(For full liveblogging coverage of day one, click here.)
So — we’re back! When the inquiry reconvenes today, Team Mulroney lead counsel Guy Pratte will still be gently grilling his client over his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber, although the conventional wisdom — and who are we, really, to be wise when confronted with such unprecedented events? — says that he will probably wrap up at some point this morning or early afternoon, thus leaving the field clear for the commission counsel, most likely Richard Wolson, to take the floor. Which should be interesting plus plus.
Oh, and remember how Schreiber mysteriously disappeared midway through Mulroney’s testimony yesterday? Turns out he had an actual medical semi-emergency, and wound up in hospital, where he underwent gallbladder surgery last night. He’s apparently now recovering, but there’s no word on when he’ll be back at Old City Hall. ITQ hopes that he has access to the CPAC live feed, at least.
Well, we’re all abuzz over the latest Schreiberian developments — the gallstone attack, that is — and comparing notes about when we found out. As for the Man of the Hours and Hours of Self-Serving Testimony with Many Glaring Omissions, the verdict seems to be that he did himself no favours yesterday, although like the currently convalescing Schreiber, nobody is willing to write the end of the story just yet — he may yet have a few tricks up his sleeve, that former prime minister of ours. Or, alternately, and perhaps more helpful to him in the long run: clear, direct, unequivocable answers to the questions that linger still. Oh, come on — you know ITQ is a shamelessly hopeless optimist.
Anyway, the other rumour swirling around the Victoria Room today has to do with the eventual cross-examination of Mulroney by Schreiber’s counsel; specifically, whether Eddie Greenspan, who has yet to darken the door of Old City Hall, will turn up for the occasion. Apparently, the word earlier this week was that he *would*, but now that’s been downgraded to a “maybe”. Or, in ITQ’s case, a “gosh, wouldn’t *that* be interesting”. I will, as always, keep you posted.
As for what we can expect today — well, it’s hard to see how Guy Pratte can stretch even the most open-ended line of questioning much past noon, which means that commission counsel — presumably, but not definitely, in the form of Richard Wolson — will get their first crack at him this afternoon.
Oh, and remember the Team Mulroney power walk down the hall yesterday morning? Well, apparently *that* was a one-shot deal; we’re told that the Right Honourable will be making a more understated entrance today — through a back door, out of sight of the assembled media.
Definitely a smaller turnout of reporters today — although admittedly, there’s a a half hour or so til the show gets underway, and the media section could still fill up before then — but still a far more sizeable contingent than during previous weeks, though.
Don Newman is still here! Oh, thank goodness — we’re still important. And yes, it *has* been noted that I may have developed a touch of Stockholm Syndrome during my self-imposed exile from the Hill, but really — you try covering an inquiry day in and day out for weeks and see if you don’t start feeling oddly protective.
Hey, the Germans aren’t here today! Maybe they’re hanging out in the hospital cafeteria. With flowers, and stacks of celebrity gossip magazines, of course — not handcuffs. Oh, and since I seem to be taking attendance this morning, I can also report that Fred Doucet is back, and is, by all appearances, in fine spirits; he and a fellow SFXian were chortling behind a pillar a few minutes ago.
And the former prime minister turned international speaker, board member and brief watcher at large has arrived, sporting a deep lavender tie and an inscrutable expression on his face. Mila is also here, of course, and I must say that her leather jacket is absolutely *adorable*, although I’m not sure how I feel about the scarf. In fairness, I tend to be ambivalent at best towards the scarf as fashion accessory, mostly because every time I attempt to wear one, I end up nearly strangling myself on a loose end.
Right off the bat, Wolson pops up to inform the commissioner of Schreiber’s medical situation; it turns out that it may end up delaying the proceedings after all, since Auger has to consult with his client before conducting his cross examination of Mulroney. I guess we’ll see how hale and hearty Schreiber is feeling by tomorrow, and go from there.
With that, the microphone is turned over to Pratte, who gets his client to explain how the “watching brief” was launched during his visit to China a month after the Mirabel meeting, where, he thought, he might “usefully” explore the concept with the “leading powers” of the United Nations, to find out where they stood on “something like this”.
