Is it just me, or is it starting to feel like we’ve heard this story before?

Day 3: Liveblogging Schreiber at the Oliphant Inquiry


schreiber3So.  According to Richard Wolson, he’s due to finish up his questioning of the surprisingly resilient Karlheinz Schreiber sometime this morning, at which point he’ll hand the floor over to Team Mulroney lead counsel Guy Pratte, who will definitely have his work cut out for him, make no mistake. Unlike Wolson, he does have a dog in this hunt — in this case, a very specific narrative that has to emerge from the testimony, as far as the relationship between his client and the witness. Which means that he can’t just spend the whole time picking holes in Schreiber’s version of events.

It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t game theory in action; even with the two main players diametrically at odds over what went down, it would be entirely possible for the judge to find both accounts wanting.

Given that crucial consideration, simply destroying Schreiber on the stand isn’t enough. It’s possible, of course, that Pratte will resist the urge to piggyback on Wolson’s meticulous nitpicking of inconsistencies in the various stories Schreiber has told over the years and move swiftly through a very short, targeted line of questioning, simply to get him off the stand, which will allow the inquiry to move on to less wildly unpredictable witnesses.

9:13:53 AM
Another day, another exercise in artfulling dodging the array of morning stand-ups in the hall outside the Victoria room. The sun is bright and the air is sweet, but despite the lure of the great outdoors, the powers that be at the commission still seem unmoved by ITQ’s request to try holding the hearings outside on the lawn. Don’t worry, she’ll keep up her campaign — after all, when it comes to getting to the bottom of murky allegations and shadowy innuendo, sunshine *is* the best disinfectant, right?

All eyes – well, all of ITQ’s eyes, which sadly number just two – are on Guy Pratte this morning, since he’ll soon take over the lectern from Wolson. So far, he seems calm, but still vibrating at a high frequency. He practically hums, even as he sits and waits.

9:32:34 AM
All rise!

And it’s back to the binders – not even a cursory good morning for the witness; Wolson immediately directs him to one of the half dozen binders littering the table. This one, he explains for the benefit of both Schreiber and the rest of us, includes a sampling of letters sent to various governments over the year, all of which seem to feature the word “scandal” in various different settings, with “Airbus”, “Liberal” and any number of other terms interchangeable over the years.

One of these letters, it seems, went to the current resident of Langevin Block; Schreiber can’t recall when he first received a response to his litany of allegations, but claims that there were several replies from the Privy Council, but none from the prime minister himself.

9:37:27 AM
From the Schreiber letters to the Schreiber statement — the most recent one, that is, which was given to commission counsel just last month — a brief and cryptic exchange between Wolson and Schreiber over various accounts over which he claimed to have signing authority; not sure what the relevance is, or will turn out to be, but I’m sure Wolson will get back to it eventually.

9:40:01 AM
And – on to another document – a statement from Frank Doucet that provides a timeline of his work for Bitucan — one of the many Schreiber-related firms. Schreiber takes issue with the dates — he seems to be saying that Doucet started working for him earlier than reported, and that the relationship endured until 1995 “at least”.

Not exactly making it easy to establish a narrative here, is he? All this leaping from decade to decade is making me dizzy. Anyway, we’re finally back to the meetings with Mulroney in 1993, and the “watching brief” that Doucet claims was the reason for the payments to Mulroney. Oh, that’s where we are — sometimes you end up back on familiar ground without realizing exactly how you got there. Anyway, Wolson continues to go through the Doucet memo on the “watching brief”, point by point, almost all of which Schreiber denies.

9:47:31 AM
Off to the Royal York meeting – Schreiber and Doucet – of which the latter “kept notes” – at which the delicate matter of perjury allegedly came up again; Schreiber once again dismisses Doucet’s entire account of the meeting as “nonsense”, although at one point yesterday, he claimed not to remember virtually anything about it, but I guess it would still be possible to recall something *not* happening.

9:49:37 AM
A new meeting – this time on the infamous “mandate” letter – on February 4, 2000, during which Doucet claimed that he helpfully provided Schreiber with a draft of what such a mandate might look like, including services and fees. Y’all remember that document from the Ethics committees, I’m sure, but if not, it’s in one of the binders — which, just like they promised, the inquiry has posted on its website in PDF format.

