Karlheinz Schreiber’s fourth day of testimony before the Commons ethics committee was the usual farrago of teases, evasions, dropped questions, loose ends and general confusion. In all that, the Bavarian greasemonkey did leave the committee with a few leads to pursue. Highlights:
– He readily confessed to having bought the 1983 Tory convention that toppled Joe Clark from the leadership, in concert with Franz Josef Strauss (the Bavarian premier and chairman of Airbus Industrie at the time) and “maybe the Christian Social Union,” the party Strauss led and sister party to the ruling Christian Democratic Union. Schreiber talked of personally contributing $25,000, but it’s clear that much more money was spent than that.
For example, Schreiber and Strauss together bought a piece of property worth $369,000 from Frank Moores as a way of funneling money into the dump-Clark movement. Mulroney’s Quebec people flew almost 200 delegates to Winnipeg (out of a total of 2400 at the convention) on two jets leased from Wardair, together with $56,000 to pay their registration fees and, according to Schreiber, some spending money for their wives. L. Ian MacDonald, Mulroney’s former speechwriter, has written in his official biography of the former PM that the operation cost a quarter of a million dollars — in cash.
– Mulroney not only had “dealings” with him after he was prime minister, Schreiber said, and not only at the famous Harrington Lake meeting (which may have taken place before or after the June 25 resignation date — Schreiber has said both), but three months earlier, at a meeting with Mulroney and Elmer MacKay at 24 Sussex Drive, where Schreiber pitched the Bear Head project yet again — the one Mulroney allegedly killed in 1990, after first ordering his chief of staff to “get this done.”
– Schreiber said he told Mulroney at the time he paid him the $300,000 that the money came from the $4-million in “success fees” he was paid by Thyssen after it appeared the federal cabinet had given the project the go-ahead — an understanding in principle signed in September of 1988 by three cabinet ministers. This seems dubious: the money came out of an account set up to hold all of his secret commissions, including both Airbus and Thyssen money.
– He repeated his charge that the RCMP never interviewed him between the time that Der Spiegel first reported on his involvement in the Airbus deal in 1995 and the settlement with Mulroney in January 1997. The force had last week issued a textbook non-denial denial, insisting that it had interviewed Schreiber several times — between 2000 and 2006. Which is interesting, given that the Mounties formally discontinued the investigation in 2003.
– Schreiber at one point said Mulroney offered to finance his lawsuit against the government of Canada in Alberta. The case, in which Schreiber alleges the government and the RCMP abused their authority in their dealings with him, is significant for having first raised the notion that the RCMP were working with a confidential informant on the case — who turned out to be none other than Stevie Cameron.
– Mulroney was allegedly present at a meeting where the alleged scheme to divide the spoils of government business with GCI was discussed. According to Schreiber:
It was agreed upon — at least what Mr. Moores told me already in the eighties — that GCI would look after Mr. Mulroney, and that when Mr. Mulroney is no longer the Prime Minister, he would work with GCI…
This is what my understanding was from Frank Moores, and especially from Gary Ouellet, and when all this was discussed at the beginning – that GCI would do the business and get the lobbying business in all this – this was in the eighties. The discussion was one day in the Ritz-Carlton, and Mr. Mulroney was present.
It’s not clear from this whether Schreiber himself was also in attendance.
– Schreiber dropped the name of Benoit Bouchard, Transport minister from 1986 to 1988, as someone the commitee might want to interview, both with respect to Airbus and Bear Head. He coyly declined to offer further details.
– And then this incredible (possibly literally) passage:
I met quite often with Claude Taylor [Air Canada’s chairman in the 1980s] and I didn’t mention it but I was then approached [by] other members of the board from Air Canada … who wanted just $400,000 from me or I would never get the Airbus contract done.
Never mind the $400,000 — what was he meeting with Claude Taylor about? At the time, no one knew that Schreiber had any involvement in the Airbus deal — certainly not that he was being paid commissions on it, since these were prohibited. So what would he and Taylor have had to talk about?
In other news, Schreiber could not name the lawyer in Geneva to whom Fred Doucet allegedly asked him to transfer money. He denied being the one who leaked the infamous letter of request to the Swiss authorities that formed the basis of Mulroney’s lawsuit against the government. And he denied discussing a deal with the RCMP in which he would agree to offer information in return for being allowed to stay
Comme Drudge, developing…