Oh, this is exciting: We now, apparently, have pages from Mulroney’s agenda on the record; specifically, those related to his trip to China, although the names of some of the people with whom he was meeting have been blacked out. Anyway, he was travelling with unspecified “clients”, and hadn’t arranged any specific meetings related to the “watching brief”, he did have some discussions with various highly placed Chinese officials, none of whose names I’m going to even try to spell. He did begin a relationship with one who was “very close” to the chairman, and met with the Vice Premier and Governor of the Central Bank of China just before attending a banquet in his honour. A few years back, this particular official had been on the diplomatic blacklist due to that whole Tiannamen Square unpleasantness, but
Mulroney didn’t want to place Canada’s “long term relationship” with China in jeopardy – as had been the policy of Trudeau before him, and Chretien afterwards, so he had the guy over to dinner at 24 Sussex.
In any case, by this point — we’re back in 1993 now — that official was on his way to becoming a powerful politician, and — wait, why is Mulroney being so very cagey about the clients with whom he was traveling? It makes it very difficult to follow when he keeps referring to major corporate interests and the like. Anyway, there was chatter, but no direct answers as far as Thyssen or “the corporate interests I was seeking to advance”, but he does recall raising the Thyssen issue.
More about the dinner – where Mulroney was sitting, whether the Canadian Ambassador was present at either the pre-banquet meeting, or the high table where Mulroney was seated.
More Chinese political history, which is, in fairness, relevant to the issue at hand: Mulroney is at least trying to give an example of how he did, indeed, attempt to “be helpful” to Thyssen, and Schreiber, on the international scene; unfortunately, the Chinese officials didn’t jump at the opportunity on the first mention of the Thyssen project, and the “quite splendid” vehicle that the company was producing for the United Nations. If they had, he says, he would have been “on the phone” to Schreiber ‘in a New York minute”.
Oliphant wonders if China has ever taken part in a peacekeeping mission, and Mulroney tells him that they *have* been involved in Africa, specifically “development”, but admits that for the most part, they prefer to keep their military in China. They did, however, have a veto at the Security Council, and as such, had influence.
Mulroney points out that *his* idea was to have the P5 – the five permanent members of the Security Council – acquire the equipment, and then make it available in areas where it might be needed, whether that be Congo or Sri Lanka.
Back to China – or rather, back from China, which Mulroney did in mid-October, just around the same time his party was being annihilated in the general election. He may or may not have called Fred Doucet after returning from China, although he might have done so.
Finally, we’ve made it to the meeting at the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal — the coffee shop, to be precise, which Mulroney describes as “like Tim Horton’s, but with more expensive coffee”. When he arrived, Schreiber was already there, with a table, and he jokes a little when asked if he was recognized: the adoration and respect, he assures his lawyer, just poured out of all and sundry. “That’s Montreal,” jokes Pratte, which prompts Oliphant to point out that he should’ve come to Winnipeg. He did, Mulroney shoots back — and his party won virtually every seat in Manitoba in 1984 and 1988, prompting him to conclude that Winnipeggers are “a forgiving” people.
Anyway, at that coffee shop meeting, Mulroney attempted to give Schreiber an update on his efforts internationally, but he seemed remarkably uninterested; “He had fallen in love with the Liberals,” Mulroney recalls, with a particularly boundless affection for Andre Ouellette, and he – Schreiber – was convinced that he was finally going to get the project done — in the east end of Montreal. At the time, Ouellette was at Foreign Affairs, and was also the senior minister for Montreal, and Schreiber was “infatuated” with him. He didn’t ask about invoices, and knew that Mulroney couldn’t do anything under “those circumstances” — see above re: Great PC Electoral Massacre of ’93 — but figured that he would “reactivate” him later “to do something major”.
