After spending the last two days fielding questions from his own lawyer, Brian Mulroney faces off against the lead counsel for the commission this morning: the rapidly-becoming-legendary (at least around ITQ) Richard Wolson. The show starts at 10:30 am — yes, that’s an hour later than usual — and goes until — actually, we don’t know how long. At this point, it looks like Mulroney may be back on the witness stand after the Victoria Day weekend, which is when Schreiber was scheduled to make yet another final appearance, presumably to address any new claims or allegations that emerge from Mulroney’s testimony.
(Hey, ITQ has an idea: why not just have them both up there at once? It would be like a panel — the table, at least, is big enough for both of them even if Old City Hall itself might be unable to contain the implosion that tends to result when matter and antimatter collide.)
There are dark clouds swirling over Old City Hall this morning, y’all — and I’m not being metaphorical — not at this exact second, at least — we definitely have some pretty impressive pathetic fallacy manifesting out there. Meanwhile, we’re impatiently awaiting the start of today’s hearing; it turns out that some of us have become so institutionalized that a mere hours’ shift in the daily schedule throws us into utter confusion. Well, one of us, anyway.
Oh, and guess who is here – live, in the flesh, sitting at the other end of the media table? Colleague Coyne! I don’t think he’ll be liveblogging, but he does have his laptop primed and ready, and you just never know what he’ll do.
With just minutes to go, I can report that Wolson is already at the lectern, looking elegantly unreadable, as always, despite the pressure he must be under: I mean, who among us — us in the media encampment, at least — wouldn’t kill for the opportunity to ask the right honourable witness a few followup questions? (Note: yes, that *was* metaphorical, just for the record.)
Team Mulronagator, meanwhile, has just entered the room — the former prime minister in a tie of a distinctly more sombre hue. He looks — actually, like he had a better night’s sleep than ITQ, to be honest; thank you, Parliamentarian of the Year Awards.
And – we’re back in session, and Wolson has a Schreiber update: He’s still in hospital, in “recovery mode” — still no solid food, and Auger has, not surprisingly, yet to have the opportunity to consult with his client. He’ll keep the judge – and the rest of us – posted.
Ooh, and it seems that Team Oliphant – that’s the commission counsel, and no, I’m not entirely happy with that moniker; I’ll see if I can come up with something a little more catchy – anyway, they’ve upped the ante on exhibit presentation, preparing a single binder with all necessary documents.
10:35:26 AM And – it’s on. After an ever so slightly offbeat approach to the usual opening questions – instead of asking about Mulroney’s background, noting that, really, he’s gone over that ground sufficiently with his own lawyer over the last two days, Wolson reads an excerpt from Mulroney’s memoirs related to his – Mulroney’s, that is – experience as a commissioner; in particular, his description of the lead counsel for that body as a “bulldog” for truth. He’s no bulldog, he tells Mulroney, but he does have some “difficult questions.” So say we all.
Wolson directs Mulroney back to that infamous letter of request – the Swiss letter – and leads the witness — wait, that’s the wrong word, guides him, then — through the main allegations, leading slowly, but inexorably to a series of yes or no questions surrounding the *context* — does he not see how his dealings with Schreiber — meeting with him in hotel rooms, and accepting cash-stuffed envelopes — “it would have absolutely fueled the raging fire of suspicion that was out there,” no? Mulroney agrees – or doesn’t disagree – but notes that’s a hypothetical question. Yes, that’s true — and yet it’s not much of a comeback.
At the time he was examined, Wolson notes, there was a “legal commercial relationship” between he and Schreiber, yes? Yes – and Mulroney is already looking worn, by the way.
After a question on when that perfectly legal arrangement began — at Harrington Lake, or Mirabel — Mulroney unwisely tries to score a point by pointing out that *Schreiber* originally testified that the deal was struck after he had left office, and Wolson reminds Mulroney that he’s not going to cross-examine him on what Schreiber may or may not have said — after all, it has been demonstrated that Schreiber may have told an untruth or two during the Eurocopter testimony. He then breaks away for a moment to reassure Mulroney that he’s not here to embarrass him, or cause discomfort to him or his family — he’s here to “do a job”, just like that bulldog from Mulroney’s past commission experience.
