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‘These dealings do not reflect the highest standards of conduct’


 

Justice Oliphant’s public statement on his findings in the matter of Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber is here.

His full report, in four volumes, is here.

Reviews from the Globe, StarCanwest and CTV.


 

‘These dealings do not reflect the highest standards of conduct’

  1. Anyone organizing a pool on the number of hours before Mulroney files his first lawsuit?

  2. So, what if anything are the consequences of "inappropriate behaviour?" At the very least Canadians should expect the return of the $2.1 million judgment against the government of Canada.

    • Isn't that a bit difficult, though, because Mulroney's lawsuit, and the subsequent settlement, were really focused on Airbus skullduggery? Whereas Oliphant here (partly circumscribed by the terms of reference), as I understand it, didn't really have getting to the bottom of Airbus skullduggery as part of his terms of reference.

      • Oliphant does seem to have accepted that the source of the funds was Airbus, even if there is no evidence Mulroney knew that. That would seem to make it appropriate for the RCMP to investigate Mulroney's involvement vis a vis Airbus, as would his close relationship and ongoing secret business dealings with the person at the centre of the Airbus scandal. An investigation might have cleared Mulroney, but his lawsuit prevented that. As Oliphant says, Mulroney's actions are what ultimately has damaged his relationship, not RCMP inquiries.

      • Anyway, settlements of civil lawsuits tend to be very difficult to get overturned. For one thing, it's standard practice in the settlement of a civil lawsuit like this for both parties to sign comprehensive releases (the main effect of which is to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reopen the proceedings or make any future claims, etc.).

        • Yes, but it burns that someone was able to avoid criminal investigation with a civil proceeding, based on an, it appears now, undeserved reputation.

          • btw, someone in another thread has posted that Mulroney donated the money he received in the settlement to charity. That's news to me. I have no idea if that's true — but if it is, that certainly adds an interesting twist to trying to retrieve the $.

          • Mulroney himself said the money went to pay lawyers and legal costs.

          • And you can take that statement to the, uh, bank!

    • We have a retired judge saying that Mulroney was, at best, less than forthcoming in his responses to questioning during discovery examination before plea. But he (Oliphant) was also expressly instructed (and repeatedly stressed today) that he was to find no civil or criminal wrongdoing. The two are hard to square.

      This finding alone MIGHT make it worth chasing him down for a rebate of the two-ish million, or a re-do of the case. If anybody believes it's worth it.

      (Updated correction of "discovery" term to be consistent with Oliphant's text, as I am ignorant as to the definitions of law that might make these two terms totally distinct concepts).

  3. I'm fairly certain that all of this is somehow Ignatieff's fault.

    • Not to mention a sign that Justice Oliphant clearly hates our troops.

      • It's Chretien's fault he didn't scrap Mulroney's GST. THAT'S why we're in this mess.

        Oh and troops in the streets. Don't forget the troops in the streets!

        • And don't forget national security and illegal coalitions!

          • Separatists! Do not forget the separatists.

          • See what happens when you reopen the abortion debate??

            Happy now folks?

          • HAHAHA You guyz kill me!!

            Taliban Jack must have some hand in it.

          • You guys have no clue. You sound like you have been out of the country for thirty years. Probably just in it for yourselves

          • BCer, just you wait till we're done messing with you.

  4. It's Muroney's fault, he asked for it!

    Nov. 12, 2007: Mr. Mulroney demands a full public inquiry, saying it is the only way he can clear his name:
    “Only then will the whole truth be finally exposed and tarnished reputations restored.”

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/05/31/timeline-

  5. A lot of the reaction so far on here seems to suggest that the report was bad for Mulroney. However, hasn't Mulroney already essentially admitted that his conduct was inappropriate, and that it did not reflect the highest of standards?

    As far as I can tell, the worst coming from the report is that Mulroney violated a rather vaguely worded section of the ethics code, which basically states that elected officials have to conduct themselves to to the highest of standards.

    In other words, is there anything from this report that will permanently stain Mulroney's reputation even further than before? I don't know.