At which point Schreiber reached into his bag, pulled out another cash-stuffed envelope – in front of everyone in the coffee shop – and put it on the table. When Mulroney brought it home to put in the safe, it turned out to contain $75,000 – no word on what currency. –
To Russia, With Very General Questions, now, and Mulroney’s discussions with Yeltsin, which took place during an August 1994 trip, during which he stayed at a villa beside Yeltsin’s own; awkwardly, Yeltsin misunderstood what he was saying, according to Mulroney’s account, and thought he was acting as a salesman for Thyssen, to which he responded by pointing out that he didn’t have the money to buy tanks. Mulroney reassured him that he was just floating the concept of the P5 group buy.
Oh, and a Yeltsin anecdote — about his desire for a presidential library, just like the presidents have. Mulroney apparently told him that — wait, we interrupt this moment of prime ministerial reminiscence for a breaking question from the judge, who wonders what language they were speaking during that discussion: Mulroney was speaking English, and Yeltsin, Russian. Oliphant asks if there was a translator there – yes, there was – and if, by chance, Mulroney remembers his name – sadly, no. Oliphant looks even less scrutable than Mulroney did this morning.
And now, the Mitterand meeting! My goodness, we’re just hitting all the relevant topics today, aren’t we? Anyway, he and Mitterand were old friends from his PM days — he was not only an ally, but a French-speaking ally, and they’d worked together on many files, including the Francophonie Summit. Also, Mitterand held a press conference to decry de Gaulle’s famous comments about Quebec, and had invited Mulroney et famille to stay at his villa in the South of France twice.
Anyway, when Mulroney got word to him that he was going to be in Paris, Mitterand invited him to the Lycee, where they discussed everything from the Thyssen project – or concept, as Mulroney tends to refer to it – to his thoughts on death. Wow. Fun. Apparently, Mulroney didn’t know Mitterand was dying, but he did, and I so hope we get a question about what those thoughts were. Mitterand, for what it’s worth, thought the concept was “a great idea” that he would fully support, should it come before the P5.
He and Mitterand *also* discussed it in 1995, at a Colorado Springs event organized by George Bush Sr., and hosted by – either McNeil or Lehrer, to be honest, the namedropping is starting to lose me in the details, not that we don’t appreciate hearing actual names, and Mulroney recalls having “technical” discussions with Casper Weinberger, who told him there was nothing worse for the American defence industry than to see market share taken by others, including the Germans, so there would be “strong opposition” — but stopped short of telling him to give up, since he – Mulroney – had such “strong contacts” with Bush, Bill Clinton and others that *he* might be able to convince them. O — kay.
Yes, three out of the four leaders he’s mentioned are “no longer with us”, as Pratte so delicately puts it, but Mulroney reminds him that he was one of the youngest-serving world leaders at the time, but if he hadn’t recovered from that bout with pancreatis, “I’d be dead too,” and this whole inquiry would be moot. Everyone gets old, and eventually, everyone dies, and wow, today’s testimony is a little on the morbid side, isn’t it?
Finally, Pratte gets to the New York meeting, which is my personal favourite, if only for the setting, which started with the Defence White Paper being sent to his attention — always an “interesting indication” of the government’s mindset — as well Thyssen-related material, all of which he brought to his meeting with Schreiber.
More Mulroney schedule highlights – December 8, 1994, specifically, which includes a reference to a meeting with Schreiber at 11am at the Pierre Hotel. Mulroney confirms that he brought Doucet along to the meeting, and, after being invited to do so by his lawyer, explains to the judge what happened from there.
Oh, you want to know, too? Okay, so Mulroney tells Schreiber all about what he’s been doing on the “watching brief”, particularly with relation to the United Nations, and ended his presentation by telling Schreiber that when all this was done — the meeting, I guess, and the surprise lunch for Elmer and newly Mrs. Elmer MacKay — he wanted to head over to the UN and talk to the Secretary General. After which point Schreiber retreated to his bedroom, brought out the now familiar envelope, handed it over to Mulroney and off they all went to meet MacKay. Oh, after Mulroney dealt with certain unspecified stomach problems — he met up with them at the Cafe Bar — and at some point afterwards, he and Doucet left.