Anyway, the mandate letter proposal was largely retroactive, although it did make reference to the pasta venture, and the accompanying Doucet notes quote Schreiber as saying Mulroney could be “a great asset” in the brave new world of international spaghetti marketing.

9:54:08 AM
Okay, just to make things more interesting, there are actually *three* copies of the draft mandate document in the binder, two of which have been heavily scribbled on by, presumably, Doucet and Schreiber, respectively. There’s also a clean copy, which Schreiber acknowledges is “partly” correct, as far as the content: the bits about Mulroney working on projects related to peacekeeping and military procurement. But as far as Schreiber was concerned, this was something he would discuss with Mulroney – why go to the doorman when he could deal with the boss? And yes, that’s how he thought of Doucet: the doorman. The doorman with a wall full of pictures of himself and the former prime minister at various events, according to his spontaneous recollection of the decor in Doucet’s hotel room office. (Sorry about that; at a certain point, all these meetings start to blend together.)

Anyway, he met with the doorman for half an hour, took a blank copy of the mandate letter, told him he’d think about it and left.

10:01:32 AM
Is there a graphologist in the house? Schreiber adamantly denies that it is *his* handwriting sprawling all over one of the three mandate documents, although then he seems to admit that it is, yet he has no idea how it got there. Okay, maybe it’s not so much a *graphologist* we need as a hypnotist, trained in the art of plumbing the depths of memory.

Oh, it turns out that everyone was confused over the three letters — and still is, actually. Schreiber doesn’t seem to understand which document Wolson is talking about, and even the judge tries to help out; he (rather unnecessarily, to be honest) then blames Schreiber for looking at the wrong page. In all fairness, it *is* a bit hard to follow when there are three identical documents, two of which have different handwritten notes — and one of which Schreiber apparently added his name while at the Ethics committee.

10:15:53 AM
Even the judge is sufficiently confused by the mysteriously appearing handwriting, which Schreiber acknowledges as his own, but can’t explain in that context — the mandate letter, that is — so Wolson goes through every line of scrawled annotation, and it becomes clear that the only additions that Schreiber is willing to claim are the names of his companies. Which – and if you check the PDF of the evidence, you can see for yourself – is interesting, because actually, those words *doesn’t* appear to be written in the same hand as the rest of the notes: first of all, they’re printed, not cursive, and he — Schreiber — has a very distinctive capital C which appears only in the words that he admits to having written. I’m no expert, but it does seem as though one might be able to clear up whether there were two different note-takers working on this letter, not just one.

10:22:14 AM
Okay, that adventure in amateur forensic handwriting analysis unfortunately resulted in my zoning out for the last few minutes of questioning — Wolson seems to have veered back to the Lavoie interview on the fifth estate and his subsequent correspondence with Mulroney – who, Wolson points out, had come out publicly to suggest that Schreiber should be given the same presumption of innocence to which any other Canadian would be entitled if charged with a crime.

On to the final binder – and the many, many letters that Schreiber sent to the former prime minister, via mail and fax from 2000 on, with few — if any — replies. Sending mail by fax seems so — mid-80s, somehow, but I guess this was before Schreiber had become a convert to the wonderful immediacy of email.

Anyway, as is classic for the genre, Schreiber’s subsequent letters consistently make reference to the lack of reply to his previous missives. Passive aggression isn’t just for exes, I guess — it works for former business acquaintences too! If by “works” you mean “does absolutely nothing to encourage a response”, that is. Also noteworthy in his letters is the continuing “oh, let’s not bring the lawyers into this” theme.

10:31:05 AM
Hey, it’s the now legendary pasta pitch! Ethics committee watchers will recall the almost religious fervour with which Schreiber praised his miraculous pasta machine, which would not only cure obesity but feed the world’s poorest children, while simultaneously enriching everyone who was smart enough to get in the ground floor. Wolson reads from Schreiber’s paen to nutritious, delicious pasta as the witness nods along; it’s difficult to describe the mix of disdain and disbelief that he seems to feel for the witness, who even now nods along in agreement with his own pitch. Whatever you might say about Schreiber, it’s clear he still believes that one day, the right spaghetti will save the world.

And on that note, we break for the midmorning pause. See you in a bit.