    Regarding Adscam, Gomery specifically cited criminality. That is a lasting legacy of that inquiry. Not sure if there's a similar "smoking gun" in Mulroney's case — although the underlying behaviour of taking gobs of cash in envelopes is something he'll never outlive. But, again, we already knew that before this inquiry.

    • Who said anything about Adscam?

        • Of course you did.

          Look everybody, a distraction!

          • Hardly a distraction. It's putting the wording of one big inquiry in the context of another.

            Gomery cited actual crimes, Oliphant did not.

            How isn't that precisely relevant to the point I'm making?

          • My mandate, for valid reasons, prohibited me from making any finding as to civil or criminal liability on the part of anyone. I have been careful not to use language that would even hint at such a finding.

            On hard-to-find page 2 of Oliphant's statement today.

          • a) That was Oliphant's choice.

            b) It still doesn't not detract from my point.

            No damning language in this report, damning language in the Gomery report. Again, not a distraction.

            The buzzword being used in the media today is "inappropriate". That's not a biggie, people. Like I said, Mulroney already conceded as much.

            In fact, some of you might want to question Oliphant's decision to use such delicate language. My reading of his mandate suggests that he could have gone further without making findings of criminality. Indeed, isn't that what Gomery did?

          • Respectfully, your comment in a) is not at all accurate. Commissioners are not permitted to set the terms of their own inquiries, and Justice Oliphant did not set the terms of his inquiry; these were set by the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the government, and were based on a report by David Johnston. From the terms of reference here: http://www.oliphantcommission.ca/english/Terms%20

            (l) direct the Commissioner to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization;

            That's pretty unequivocal right there.

            With respect to your statement that Justice Oliphant used delicate language, well, that delicacy hardly prevented him from doing a point-by-point dissection and rejection of Mr. Mulroney's testimony on all points except for two: that he and Mr. Schreiber did not reach an agreement while he was prime minister, and that the money was supposed to be used for international lobbying.

            In terms of something that might be a "biggie," I would refer you to Justice Oliphant's rejections of Mr. Mulroney's explanation of his testimony in the libel suit against the government of Canada. Justice Oliphant was prevented by his terms of reference from determining whether Mr. Mulroney perjured himself. But a rejection of his explanation for the disparity between his statement under examination and their actual business relationship is quite telling.

          • With respect, it is precisely accurate. How Oliphant decides to adhere to the mandate of the inquiry is of course his choice.

            Again, I cite the Gomery inquiry. Did he not have a similar mandate, yet did he not specifically cite criminal activities? It's not a conclusion of any sort, simply a statement of the facts of the inquiry.

            I agree that Oliphant hammers Mulroney, especially with regard to the testimony. But it doesn't make for big headlines. It's complex and nuanced, as opposed to the wording that Gomery used, which included specific references to crimes, and even involved holding politicians to be "responsible", including Chretien.

            As I said from the beginning, there's nothing really new in this report. Mulroney said he acted foolishly, and numerous commentators, including Andrew Coyne, pointed out the falsehoods in his testimony during the inquiry.

            So, in the end, the biggest buzzword used to describe what Mulroney did was "inappropriate". Who didn't know that before the inquiry?

            I'm not defending Mulroney. I'm just a bit surprised at the reaction to the report by many. I thought that the findings weren't explicitly damning, or at least could have been a lot worse. And, again, I use Gomery as a baseline. I mean, were his terms of reference altogether different than Oliphant's?

          • I think I've better addressed the points on the difference between the terms of reference of the Gomery and Oliphant inquiries in my comment here, so I won't belabor the issue in this particular branch.

          • and I responded to that post of yours.

            Again, I think you're splitting hairs. Whatever the reason, the Gomery report was far more damning. You may argue that the deck was stacked that way. Still.

            And, again, in no way am I defending Mulroney's actions. But there's nothing really new in this report. No dots connected. No damning conclusions.