Did the subject of Quebec arise, Pratte wonders — specifically, the problems that Schreiber was having there? “Not a bit.” Just to be “crystal clear”, Pratte wants him to put it on the record that Schreiber never mentioned Mulroney giving him a hand in dealing with the Quebec government, which he does.
Oh, and Doucet actually went to the airport by himself – Mulroney, it seems, had a driver while he was in New York, what with all those corporate directorships that had started to come in, and his driver took him to the Old Chemical Bank, where he deposited the contents of the envelope in a safety deposit box.
In response to Pratte’s seemingly simple question as to whether the safety deposit box had existed *before* the cash drop, Mulroney tells a long story that involves him being invited to the board of a major American bank and ends up with a cameo appearance by Henry Kissinger, yet actually doesn’t provide the yes or no response for which Pratte may have been hoping. Undaunted, Pratte tries again, and this time, his client goes off on a tangent about the important work he was doing for Latin American interests, which meant that he needed someplace to store confidential documents, and he goes on and on in this vein until finally, FINALLY, he says that it did. The box, that is. Exist before the cash exchange at the Pierre Hotel.
And – break! See you in fifteen.
Okay, so *now* the conventional wisdom – which shimmers and shifts with each breath of new information that comes out – is that Pratte will probably take the rest of the day for his examination, but don’t worry — the schedule may have Mulroney finishing up this week, but if the other lawyers need more time for cross, more time they shall have. Luckily, the House isn’t sitting next week, so as far as ITQ is concerned, he can stay on the stand as long as it takes. Although I can’t guarantee that my faithful realtime retelling of his anecdotes won’t get progressively more succinct and sarcastic.
Oh, Mulroney is waving to his section of the crowd. How — magnamious of him. Also, Auger scrummed during the break to reiterate what came up at the hearing earlier today: He needs to consult with his client before cross-examining Mulroney.
And – we’re officially back in session, and Pratte opens on an intriguing sidenote — it seems to have something to do with when he told Fred Doucet that he was working for Schreiber, which according to Mulroney, happened after the Mirabel meeting, which may contradict the timeline provided by Doucet, but I’ll have to check to be sure.
And now, we’re onto the Airbus allegations – not really the substance thereof, but the effect it might have had on his conduct, and – oh, heavens. Here it is. It had a tremendous effect on himself, and his family — finding himself the target of “powerful forces” — including the Canadian government. He, after all, had a completely unrelated relationship with Schreiber, but imagine the potential for damage to his reputation if *that* came out.
And now we’re into it; the Grand Conspiracy, Mulroney Version, that is. We’ve already heard Schreiber’s account. Anyway, apparently, it was Schreiber who told him about the letter to the Swiss bank — he wasn’t given the courtesy of forewarning by the Canadian authorities who sent it along — uh, no kidding; does that not seem a fairly reasonable decison by the RCMP? — but Schreiber had a copy of the letter.
Pratte now goes through the summary of facts contained in the Swiss letter, and Mulroney denies line after line as “completely false”, and notes that the “confidential source” in question was, of course, Stevie Cameron.
There are also a few paragraphs that refer to Bear Head, as well as Eurocopter, and — oh, now we’re off to the leaking of the letter, I think. This is hard to follow without the exhibits. Anyway, Pratte goes through the letter to then-Justice Minister Allan Rock, sent by Roger Tasse, which asked the minister to express his “good judgement” and stop this “travesty” from unfolding, despite the fact that “we knew of the ties” between the people involved.
According to Mulroney’s letter – well, Tasse’s letter, technically – he wasn’t objecting to the RCMP investigation, but of the Canadian government branding him a “criminal”. He was willing to meet with authorities to answer “any question” they might have had about him.
(Confidential to JL: Yes. Datesquares, even more.)
Yeah yeah, this letter alleged criminal wrongdoing by a *former prime minister* – speaking to the judge directly, Mulroney wonders how he would feel if, after a life of public service, he woke up to an eight point headline in the Winnipeg Free Press accusing him of various perfidies – based on the allegations of “the biggest Mulroney hater in the country” — that would be Cameron — and “a convicted felon” — which would be George Pelossi. *That* is what he was trying to prevent — the initial damage. But they “wouldn’t give us the time of day,” the department reduced to being “directed from pillar to post”, presumably by the aforementioned co-conspirators, who are – or were – far more diabolically powerful than I had ever suspected.