And — off to an exchange, recorded and related in various accounts, including Kaplan’s book, between Mulroney and Lavoie, in which he – Mulroney – allegedly said that the biggest problem for Sheppard, the main examiner at that deposition was that he was going to ask questions, and expect him to answer. Mulroney tries to pass it off as something said in jest – really, lighten *up*, people – although he also questions whether the remarks actually occured just before the examination; he recalls saying it before entering the House of Commons. Isn’t it possible it’s a line he has used more than once?
Wolson reads from Mulroney’s testimony at that deposition, and one of numerous tirades he launched at the government for defiling his good name with such sordid allegations, in which he said he “had never had any dealings with him,” – the famous “had had” hubbub, in other words, and asks just what Mulroney was referring to at the time. Mulroney obligingly gives much the same answer as he did when under the far less pointed queries from Pratte, and Wolson asks, just to be clear – Mulroney interpreted this as an “Airbus question”? Yes – an entirely justifiable interpretation, according to Mulroney. Well, we’ll see.
Wolson goes through the previous responses asked by Sheppard during that examination, which ran the gamut from his first meeting with Schreiber, the “early days”, and included the “pretty clear, open-ended question” of what relationship they had. In the context of the allegations, Mulroney reminds him, and Wolson moves on through Sheppard’s subsequent questions, not conceding the point to which Mulroney is clinging, barnacle-like.
Wolson notes that, throughout the transcript, when Mulroney mentions Bear Head, he usually also refers to NATO, but only once does he mention the United Nations, and only in the context of that December meeting, and the brochures festooned with the UN logo. There’s then almost a shouting match — well, not shouting, but ever so slightly raised voices match, at least – when Wolson tries to shut down Mulroney’s claim that he was *always* had the United Nations in mind — after all, the former prime minister points out, only the UN does peacekeeping. Anyway, Mulroney notes that the UN aspect first came up at the August 27 meeting with Schreiber — “when he paid you $75,000”, Wolson adds, helpfully. When he retained Mulroney’s services for future work, the witness somewhat defensively corrects him. Mulroney then tries to explain how his lawyers instructed him to answer in the “limited context”, prompting Wolson to point out that these issues – Bear Head, the UN – were all outside the “limited context”, yet Mulroney was willing to answer numerous questions on the Bear Head project, although given what we now know about the legal, commercial arrangement between the two men, those answers may not have been “fulsome”, Wolson offhandedly suggests. Mulroney snits – I’m sorry, I know it doesn’t sound very leonine, in winter or not, but that’s what he’s doing: snitting – that his answers were “truthful”.
It’s a humdinger of a point, though: if Mulroney was so mindful of not setting a toe outside the oh so limited context of the lawsuit, why was he so expansive in his description of the Bear Head project?
More re-re-reading of the transcript that was re-read at length yesterday afternoon; I understand why Wolson is taking this tack, and he’s mercifully more succinct than Pratte in his excerpting, but it still feels like we’ve seen this exchange before — and before that, even. Mulroney reminds him that he didn’t have to detail his every meeting with Schreiber – again, technically true, but Wolson seems unmoved: the lawsuit revolved around the Airbus allegations, and specifically, that he had received $5 million in a numbered Swiss account, but Wolson gets to do the reminding now — that Bear Head, and MBB Helicopters, were *also* referenced in the letter of request. That may be true, Mulroney concedes, but in *his* mind, it was all about Airbus. How convenient that his mind came up with just the right interpretation that made it possible to omit any mention of his post-prime ministerial dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber.