    • Look at the text about Mulroney's self-serving obfuscation during the discovery phase of his own civil suit against the federal government. It's about as close as you can get, I would think, to yelling PERJURY when you are expressly prevented from doing so. Cup of coffee, indeed…

      As bad as his reputation was before the Oliphant Commission, that particular finding jumps out as a (well-deserved) additional knock down a peg. And, I submit, it deserves an investigation.

      • Can you cite the relevant passages? Thanks.

        • See pages 13 through 15 of Justice Oliphant's "Final Statement" released today. He is describing the testimony as "examination before plea," and if that is different than discovery, I misspoke above.

          For Mr. Mulroney to attempt to justify his failure to make disclosure in those circumstances by asserting that Mr. Sheppard did not ask the correct question is, in my view, patently absurd. It was not Mr. Sheppard's question that was problematic; rather, it was Mr. Mulroney's answer to the question. What the question called for was a clear, complete, forthright answer. Some may suggest that Mr. Mulroney's answer was not complete, while others may say it was not forthright. It is sufficient for my purpose to say that Mr. Mulroney's answer to Mr. Sheppard's question failed to disclose appropriately the facts of which Mr. Mulroney was well aware, when such disclosure was clearly called for. And that answer was not forthcoming from Mr. Mulroney.

          • Is it so hard to post a link? Otherwise, I have no idea what you're quoting.

          • Dennis, the link is at the top of this page, as provided by Mr Wherry

          • OK, it's actually p. 36 of the executive summary, for anyone who wants to find it quicker.

            But still, can Mulroney be charged with perjury as a result of this? Because, even though strongly worded, Oliphant doesn't go that far.

            Which is kind of my point. There are no "smoking gun" words in this report. Whereas, if you take Gomery as an example, there were references to crimes, and specific ones at that.

            I'm just saying.

          • Well, now you're changing the question, which, originally, was:

            In other words, is there anything from this report that will permanently stain Mulroney's reputation even further than before?

          • No, I'm not. If the word "perjury" was in it, the answer would be "yes". That it is not suggests to me that the answer isn't as obvious as you think.

            There are no buzzwords in this report, other than "inappropriate", which Mulroney conceded long ago, no?

          • Now you're changing my answer, which was:

            It's about as close as you can get, I would think, to yelling PERJURY when you are expressly prevented from doing so. Cup of coffee, indeed…

            Assuming you are not wilfully trying to change the subject as some sort of hired PR-flack for Mr. Mulroney, I will carry on a conversation with you long enough to remind you that Justice Oliphant was expressly instructed NOT to use words like 'perjury." It is the height of self-serving double-talk to wander about celebrating the lack of Criminal Code vocabulary now…

          • You know, for someone who's trying to make legal accusations against Mulroney, I suggest that you be more careful about the kinds of accusations you make against me. It might give you some more credibility.

            Nowhere did I change your answer, nor did I change my question. I've been consistent throughout. I have yet to see explicitly damning language in this report. I might be using different words each time, but so what? Just attempting to get one consistent message across.

          • Sigh. One. Last. Try.

            Justice Oliphant was expressly instructed NOT to use words like 'perjury." It is the height of self-serving double-talk to wander about celebrating the lack of Criminal Code vocabulary now…

            ADDENDUM: Or, it's the best lipstick a PR-flack might be able to apply to the porcine lips. Mmmmmm, bacon…

          • Question: Can Mulroney be charged with perjury for the testimony he gave in the inquiry?

            Also, was he "expressly instructed NOT to use words like 'perjury'?" Or was he instructed not to make findings of criminality?

            Again, I think we should try to be as precise as possible, especially if one is going to make serious accusations.

            For the record, I think Mulroney taking envelopes of money was incredibly wrong and, if more evidence found, probably criminal. But I'm just sticking to what the report says.

            And maybe you're making my point for me. Maybe the inquiry was set up to protect Mulroney in this way. I dunno, which is why I'd like to see your response to the first part of this post.

          • I do not know whether any knowingly false testimony at the inquiry could lead to charges of perjury. I suppose it could, otherwise, what WOULD the sanctions be for lying under oath at such a commission of inquiry?