Oliphant wonders who the “they” was in the aforementioned tirade, and Mulroney reels off a list of various charter members — Justice officials, the RCMP, even the minister himself, all of whom were intent on going ahead with this “travesty”. Mulroney then goes into full conspiratorial mode about Cameron and the sinister Harvey Cashore meeting with the hapless and/or secretly even more sinister Sgt. Fiegenwald, and lies and betrayals and the international media chomping at the bit. “We knew it was going to hit, and hit like a ton of bricks, so I said “To Hell with this,” Mulroney recalls — he ordered his lawyers to launch a preemptive strike; a legal claim against the government of Canada for perpetuating “this criminal hoax”, which they eventually settled on the eve of trial.
Ahh, the famous leaked letter, which found its way to the National Post – no, we don’t get any new information on how that might have happened, speculative or otherwise.
Mulroney also discusses the origins of the Airbus incident, and how it was always referred to by that name, just like Sir John A. MacDonald and the CP Rail Scandal, and Sponsorshipscamgate — the difference, of course, was that *this* scandal was based on lies, starting with the lie that he was “a criminal all along”. When he was, of course, an honest man, with a family, yet the world was being told all of these things without him even having been given the courtesy of a heads up on the allegations being made.
Anyway, he had nothing to do with the Airbus contract, and wasn’t involved in any sort of conspiracy. So there.
Oh, joy. Pratte just asked whether it would he too difficult for Mulroney to discuss the impact that this had on his family, and as Mulroney is just launching into what I’m sure was going to be the long version of what we’ve gotten on various occasions over the last few years, the judge pipes up to tell him that, actually, he has a pretty good idea of what the impact was. Mulroney, however, doesn’t seem to take that as the gentle hint that ITQ thought it was, and begins with the words “Nicholas was ten years old,” before falling silent, his voice breaking off. At that point, Pratte suggests that it might be a good time to take the break, and the judge concurs.
See you back at 2pm!
Okay, so – we have had *drama* during the lunch break, you guys — draaaaaaamaaa. About a half hour after the morning session adjourned, Team Mulroney sent out a release to some – nearly all, I think – of the reporters on the Oliphant beat, drawing our attention to a new post on the Mulroney Media Room website, which claims that the reason why the former prime minister nearly broke down on the stand was because he saw two reporters — named there, not here — “laughing – laughing – at his testimony”, which, you’ll recall, was threatening to be a reprise of his previous remarks about how hard the Airbus affair was on him and his family. ITQ saw nor heard any such outburst, and as far as she knows, neither did anyone else. So, uh — there you have it. Drama! Inexplicable drama, really; any speculation on motives, ITQ leaves to our readers.
And we’re back — a little late, in fact, which is unusual; if anything, Oliphant tends to start early. Anyway, that allegation doesn’t come up when the afternoon session resumes; instead, Pratte seems to have abandoned that line of questioning for now, and directs Mulroney to turn to his discovery examination from April 17, 1996, which was related to his lawsuit against the government.
To give a little context before answering questions, Pratte gets Mulroney to explain how, in these situations, he understood that the questions were to be considered only in strict consideration of the substance of the instant controversy, in this case, the Airbus allegations. After setting the stage, he then gets Mulroney to read aloud his answers to the questions he was asked about his knowledge of, and relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber, which results in a bizarre ad hoc recreation of the original testimony: Pratte reading the questions, and Mulroney his answers.
Which, incidentally, are almost word for word the same as those that he gave in response to his lawyer yesterday, at least as far as the origin of the Bear Head project, and his – Mulroney, that is – subsequent contact with Schreiber, which makes this incredibly difficult to follow, since, without a copy of the original testimony, it’s nearly impossible to make out when he and Pratte are reenacting the earlier exchange.