10:44:49 AM
Not back from the break yet, but I just wanted to mention something that is confusing me — talk about continuing themes; that’s a constant with this particular foray into liveblogging, and I apologize to y’all for my periodic cluelessness. Anyway, this mandate letter — the copy with all the handwritten additions, that is — does the commission have the original document? I mean, shouldn’t it be obvious if something was added after the fact? It’s impossible to tell from a photocopy, really, which makes this particularly frustrating. Especially when this seems to be turning into Law and Order: Fred Doucet’s Filing Cabinet Unit.

10:55:39 AM
And we’re back, and Wolson directs Schreiber – who spent the entire break with his head down, scribbling notes and going through binders – back to the binder of letters to the former prime minister, which had fallen off somewhat by the time Schreiber took to the airwaves to reveal — well, confirm the revelation — of the payments he made to Mulroney in various hotel rooms over the years.

Anyway, apparently, Elmer MacKay will apparently testify — sidebar: hurray! — about how both Mulroney and Schreiber were complaining to him about the other, and why he didn’t start screening his calls, I just don’t know; I can’t imagine a more uncomfortable and downright annoying position than being in the middle of that feud.

Schreiber confirms that he, at least, was prone to griping at his old pal Elmer about the former prime minister, but Wolson wants to know how he found himself in receipt of an email from MacKay in June 2006, which — and it gets rather confusing here — sort of kind of suggests that Mulroney was willing to take Schreiber’s case to Stephen Harper — who was, at that point, prime minister — if he would provide the necessary letter to Mulroney first. Wow, that’s confusing – and I didn’t even get into all the subplots about the fifth estate and Airbus and the election.

So, why did MacKay send him the email? It was a proposed draft of the letter that Schreiber was to send to Mulroney, which would claim that he — Schreiber — had been misled by the CBC and the fifth estate, and the “sting” against him.

11:10:45 AM
More on that letter to Mulroney circa July 2006 – the MacKay-ized version, but with the more sedate wording proposed by MacKay augmented with Schreiber’s trademark references to an overarching “justice scandal” involving the RCMP, George Pelossi — really, a Larouchian conspiracy arrayed against him. He made the MacKay letter his own, in other words – something that Schreiber happily confirms. This was what he wanted the *current* prime minister to see. According to his statement to commission, however, there were three statements in the letter that were untrue: the bit about Bear Head; his testimony in support of Mulroney as the “best advocate” he could have had, and his ostensible desire to apologize.

11:17:47 AM
Wolson goes through all the add-ons to the MacKay letter, which are typically Schreiberian in scope – really, compared to this witness, Baron Maunchausen was a shy, retiring type – and comments that despite his constant complaints of being “entrapped” by CBC, he keeps going back. Which makes Schreiber laugh – which, in turn, makes Wolson cross; he does not like merriment on the witness stand – and he notes that the network does do ‘very good work’ – even if it does entrap him now and then.

11:22:16 AM
Why, Wolson wonders, would a “pretty intelligent man” – “I know my IQ,” Schreiber responds graciously – who follows politics — why would he write a letter like that? Well, in his world, Schreiber explains, politicians come to you with the strangest requests. “I would have said a lot of things for courtesy reasons,” he tells Wolson, who insists that if you sign a letter, it means you’re telling the truth. To which Schreiber – somewhat refreshingly – delivers a ringing “no”. If every letter signed and sent to a politician was true, “this would be a very different world,” he says.

Oh, and as far as *he* – Schreiber – knew, Stephen Harper *wanted* to hold an inquiry into the whole thing. It was all part of his plan to clean up Ottawa — and that’s why Schreiber was happy to sign a letter that wasn’t entirely true; it was a letter from one politician to another.

11:28:52 AM
And another letter from Schreiber to Mulroney – this time, one that purported to include copies of the dispatches he’d sent to the current PM, as well as Peter MacKay and – somewhat inexplicably, Kevin Sorenson. What, no Vic Toews on the distribution list? Wasn’t he the justice minister at the time?
As had become the rule rather than the exception, neither this nor the subsequent faxes to Mulroney elicited a response, but that didn’t stop Schreiber from sending them along — including one that referred to “unbelievable new material” obtained with one David Corbett — no, not sure who that would be.

Oh, there’s Vic Toews, finally — a letter to, that is, not a reply *from*.