            Perjury isn't a crime?

            If you want to be precise about accusations of crime, maybe you shouldn't have asked about additional permanent stains on a reputation.

          • Perjury isn't a crime? What?

            I would also add, since we're on the topic of precise accusations, I have yet to see the words "false testimony" cited from the report, too.

            Again, you might take these things into consideration to bolster your own credibility.

          • OK gang, I am well and truly done with Dennis. His subject-changing will now stand on its own merits. If anyone else wants to bother, help yourselves.

          • There you go again. All you have is ad hominem accusations against me. What does that say about all your comments on the topic? I don't need them. You do. You had to walk away with anger and without supported arguments, I did not. Thank you.

            Oh, and by all means. Anyone who can do what this guy couldn't, which is to sustain a reasoned argument, would be more than welcome.

          • I would suggest that his use of italics with the word "isn't" above was meant to be a rhetorical device. This may have caused some confusion.

            In any event, perjury is a crime. Justice Oliphant was prevented by his terms of reference (which were not of his own design, viz. above) from determining whether any person or organization was criminally or civilly liable for any particular action. Therefore, speaking hypothetically, even if Justice Oliphant did believe, on the balance of the evidence, that Mr. Mulroney perjured himself on the basis of his testimony under examination by government lawyers in his civil action against the government of Canada, he was not permitted to make that determination.

            Instead he referred to Mr. Mulroney's explanation as being "patently absurd." It's difficult to see how he could have gone much further than that.

          • I am quoting Justice Oliphant: one paragraph from the section of his statement dealing with how Mulroney gave the run-around under oath.

            It's Aaron's first "here" link. Look up, waaaaay up, to the top of this web page. You see all those helpful links? Help yourself, friend.

            I wouldn't expect you to have read through all sections of his report by now. But do take a moment to look at his statement of today (it's only an 18-page PDF) before commenting too much about what was said or not said in his report.

    • "I find that the reason for the payments and acceptance of the payments in cash on the part of both Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney was to conceal their business and financial dealings and the fact that the cash transactions between
      them had occurred."

      Anyway, I don't think it was in Oliphant's mandate to recommend civil or criminal actions.

    • Oliphant never had the mandate to establish criminality.

      • Did Gomery? Yet he made specific references to criminal acts, did he not?

  6. Aaron, does Maclean's have a policy against linking to a former Maclean's colleague who performed above and beyond the live-blogging call of duty during this Commission's sessions? Your passage at the moment is seriously lacking a CBC link.

    –MYL, forever an ITQ fan

  7. My favourite part of the whole story was Mr. Mulroney's assertion that, despite the fact that he admitted accepting $225,000 in cash, the matter is closed and that he no longer needed a full public inquiry to prove his innocence back in December 2007. So much for that.

    The second best part of the story was that he didn't declare the income to the CRA (how could he without sending up warning flares) for six years and then, under "voluntary disclosure" was only assessed tax on half of the amount. He claimed that he had nothing to do with the settlement; it was handled by his accountant and he just cut the CRA a cheque when the matter was settled.

    Two questions:

    1.) As a member of the prole class, would I get that kind of break from the CRA?
    2.) What is the name of his accountant.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  8. Dear Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America:

    I have the name of a Canadian citizen, having done business (involving a heavily-disputed amount of work, ranging from "nothing" to "lobbying now-dead persons around the world") in the United States, who has testified to having received a disputed but substantial amount of undocumented cash as payment in a New York City hotel, several years ago. There is sworn testimony that the sum is at least $75,000 in Canadian thousand-dollar bills. It has never been stated to my satisfaction whether the amount equates to seventy-five thousand dollars Canadian or US, or whether the dispute over the amount (75 vs. 100 K) arises solely because the disputants are using one or the other forms of national currency. You may wish to initiate an investigation. He is not hard to find. You might like to ask the forty-first President of your United States for a phone number; I understand they are close friends.