Pratte does stop him when he gets to the part about seeing Schreiber “on infrequent occasions”, which, Mulroney says, would have referred to encounters that took place while he was still in office.
Okay, I’ll admit to being pretty much baffled by this strategy; the testimony in question was already in the record, right? Even if it wasn’t, there’s no need to read every word of it to the judge — just have it introduced as an exhibit. I doubt anyone would object.
Actually, that makes me wonder — if a witness – not necessarily this one, but any witness — was asked to read out excerpts from the proceedings of the Ethics committee without introducing it as evidence – like the forensic analysis of the handwriting on the mandate letter – would that evade the ban on using said testimony due to parliamentary privilege?
Okay, we’re out of the reenactment for the moment, and Pratte asks Mulroney if, in the context of that examination, his description of his relationship with Schreiber was accurate, and he says that is was. They then delve back into what is, given everything that has happened since, become testimony rich in both irony and redundancy. Pratte points out that Mulroney actually corrects the lawyer at one point, making it clear that he had no contact with him after October 1995.
I cannot believe we’ve now spent almost half an hour watching Mulroney and Pratte act out a deposition from 1995.
Okay, let’s try to speed this up: Hey, remember when Mulroney testified under oath back then that he had had “no dealings” with Schreiber? He meant *in the context of Airbus*, so it was totally true and not at all — not true. Also, the Globe and the Post both omitted the second “had” — no, that wasn’t a typo — thus changing the meaning, which led to legal threats against both papers by Mulroney; eventually, correction/apologies were issued in both cases.
Mulroney points out – well, in response to a question from Pratte – that even William Kaplan admits that not one of the nine lawyers – nine of them! nine! – hired by the government to defend the lawsuit “asked the key question” . Uh, I think that they probably thought they *had* asked “the key question”, they just didn’t share his interpretation of what it meant. Mulroney then takes the risky tactic of turning to address the judge directly, and goes off on a tangent about a “major columnist” who is using those same words to suggest that he isn’t – or wasn’t – telling the truth – wait, is he talking about Colleague Coyne? I’m lost here, but it does seem to be Lash Out At The Media Day back in the Team Mulroney War Room.
UPDATE: Okay, probably not Colleague Coyne, as – he points out – he doesn’t write for a newspaper, and he hasn’t mentioned the previous testimony. I’m not sure who he means, but it can’t be that hard to figure it out, for those of y’all with the luxury of being able to read the coverage, rather than having your brain and thumbs fully occupied with, well, covering it.
UPPITYDATER: According to one of my fellow livebloggers here in media row, it was John Ivison.
Anyway, the judge doesn’t respond, but Mulroney then goes on at length on one of his very favourite subjects: the vendetta against him, and how very, very, very, very wrong everyone turned out to be.
Did I tell you that I figured out how to make the Bberry autotext feature automagically put html bold tags around my timestamps? I’m so absurdly pleased with that. Sure, it isn’t an offer for the UN secretary general post, but still. Go, ITQ!
Okay, we’ve now finally made it to the meeting in Zurich, and the Savoy, where he had lunch with Schreiber, despite having a sore shoulder; the two hadn’t spoken in some time, due to the Airbus “thing”, but Schreiber was full of enthusiasm for his latest project, the magical anti-obesity pasta machines.
Mulroney notes that he was “surprised’ that Schreiber didn’t bring him his – Mulroney’s – connection to Archer Daniels Midland, which was heavily involved in the grain sector, and we all know that delicious, tasty pasta comes from the mighty durham wheat. Yet Schreiber didn’t even bring up the possibility of Mulroney getting involved in that venture, although he does recall being invited – he doesn’t remember by whom – to meet with Greg Alford, who was working for Schreiber at the time, to look at a laboratory involved in the production of those machines. Elmer MacKay was also an investor, and Mulroney even saw a demonstration of the pasta machine — you pushed a few buttons, and pasta would come out! He tried it, and lo – it was good! So he tried it again, and it was *still* good.
I really, really, really want a Schreibermatic pasta machine.
And — scene! I mean, break! Back in fifteen. Bring pasta.