Did Schreiber really believe that Harper would be keen to launch a full fledged inquiry into the “political justice scandal” that he was convinced — is still convinced, as far as I know — had been going on for decades, and was still thriving? What on earth did he think would happen when it came time to answer the most basic questions about, well, the matter under investigation at *this* inquiry: the business relationship between Schreiber and Mulroney.

11:37:55 AM
More crackpottery found performance art as Wolson reads the highlights from Schreiber’s 2006 campaign for great justice (scandal) in his trademark anodyne style; Schreiber appears blissfully ignorant of how utterly bonkers it — and, by inference — he sounds.

11:44:01 AM
By early 2007, there was apparently a twist in the tale – or a new branch on the conspiracy theory – in which Mulroney and Harper were revealed to have joined the legion plotting against Schreiber; Wolson wonders if he still believes that, and Schreiber seems to say that he does.

And with that, Wolson is finished with his questions; there’s a bit of back-and-forthing between the judge and Pratte over the timing of the next round of questioning, and eventually, they agree to break for lunch, to return at 1:30pm, which will hopefully allow him to finish up by the end of the day. Which sounds just fine to ITQ – so I’ll see y’all at the appointed hour.

1:18:34 PM
After a lovely repose on the lawn — really, I’m starting to warm to the plan to make Old City Hall the temporary refuge for the displaced and dislodged when the Hill restoration project finally gets around to fixing up Centre Block — ITQ is back at her battle station, waiting for the afternoon festivities to get underway. Apparently, we’ll soon get the witness list for next week — presuming everyone is done with Schreiber by that point, of course; I think there’s a fifty/fifty chance that he’ll still be on the stand come Monday. That will be exciting, yes?

The rumour is that the next few witnesses will be from PMO and PCO, and will address the matter of that Schreiberian correspondence, but I’ve no idea whether that’s true or not. I don’t expect it will be all that interesting, to be honest, since the extracts of letters that we’ve heard so far would suggest that there was little to differentiate notes from the desk of Karlheinz Schreiber from the sackloads of conspiracy-theorizing manifestos that the PM — really, any PM — receives on a regular basis, but we’ll see.

1:27:38 PM
We’re getting so well-trained, us inquiry watchers; we don’t even have to be told to rise when the top of the judge’s head appears over the bannister at the front of the room.

Anyway, welcome to An Afternoon With Guy Pratte, who has taken over the lectern, and is currently doing the usual housekeeping that marks a change in questioners; new binders, new documents, all of which has to be filed with the registrar and given the official seal of approval. There are letters from various people — Yvon Roy at PCO, Allan MacEachen — and a Globe and Mail article from November 2007 by Greg McArthur – who is right over there! Hi, Greg! – and has something to do with the A-word that rhymes with “hairmuss”, which the inquiry isn’t allowed to mention.

1:34:20 PM
And suddenly, we’re into questioning — well, to Pratte directing Schreiber to various documents, at least, including his affidavit related to his lawsuit against Mulroney, launched in Ontario in 2007, which was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds soon after. Pratte is absolutely snarling under his measured tones; he suggests that the lawsuit was, in fact, what got the ball rolling as far as this particular inquiry. Schreiber, who is trying to size up this new adversary, is markedly more taciturn than he was this morning. Pratte asks whether Schreiber has provided all the relevant documents to the inquiry, as promised, and he says he does — at least, as far as his understanding.

“Well, let’s see what we’ve got,” Pratte announces. It’s on.

1:39:45 PM
And it’s time for another installment of “This is your life, or at least a list of your many, many companies, Karlheinz Schreiber”, with new host Guy Pratte, who asks about his early years in Canada, his first encounter with Brian Mulroney, during his pre-leadership days. They met at the Ritz Carleton four or five times, and — that’s about it. Pratte doesn’t seem to have his evidence quite as meticulously crossreferenced as Wolson, as far as being able to bark binder and tab at the witness, which means it takes a little bit of time for Schreiber to dig up the September 10, 2004 Eurocopter transcript.

Man, I hope this turns out to be worth it. There’s something about Guy Pratte that makes it seem as though he’s always on the verge of an aHA of earthshattering proportions.

Okay, he – Pratte – wants to talk about Schreiber’s Eurocopter era answers with regard to those early meetings.