And — Mulroney just learned too late that his habit of strategically off-topic yet always oddly self-serving reminiscences from his years in government holds far more risk when it is Wolson at the mic and not Guy Pratte: While waxing Mulronical about how for Canada, peacekeeping changed after the intervention in the Balkans, he just gave Wolson an opening to inquire whether this means he *does* recall discussing Bear Head in *that* context with Doucet and MacKay, while still in office; Mulroney then has to awkwardly retreat from his anecdote to make it clear that he wasn’t referring to an actual – or “official” discussion, but something that was “in the air”. If Wolson had a tail, it would be lashing.
Interesting: Not even an hour in, and Pratte has already raised a – not an objection, but the gentle suggestion that Wolson give his client more context when reading from the transcript; which is fine by him, really, as it turns out — the two go a few more rounds before landing on a question that asked Mulroney about his relationship with Schreiber *after* leaving office – again, a fairly open-ended question – and those meetings where, according to Mulroney Then, he had a cup of coffee with the man, but according to What Actually Happened, he also received $75,000 in cash.
Mulroney then, somewhat bizarrely, ends up retroactively armchair quarterbacking Sheppard’s 1996 performance — his questions were all over the place; he kept jumping around, and never asked the right one. Maybe if he had — and yeah, that goes over as well as you can expect with Wolson, who reminds him that there were no more than a handful of people who knew anything about that commercial relationship that was so legal and yet so clandestine at the time, and of those, only one was in the room. How could nine government lawyers – or nine hundred government lawyers – know to ask him about those hotel room meetings, and the money that changed hands? Mulroney – who is getting a touch exercised – reminds him that it wasn’t his job to help out the government — after all, he was spending two days under “interrogation”. Which is more traditionally known as “examination”, and was the result of a lawsuit *he* commenced.
Oliphant jumps in to point out that, on that whole “limited context” thing, Mulroney was only too happy to volunteer the information that Schreiber had hired Marc Lalonde. Mulroney does his best to make that sound not at all contradictory, and Oliphant says — nothing. Not a good sign, I’m thinking.
Once again, Mulroney reminds all and sundry that he had been willing to go to Ottawa and answer questions on *every aspect* of his life – unlimited context! Whoo! – complete with documents in hand, and – well, anyway, the government turned him down flat. Flat! Hey, does the minister of justice actually have the power – or should he exercise the discretion – to short circuit an ongoing RCMP investigating by bringing a person who may or may not be of interest in for a friendly chat?
Anyway, basically, Mulroney insists that if he’d been asked the right question, he would have given a complete and truthful answer. Hey, isn’t that a hypothetical answer?
He’s definitely getting angry, by the way. He keeps interrupting Wolson, and his voice is raising by the moment. It isn’t working, either; Wolson repeats that none of them – not a single one of those nine lawyers – knew about that ostensibly legitimate commercial relationship. Mulroney switches to his Mighty Wounded Warrior Defence – you can tell that one by how often he lashes out at his favourite targets – in this case, Fiegenwald – and how frequently he tags “and my family” onto his gripes about the many wrongs he’s been done.
Ooh, Wolson first agrees with one of Mulroney’s arguments — a witness *shouldn’t* have to make lengthy speeches at inquiries — before disagreeing with his main point that he was under no obligation to mention anything more than the cups of coffee that he had with Schreiber. In response, Mulroney again blames Sheppard’s poor questioning, and notes that he – Sheppard – actually *interrupted* him in mid-answer. So — if he hadn’t been interrupted, he would have eventually mentioned the envelope full of cash? Really? No, not really.
Yes, we’re still on the transcript — and specifically, the coffee reply, and Wolson points out that Mulroney actually related “a good part” of what was discussed that meeting — the hiring of Marc Lalonde, Schreiber’s planned legal action against the government, that sort of thing — but didn’t tell him the “full story” — you know, the one that ends with the cash changing hands. Mulroney insists that was because Sheppard didn’t ask the right question, although he allows that Wolson may, of course, disagree. I’m sure he appreciates the permission. At which point Mulroney goes off on a tangent about an “error in the transcript” – a question misattributed as part of his reply – but Wolson isn’t going to be distracted: in order to give the “complete story” of what transpired at Mirabel, or in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, he would have to mention the money.