Okay, we’re back, and Pratte has, once again, moved onto an entirely different subject: how Mulroney learned about the warrant out for Karlheinz Schreiber’s arrest — from the news — and the subsequent letter he received from the fifth estate’s Harvey Cashore asking for information on a story that he was working on related to Schreiber’s Canadian activities. Pratte asks if anyone spoke with Cashore on his behalf, and Mulroney, somewhat bizarrely, seems to say he doesn’t know, but Pratte then asks him to confirm that it was Luc Lavoie who handled the request. Mulroney noted that Lavoie had continued to represent him even after he had left office, when he was at National Public Relations.
Pratte then jumps to a second letter, this one sent to the CBC on the instruction of Mulroney, by *his* lawyer. Somehow, this eventually gives Mulroney the opportunity to accuse the fifth estate of going after him for decades, first on Airbus – and then, when that “exploded in their face” – to prove he did something *else* that was wrong. And all, he reminds us, owlishly, with taxpayer dollars. Man, if he ever does need cash — and certain Canadian partisan political dynamics change — he could totally give Doug Finley a run for his money in the fundraising letterwriting department.
More rambling anti-CBC screeding by the witness — the lies, the shoddy journalism, the etc. etc. etc. etc. Stop him if you’ve heard this one be– right, then. It all has to do with the then-still-persona-grata Schreiber’s attempt – through his then and still lawyer Eddie Greenspan – to get the CBC to include his side of the story in the piece the fifth estate was preparing, else, he suggested, the network would be doing a “grave disservice” to Mulroney. Not Schreiber? Odd.
A surprise topic shift — especially so late in the day — or at least, an attempt to shift to a new topic by Pratte, who wants to introduce certain documents related to Mulroney’s voluntary disclosure; he wants to make sure the judge realizes that he is *not* waiving privilege, even if this material goes on the record, and Oliphant notes that Wolson is already looking somewhat concerned by the prospect. Wolson tells the judge that there is no agreement as to what questions can be asked by subsequent lawyers, but he doesn’t object, so the judge allows the documents to be filed as an exhibit, although he does wonder how the other lawyers can not object *or* consent to their inclusion.
The judge wonders what, exactly, is being filed – an agreed statement of facts, or a summary. All of this, by the way, is presumably related to the amended income tax forms, and the somewhat belated disclosure to Revenue Canada, for such it then was.
Okay, now that *all* the lawyers have consented, or not objected, the documents are in, and Pratte wants to know how, exactly, Mulroney characterized his cash-stuffed envelope-based income, for tax purposes: it was, the former prime minister tells him, a retainer — that’s what he considered it, and as such, it would have to be disclosed only when spent on expenses. Wait, did I get that right? Actually, I think that’s what he said at committee too, so — probably.
And now, a brief explanation of the Voluntary Disclosure Program, at least as Mulroney understood it: it’s available to all Canadians, whether former prime ministers or just regular folks, which is why he made the decision that it had to be dealt with; as a result, just over $37,000 was added to his income for each eligible year.
Noting that this is a “sensitive area”, Pratte wonders what “significance” that amount had to him, and while Mulroney shares the commissioner’s past comments on how $100,000 “meant something” to him; it does to Mulroney as well, but at the time, given his gross income, it — wasn’t all that significant, is the upshot.
Also, after the money was “his” — and it *was* “his” money, he reminds us; by that point, he had earned it — he spent it. So there.
Wait, am I misremembering, or was there a whole back and forth at committee about how the money was for “expenses”, and whether he spent that money to pay for his incidentals accumulated in his brief-watching work for Schreiber?
Anyway, all of this was in keeping with his understanding of the retainer provisions of the law.
4:06:55 PM Okay, this is an unexpected topic change — yes, again: Pratte asks whether Mulroney knew that Fred Doucet was planning to prepare one of his trademark notes to file after the first fifth estate broadcast — circa 1999, if I remember right — and Mulroney tells him he did not; he also wasn’t aware, nor did he instruct Doucet to meet with Schreiber later that year, or in early 2000.