1:47:03 PM
Alright, so the upshot of this line of questioning, from what I can tell, is that Schreiber said one thing about his relationship with Mulroney during the Eurocopter case, and is apparently saying a new one now. At the time, he told the court that he only saw Mulroney a few times – three, tops — before he became leader of the opposition, but in his 2007 affidavit, he claimed to have “several” meetings with Mulroney at the Ritz Carleton. Apparently, the five or six meetings that he now claims is considerably more than the two or three meetings he estimated at the time.

Oh, and this was at the bar of the Ritz Carleton, so there were other people there. Schreiber isn’t sure whether it was the bar or the lounge. Well, it wasn’t a room, was it, Pratte needles. But these were purely social encounters – no business was transacted, correct? “I had no business with him at that time,” Schreiber confirms. Social — but also political, he notes. It was to support his “political work” – not to “sing” for him.

He supported Mulroney’s 1976 leadership bid, Pratte notes, which Schreiber seems to dispute. “Sounds too early for me,” he tells Pratte.

1:54:25 PM
We interrupt this liveblog for the witness list: Monday – PCO, Pat MacAdam, Robert Hladun; Tuesday – Alford, Paul Smith, Harry Swain
Wednesday – Elmer MacKay by video (yay!)
Thursday – William Kaplan, Paul Terrien.

Meanwhile, Pratte and Schreiber are labouriously going over the various times he’s met with Mulroney over the years, from the Ritz Carleton to the Peter Munk dinner – which was a “coincidental encounter”, according to Pratte. “It was simply running into each other, exchanging pleasantries.” No business transactions, in other words, although Schreiber recalls that the two arranged to meet later, after Mulroney would have returned from Florida.

2:00:27 PM
Finally, we make it to Mulroney’s ascension to prime minister — and breakfast at Sussex Drive with Schreiber, Mulroney and MacKay. The two never met alone, and Mulroney never accepted Schreiber’s invitation to *his* home, Pratte contends, which produces an intriguing reply from Schreiber: He claims that there *was* a one-on-one meeting in Mulroney’s office, with no one else present, but he doesn’t want to talk about it now. Really? What would be a better time? Because I’m sure we’d all like to hear that story.

2:06:21 PM
Pratte reads aloud from one of Mulroney’s rare replies to a bit of Schreibermail, in which he confirms *a* meeting, not meetings in plural, which I guess is the point of this entire tangent. “You’ve exaggerated, haven’t you?” Schreiber allows that he has, and Pratte presses the point home: he has exaggerated what Mulroney’s letter actually said. Somehow, Schreiber manages to wrest control of the mic away from Pratte, and he explains that at the time the affidavit was prepared, he was in a detention centre, which meant it was drafted by his lawyer and he “didn’t check” to make sure it was accurate. Thanks to the mic, the sound of Pratte’s subsequent sigh fills the room.

Wait, are they talking about Airbus? How did that happen? It’s all in the context of Schreiber calling people “friends”, like Bill McKnight. He – Schreiber – points out that he called everyone involved in the party a friend, rather like how lawyers refer to each other thusly.

What about Alexander Haig? A friend, Schreiber points out, which produces an odd side bicker about the meaning of friendship – or at least, the word “friend”, and Schreiber suggests that he – Pratte – ask Mulroney what kind of friend he – Schreiber – was. The kind who hands over cash-stuffed envelopes in hotel rooms? I give up. We’ll just have to wait for the former PM to take the stand.

2:16:23 PM
I’m sorry, must I really transcribe Schreiber’s theories on marketing nuclear submarines? I guess I must. Anyway, they’re still going through Schreiberfiles – at the moment, a letter in which he delivers his now familiar rant on peacekeeping, and Canadian soldiers. “It’s all for altruistic reasons,” Pratte sneers. Whether for the troops or the children or jobs for Nova Scotia, Schreiber is all about helping others. But what about the $1.8 billion he stood to make if the project worked out?

Pratte prepares to pounce: Does he have a single document in which he discloses his interest? Oh yes, Schreiber responds happily, although his explanation doesn’t satisfy Pratte, not surprisingly. “I had a wonderful life before I came here,” Schreiber points out – it was all going swimmingly until he came to Canada, and the “Canadian event” took place. “Personally, I don’t care too much about money,” he insists. “You speak about a world you don’t know about.” This leaves Pratte temporarily mute, and Oliphant jumps in; he, too, wonders whether Schreiber ever mentioned the $1.8 billion before his testimony this week. Only to his business partners, Schreiber says — he doesn’t run around advertising his business. “I revealed it to the commission,” he says.