  9. Oh, and before anyone else wants to take another run at me, they might want to read what Mr. Mulroney himself has to say presently. Like I said, he's already admitted big mistakes, and this report seems to simply reiterate that fact — at least for me at this early stage.

  10. Dear Robin Sears:

    In your request to L. Ian MacDonald for yet another fawning op-ed, you might wish to invite Mr. MacDonald to refrain from alleging that Mr. Oliphant and Mr. Wolson "brought a knife to a gunfight." It was all they were permitted to bring, and they used it rather well.

    We, the readers of Canada, look forward to Mr. MacDonald's piece. Really, we do. We could use the chuckle.

    Sincerely,

    MYL.

  11. You're reaching here and, in essence, accusing a Justice of "perceived bias".

    And, again, it doesn't really matter. The final result is the same, which is that, in my view, the Gomery report was at least explicitly far more damning than Oliphant's version.

    • I'm less accusing him of bias than I am following the ruling of Justice Teitelbaum of the Federal Court of Canada, who ruled the sections of the report related to Mr. Chretien and Mr. Pelletier were deemed to be invalid. To highlight the relevant comments by Justice Teitelbaum from the Star article I linked to above:

      "The nature of the comments made to the media are such that no reasonable person looking realistically and practically at the issue, and thinking the matter through, could possibly conclude that the commissioner would decide the issues fairly," Teitelbaum said.
      (…)
      The Federal Court judge agreed Gomery "became preoccupied with ensuring that the spotlight of the media remained on the Commission's inquiry, and he went to great lengths to ensure that the public's interest in the Commission did not wane."
      (…)
      "Not only was this remark a personal insult directed at the Applicant (Chrétien) and his background, but it suggests that the Commissioner (Gomery) had come to the conclusion that (Chrétien) had acted improperly even before (he) appeared before the Commission to give his evidence."

      If you're going to compare the language used and conclusions drawn by Justice Gomery to the language used and conclusions drawn by Justice Oliphant, it's worth noting that the former had come under criticism. I suspect, as I said earlier, that this is largely due to personal style more than anything else. The language Justice Oliphant used may be milder, but the findings are no less cogent for it.

      • Which is fine, but it doesn't mitigate the initial impact of those findings, nor erase the first impression people had from the report.

        People here are making legalistic and nuanced arguments. I'm talking about gut reaction.

        It's just the impression I get. People are making a big deal about the word "inappropriate". If that's the lasting legacy of the Oliphant inquiry, then it's not perhaps the end of the world for Mulroney. I dunno.

  12. I have mixed feelings about Mr. Mulroney, too.

    On the one hand, I think an intact legacy is generally good for Canadian conservatives, and the country as a whole. So, the more that he's explicitly associated with criminal conduct, the worse it is from this standpoint.

    On the other hand, I think he has shown himself too often to simply be a reckless politician. He's had his party splinter on him, then almost collapse, the country splinter on him, so-called "brothers" like Bouchard stab him in the back, re-open unnecessary constitutional debates, etc, etc. And, to top it all of, he took gobs of cash in envelopes from a shady character involved in a past scandal of his, only to cover it up, then mislead people about it even under oath.

    I've said this before, but I think he's kind of our Richard Nixon. Many fine aspects of his legacy, such as free trade, South Africa, etc, just as Nixon had China and other enviable policy legacies. But the recklessness tarnishes much of it. Kind of tragic figures both. And, I might add, the endless target of vitriol from political enemies, who will always be reluctant to give them some of their due. Indeed, both men were almost paranoid about how their enemies would perceive them, and this often motivated actions that ultimately made things even worse.

    • Oh, but one fundamental difference between the two, and I think it's important to highlight. While Nixon was a loner to the point of running the White House from notes made in daily briefing memos, Mulroney was a very charismatic socialite who believed that everyone would love him if they got to know him. In a sense, opposite personalities ended up dooming themselves in similar fashion. However, with Mulroney, as I've said before, the tarnishing isn't as explicit. No formal reprimands. No findings of criminality.

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