Doucet, by the way, seems to have come back just for this portion of the testimony — when it first started, he was standing in the doorway, and he’s now sitting at the back of the room, listening intently. Meanwhile, Mulroney notes that it’s clear that Doucet called him *after* the meeting – not before – and also, that Schreiber was talking about the 1996 transcript — yes, the one that Pratte and Mulroney spent so many minutes reenacting earlier this afternoon. It was also clear, Mulroney says – so much clarity – that Schreiber had made the same mistake as the Globe, the Post and – just today – a certain national columnist with a Scottish brogue – in interpreting “had not had” with “had not”, and really? Really, we’re going back to diagramming his sentence structure? Gosh, I guess so. Anyway, Mulroney now realizes what Fred was on about at the time, and even almost lets Schreiber off the hook, since – as he notes – this particular misunderstanding has become part of the lexicon.
Okay, so yeah – not surprisingly, given the preceding exchange, it transpires that Mulroney was also unaware of Doucet’s plan to “memorialize” his relationship with Schreiber two years after the fact — until the meeting at which the mandate document had signed, that is – which, Mulroney suggests, was due to his – Doucet, that is – fear that the extradition threat looming over Schreiber’s head could result in him doing damage to Mulroney, who was the most prominent — and thus vulnerable — of that particular cadre.
Oh, and there was also a “sinister sounding” meeting between Schreiber and Mulroney, as the latter was “coming out of the can”. They exchanged greetings, and that was that.
Okay, so apparently, if he gets a fifteen minute break, Pratte will be able to complete his exam by 5pm tonight; everyone agrees, and – another break? Really? But — some of us have early evening plans! Oh, at least it’ll be over, right?
See you in fifteen.
Back again – for the last time today, guaranteed, and the effort of undergoing hours on the stand finally seems to have set in for Mulroney; he looks and sounds markedly more tired than he did even just a few minutes ago.
Pratte directs his client to the Big Book Of Schreiberian Correspondence, and has him read a series of excerpts from Schreiber’s more outrageously fawning letters, in which he predicts that Mulroney may one day receive a Nobel prize, and goes on at length over his many qualities and virtues. There is also a passage in which Schreiber describes his past testimony – given under oath – is “the only accurate version” of the relationship between the two men: There is, Schreiber writes, no Airbus affair. The allegations were groundless, and he apologizes, even, for getting cross with Mulroney in the past, closing with an entirely heartfelt-sounding plea for the two to get together for lunch.
Finally, he moves onto a letter from February 2007, in which – oh, it sounds as though by this point, Schreiber had again gotten cross; he includes Mulroney’s name in the list of those conspiring against him — which is headed by Stephen Harper — and tells Mulroney that “the time has come” to bring their battle to a “peaceful end”. In what he calls his “last warning,” he threatens to reveal all sorts of information related to Mulroney, and money, and Zurich, and – yeah, I think we get the idea. “This is the letter of a blackmailer,” Mulroney says – threatening him with a litany of alleged crimes to be exposed if he – Mulroney – didn’t intervene to prevent his extradition. Which was exactly what he wound up doing, and is, in Mulroney’s view, what led us here today. “He was asking me to do something absolutely illegal,” he notes. He said he was willing to do anything to avoid going back to Germany, and he would.
More about how Mulroney refused to submit to blackmail, instead ignoring it totally.
And – the big finish: Why, Pratte asks, did he accept cash payments from Schreiber? It was, Mulroney admits, a “significant errror in judgment” — one that he regrets, and for which he has suffered hugely and paid dearly. He hopes one day to meet a Canadian who has never made a mistake — why? What a boring, dislikeable automoton he or she would be — but he has little to add to that.
There we go — that’s all we get.
Wolson tells the judge that he’s ready to begin his cross-examination tomorrow, but not til 10:30 — he wants to review his notes and the transcript, and allow ITQ to sleep in past 5am for the first time in weeks. Okay, that last bit may have been implied, but — we’re out of here. See you tomorrow — same place, but an hour later than usual. Whee!