The Chair: Good morning, gentlemen.
Mr. Mulroney, I expect that you will recall the rules, procedures, and traditions of the House of Commons. In particular, you will recall the general expectation that witnesses appearing before the committees testify in a truthful and complete manner.
We could proceed on this understanding; or alternatively, would you feel more comfortable being formally sworn in by the clerk of the committee?
Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (P.C., As an Individual): Proceed in this manner.
The Chair: Thank you.
The closer you look at this Mulroney business, the crazier his story looks. I’ve taken a first stab at unwrapping it. But several loose ends remain. For instance:
Mulroney says that, contrary to Schreiber’s testimony, the two men never discussed doing business together until their August 1993 meeting at a hotel near Mirabel airport, where Schreiber, after a few preliminary pleasantries about suing the government of Canada, suddenly produced $75,000 in cash and offered him employment.
The money, as we now know, came from the Britan account Schreiber maintained in a Swiss bank, stocked the previous month with $500,000 out of the millions in secret commissions he received, most of it from the sale of Airbus planes to Air Canada. Bank records show that Schreiber withdrew $100,000 on July 27.
If we believe the former prime minister, then, Schreiber deposited the money into the Britan account, withdrew the cash, and brought it all the way across the Atlantic with him (are you allowed to bring that much cash into Canada?), just on the off chance that Mulroney might be willing to work for him — that is, before they had ever discussed it. It’s possible. But is it probable?
Mulroney’s deputy prime minister is among those who are finding it hard to suppress their doubts about his testimony. Which raises this question: Why wasn’t Mulroney sworn in? The chairman had the option of requiring him to do so, and Mulroney had the option of agreeing to, but neither chose to exercise their respective options. Inside the Queensway’s incomparable Lady K walks us through the implications. Upshot: Mulroney faces much less severe penalties if he’s found to have lied to the committee than Schreiber would.