know that, in articulating what "everyone else is thinking" with your assessment of what the Oliphant Inquiry has heard from this former PM can, if done improperly, lead to libelous consequences. You successfully avoided that pitfall (take note, Coyne detractors on this thread: Andrew's words are all fair comment) and pointed your readers to that inevitable question: What was that money FOR?
    It is not an unreasonable question by any means, and to ask it does not belie any bias for or against Mulroney. At the very least, it acknowledges what this inquiry is all about – the dueling accounts from both Schrieber and Mulroney on this exact question, the contention over the exact amount of money aside. Given what we've seen and heard, it is in the public interest to have a judge weigh out these two accounts and determine what the next course of action is in getting to the bottom of this whole affair. If that takes the form of criminal investigations, hearings and/or trials, then so be it. It doesn't matter what a couple of journalists think about Mulroney's dubious testimony or if it is indicative of some "awful truth" that we haven't heard about yet. What matters is that we did not get an answer to that key question and, moreover, that this whole process has produced more questions than answers.
    The point of the article is that we must, as citizens of a democratic society, get answers to these questions, which are, by the by, matters of public interest since a public figure is involved. To just leave the issue hanging there, giving in to our cynicism that "all politicians are corrupt/immoral" and bemoan the taxpayer expense made to uncover little more than what has thus far been intuited would be the real waste of time and money. If Mulroney and others really are corrupt and selling the public packs of lies, then we CAN hold them to account. If not to satisfy ourselves for having our trust broken by these guys, then we must pursue this road, whether it leads to punitive action or no, so that we can show those who would be corrupt in future that we CAN and WILL hold them to account, thus deterring bad behavior and defending our democracy.

  45. My goodness! Thank you for the insight. I watched some of the inquiry on television. It was a sleepy affair, for me. But I did find it somewhat fascinating to witness Mr. Mulroney squirming under scrutiny. He obviously was being far less than forthwith. Again, thank you for your critical analysis of the proceeding. You have helped me understand the matter with clarity and in "context." What a slease-ball, eh? Mr. Mulroney has disgraced himself. He should probably spend some time behind some bars. With "leaders" such as Mr. Mulroney there is no small wonder in regard to the low-esteem and cynicism directed at Canadian politics. In spite of all this, he will probably receive the "Order." But great work gang. My applause.

  46. Now, that the dust has settled.
    I applaud this excellent abbreviated account of Brian Mulroney's testimony at the Oliphant Inquiry.
    There has been a lot of talk about the cost to the taxpayer. I think it was worth every penny.
    This was a valuable exercise and lesson for us all.
    I think Jean Chretien should be next. I think we need to clean house. If we ever were naive enough to think that our leaders were honest citizens; we certainly have lost that illusion now.
    The only reason Mulroney was caught was due to Karlheinz Schreiber's documented banking transactions. Mulroney did not leave a paper trail; but Schreiber did…
    I hope this will result in a criminal charge, as it should. I also wish further inquiries be done to expose the most flagrant of our corrupt leaders, past and present.
    As Canadians citizens and taxpayers, we should send a clear message; don't do it!

  47. Canada For Sale call 1-800-Mulroney, remember that?

    We the citizens of Canada disagreed with him then and now it's biting him in the butt. It doesn't surprise me in the least that Mr. Mulrony is still in the spot light after all these years. Stacking the Senate to push through Free Trade "KNOWINGLY" against the wishes of the Canadian citizens screams deafeningly to me that this former Prime Minster was not acting appropilately for an elected position.

    This seems to be an ongoing problem for Canada and if it costs taxpayers another several hundred million to get the point across to those in elected positions, that Canada is a democracy and when elected you do as the people wish even if you believe it to be wrong. (I believe Mr. Mulrony had an ulterior motive and I would like to know what it was)

    The cost to Canadian taxpayers just for the stacked senator pensions is astronomical. (I would be happier to pay for my mistakes than to pay for someone else's mistakes or someone else's ulterior motive.)

    I would like to see Mr. Mulroney in a criminal court to answer all those unanswered questions, I also believe treason to be on the list as he KNOWINGLY went against the Canadian taxpayers wishes. Cease all his assets, strip him of Canadian citizenship, Lock him up, throw the key away and let him cry some more about his fathers defamed name. I have "ZERO" respect for any elected politician who overrides the electoral tax payer for another agenda, be it his or for any other reason. In Canada we elect our leaders to do our wishes, thats democracy.

    This would be a GIANT step for democracy.

  48. So what's happening with Mulroney now?…In addition to all this slime he had the balls to sue the Canadian public over defamation and received a settlement in the Millions didn't he?…what about that as well?…A conculsion is needed to this story…if he's a criminal as all appears than this is Canada's WaterGate which has yet to be tried in court is it not???

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