“I answer the question honestly,” Mulroney insists.
12:02:49 PM Oh, great — now Mulroney is asking *Wolson* questions. This can only end unpleasantly, particularly since Wolson stubbornly persists in reminding him that *nobody knew about the deal* – and how would they, what with there being no paper trail? The money wouldn’t show up in his bank accounts, there was no evidence that could have been uncovered — how would they know to ask the question?
Oliphant wonders if every one of those nine lawyers “had a crack at him”, and Mulroney is forced to admit that actually, these were the lawyers for several parties — the government, but also the RCMP and others — and it was actually just one — the hapless, topic-jumping Sheppard — who asked most of the questions. Oliphant also points out that, during his earlier soliloque on all the dark forces against him convening at that deposition, Mulroney seemed to be complaining about the presence of Sgt. Fiegenwald – who, of course, was a defendent in the lawsuit, and had “every right” to be there. The witness agrees, and then comes out with a seemingly contradictory comment: He was actually *glad* Fiegenwald was there — that was how he was able to see how very, very wrong he had been to take the word of the diabolical Stevie Cameron, and the sinister George Pelossi, and — yes, and so on. Oliphant just looks — thoughtful.
One more quote — this time, for variety, from a more recent source: his interview with Kaplan, when Mulroney noted that he was fully aware that, by bringing suit in Quebec, his entire life would be up for discovery at the pre-plea examination. His entire life — within the context of that lawsuit, Mulroney elaborates, admittedly somewhat after the fact. There’s a bit of back and forth of a jocular sort over the media, and we break for lunch – but not before the judge confesses to a “certain disability” under which he is currently operating — apparently, he’s come down with a bad case of the bad knee, and won’t be able to leave the courtroom right away, so he dismisses us with the admonishment not to bother waiting for him to leave the room. Aww. Poor Judge Oliphant! ITQ sends along her best wishes for a speedy recovery — and really, first Schreiber’s gallbladder, now this. Are we cursed? Oooo eeee ooo.
And with that, I leave you all til 2pm. Don’t be late!
No, we haven’t snuck back into session – although really, I think the judge should seriously consider initiating a staggered lunch break, since the current format means that the sixty-odd inmates of the Victoria Room simultaneously storm the cafeteria – but I thought I’d just mention to any twittficianados out there that this little inquiry of ours has its very own David Akin-approved hashtag over at #oli. ITQ, sadly, is unable to partake in the realtime fun, what with having her thumbs more than full keeping y’all updated the oldfashioned way, but I figure the more, the merrier.
Wolson, meanwhile, is back at the lectern – well, pacing purposefully in the immediate vicinity, at least, and the other legal teams are starting to assemble as well, although really, it seems unlikely that Wolson will finish up in time to give the next lawyer in line a shot at the witness. We’re now predicting that the cross examination will go at least one day longer than scheduled — which would take us to Tuesday — although it could even extend even further into next week, depending on — you know, the stuff on which such matters depend.
Hmmm. This is odd: Mulroney has yet to reappear from the subterranean antechamber. I mean, he still has a few minutes til we’re supposed to resume, but usually, the witness is in his (or her) place well before.
Oh, never mind. There he is — standing behind his chair, and looking oddly like he’s posing for an official portrait.
Wolson has “just a few more questions” on that 1996 examination — first, would he agree that, while Sheppard might not have known about his “lawful commercial arrangement” with Schreiber, he – the former prime minister – did – to which Mulroney concurs, because what else can he do? He – Sheppard – did also ask him about his contacts with Mr. Schreiber, and a dulcet-toned Mulroney notes that the question was *whether* he had any contact with him; when Wolson presses him to admit that the reason why he didn’t bring up the other matter was that it would have fed into the allegations swirling around him. After Mulroney replies, primly, that he didn’t answer the question because it wasn’t asked, he goes into The Diatribe again; nine lawyers conspiring to crush him, the full weight of government being brought to bear to destroy him and his family, etcetera etcetera — seriously, enough. Enough.