2:24:07 PM
For the record, I bet Schreiber would have cheerfully bragged about the billion with a b dollars he would have made from the Bear Head project to anyone who asked, on the fifth estate or anywhere else. He’s not exactly shy when it comes to talking about his business triumphs.

2:25:24 PM
Schreiber denies that he knew the project was dead in Nova Scotia by 1992, but Pratte persists: He did, too, know. No, he didn’t! Yes, he did! Anyway, by that point, all of his efforts went to Quebec, Pratte plows onwards, and Schreiber doesn’t dispute.

2:39:29 PM
On and on and on it goes; honestly, it’s not totally clear to me what Pratte is trying to establish at this point – beyond the contradictions already highlighted by Wolson, that is. Eurocopter, the killing of the Bear Head project by Mulroney himself, which no one — not Schreiber, not Fred Doucette, not Frank Moores –  believed when the allegation first surfaced in 1995. There are tabs, there are pointed question, there is a constant difficulty with figuring out just what document is under discussion at the moment.

2:41:57 PM
Ahh, there we go; during the Eurocopter trial, Schreiber was asked if he’d hired anyone from the former government after 1993, and he said yes – Mr. Mulroney. “You hired Mr. Mulroney,” Pratte repeats, and then skips to the next salient nugget, in which Schreiber told the court how nice it would be to have a former Canadian prime minister working on his peacekeeping project. I’m not sure if Pratte is extracting anything new, as far as disclosures or admissions, and frankly, this is probably the aspect of Schreiber’s stories on which he is most consistent — well, by his standards: the mechanics behind the agreeement to work together after Mulroney had left office, which was finalized at Mirabel, not Harrington, and not with anything so conventional as a contract or even a mandate letter, since *that* was drafted years after the fact.

2:49:35 PM
Ahh, I knew that was too easy — there were two agreements, Schreiber explains – an agreement to agree, reached at Harrington Lake, and an agreement proper, which was made at Mirabel, unlike what Schreiber claimed in his affidavit — which, Pratte suggests, was a deliberate change, since at the time, he was trying to get the Ontario court to hear his case, and Harrington Lake is, of course, in Ontario.

And on that note – break! See you in fifteen minutes.

2:53:46 PM
Wait, except Harrington Lake *isn’t* in Ontario, so — how does that theory even make sense? Sigh. Maybe it’ll all become clear after the break.

3:10:24 PM
You know what’s easier than waiting for the judge to appear? Just standing for the last five minutes of the break — after escaping to the roof to soak up some of those delicious afternoon rays and gossip with the rest of the media encampment.

So, for those of you watching along at home/work/some bar where you’ve managed to convince them to flip from sports to CPAC: How do we think the remarkable Mr. Pratte is doing so far? (I probably won’t get to read comments until later today, but I’m curious.)

3:14:21 PM
Okay, we’re back — again, for the last time today, I suspect — and it’s back to the Eurocopter transcript, and that meeting at Mirabel. Speaking of which, Pratte wonders, did Schreiber give him any pamphlets or flyers on the vehicle that Thyssen was planning to produce? Schreiber says that he may well have done, which is serendipitous, as Pratte now directs him to a copy of the brochure in question, which looks “very familiar” to the witness. “When you look at the end of the information,” he points out, there is a letter from the US undersecretary of defence circa June 1993, so it was “brand new” information.

3:18:53 PM
The brochure, Pratte points out, also includes reference to the UN, which Schreiber confirms, noting that it was designed to be a peacekeeping vehicle.

I’m — not really sure what that was supposed to establish, but Pratte seems satisfied.

3:20:55 PM
And now, to the notes from an interview with William Kaplan – who will take the stand next Thursday, as the schedule currently stands – in which Schreiber talked about Mulroney as a good person to represent Thyssen.

Oh, and the Breton account? It didn’t refer to Mulroney, did it? Not sure if Pratte anticipated this answer, but Schreiber says that it did indeed – Breton and Brian Mulroney. Of course, that’s not what he — or rather his lawyer, Edward Greenspon — claimed in a 1999 letter to the CBC, in which he – Schreiber – said it was “false, malicious, wrong” and “reckless”. Is what Greenspon wrote  — on Schreiber’s behalf — correct? No, no. Schreiber has a problem with it. “At that time, he was right,” he tells the court. So according to Schreiber, it started as the Breton account – for Cape Breton – but eventually represented *both*.

3:26:38 PM
And now, a message from Team Mulroney, received just this minute by BlackBerry:

Mr.Mulroney’s spokesperson, commenting on the surprising developments in Karlheinz Schreiber’s testimony at the Oliphant Inquiry today said:

“The central matter of public trust at issue in the Inquiry was Karlheinz Schreiber’s assertion, made in his affidavit of November 2007, that he and Mr. Mulroney had entered into an agreement at Harrington Lake while he was still Prime Minister in 1993.

Today, Mr. Schreiber admitted that was not true and that the agreement was made at Mirabel on August 27,1993, two months after Mr. Mulroney had left office.

The core foundation of Mr.Schreiber’s accusations against Mr. Mulroney has been destroyed by his own testimony under oath today.”

Okay, ITQ back now, with just this comment: The final sentence of the above seems to be a bit of a reach, particularly given the layers of agreements-to-agree-in-principle between the Harrington Lake and Mirabel meetings, and the lack of any actual signed contract from either encounter. But that’s just us. We obediently copy and paste, you decide!

3:29:29 PM
Meanwhile, the questioning over the first CBC broadcast – 1999 – and the Hladun letter, and – really, if the underpinnings of the entire inquiry have been ripped asunder by Schreiber’s admission, wouldn’t you think Pratte would claim victory and let us out early, but no, we’re still grimly parsing fifth estate-related correspondence, and another apparent contradiction in dates that, as per Pratte, suggests that the meeting at the Savoy on possible perjury couldn’t have taken place when he claimed that it did.

3:35:51 PM
A moment of actual – not nervous – levity when Auger asks the judge to see if Schreiber needs a brief respite from questioning. The witness – who actually looks surprisingly fresh from back here – admits that he’s missed his nap, which prompts Oliphant to muse that sometimes, when the evidence is particularly dull, he *doesn’t* miss his nap during the afternoon, although not, he assures us, today.

Few among us would blame you if you did, judge. Although livebloggers are, alas, prohibited from zoning out — unless it is to squint at PDFs of photocopied memos from Fred Doucet, or play the occasional game of hangman.

Anyway, we’ll be back in ten.

So that was interesting — Robin Sears held a scrum during the break — really, he just delivered his statement, as helpfully relayed to y’all above, and fielded questions, many of which were along the same lines as mine, to wit: Wasn’t there an agreement to agree at Harrington Lake? He did well – heck, he usually does – but I don’t think his view that the whole ball of string has been unwound and revealed as a heap of loose ends has entirely persuaded the assembled media masses. We’re so contrary that way.

Oh, and there were a few questions about this mysterious meeting at Mulroney’s office, but he batted them away, pointing out that Schreiber wouldn’t talk about it. When he does, they’ll comment.

3:54:13 PM
And we’re back – with an asterisk. According to Auger, Schreiber is willing to go for another few minutes, but not til 5pm, since that would be too tiring. He offers 4:15 pm, and Pratte – who sounds peeved – says he’d rather adjourn til tomorrow, when the witness “is up to answering his questions”. More back and forthing, and an observation from the judge that we *did* have a shorter lunch. It’s been a long day – a long *three* days for Schreiber – so he thinks it would be best to adjourn now, and pick up tomorrow at 9:30.

3:57:38 PM

Oh, apparently Vickery – who represents the AG – won’t be asking any questions, and the other two lawyers — Houston and Auger — will be less than two hours. So we should be on to the next witness on Monday as scheduled. Wee!

3:59:32 PM
And that’s all – wait, not quite all, Oliphant brings up the whole thing about Harrington Lake and Mirabel both being in Quebec, and Pratte explains that it has to do with whether Mulroney was prime minister at the time — it’s the date, not the place, that matters.

Anyway, that’s all for this afternoon. I’ll see you all bright and early tomorrow morning. This is turning out to be fun, isn’t it? Well, for a parliamentary off-week, that is?


Is it just me, or is it starting to feel like we’ve heard this story before?

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