Did he have a “friendship” with Schreiber? He had an acquaintenceship – and not an unfriendly one – the former prime minister replies. Did he send that telegram to Schreiber at the Ritz Carleton, congratulating him for attaining his citizenship? He did – after a draft was prepared for him, and he was told to do so, of course. Who got to tell Mulroney what to do?
Wolson is still trying to find out if Mulroney – who was then still president of Iron Ore Canada – met Schreiber at the Ritz Carleton before his leadership campaign, which prompts Mulroney to explain how he sent *lots* of telegrams, letters and sundry otherings during his Iron Ore days, although it sounds as though that was more about politics than business, really – he mentions the loss under Clark, and how it “wasn’t a pleasant time” for the party.
Basically, as far as the scale of Mulroney friendship went, Schreiber was nowhere near the closeness with which he held Elmer MacKay.
An intriguing shift in subtopic by Wolson, he gets Mulroney to expand on the praise he heaped on then Privy Council Clerk Paul Tellier during yesterday’s appearance, and Mulroney is happy to do so. He agrees with Wolson’s assessment – Tellier was there to advise him, and more than that, to protect him — in the sense that he’d warn Mulroney if there was trouble brewing.
Another frequently reappearing name: Gary Ouellette – a principal with GCI, and a lawyer – and, as per Mulroney, a friend, as were the Doucet brothers. Gerry, Mulroney recalls, was the leader of a “worthy” family of Acadians, and Fred — who testified here, Wolson notes, and is, of course, in the audience unless he slipped out without my noticing, that he was a very close friend, a position with which Mulroney agrees.
More about Fred — including the newspaper story with the vaguely creepy quote from Gerry Doucet talking about his and Mulroney’s ability to read each other’s thoughts through body language – and — oh, that’s where he was going: Wolson now reminds Mulroney that all of the above mentioned individuals, as well as several more, received handsome cheques from Schreiber following the signing of the Understanding in Principle. Was Mulroney aware of any of these very good friends getting these payments? No, no, no and no.
Micropause. Wolson is the master of the micropause.
Mulroney does *not* like the question Wolson just asked about a sizeable donation by Schreiber to what Mulroney calls “the so-called leadership review movement”, and Mulroney challenges the premise, as we used to say back during QP: he points out that Schreiber has said that he made *no* donation to Mulroney’s campaign in Winnipeg, and Wolson once again reminds him – gently, but firmly – that he *has* to ask these questions. Mulroney again disputes the notion of the mysterious Quebeckers who appeared – and disappeared – one fateful Winnipeg night, and – that’s apparently it for that subsubtangent.
Oh, and Schreiber had *no* access to Mulroney – he had access to MacKay, yes, and eventually hired Doucet. He wonders how “protected” a prime minister is: Can anyone get in to his office? No – although he’s always happy to see a voter, Mulroney jokes. “Schreiber’s access to you was twofold,” Wolson suggests – through “Elmer” and “Fred”. Did it strike him as unusual that Fred, just weeks out of government, was bringing Schreiber before him to sell him on the Bear Head project? Wait — he didn’t do that, Mulroney insists — he has no recollection of that meeting — or any meeting, just “weeks” after leaving government, which the two eventually agreed took place in August 1987. “We’ll go through some of those meetings,” Wolson promises, before moving to yet another different but related topic – careful, you know how the witness feels about jumpy examiners – that of Lowell Murray’s testimony.
Oh, it wasn’t unrelated at all, I guess — he’s still pursuing the Bear Head angle, and that memo from Doucet earlier in 1987, in which he mentions the support of the then-PM for the project, and noting that he needs the approval of Perrin Beatty by July.
Oh, and here he goes — Mulroney denies giving Doucet permission to use his name when backing the Bear Head project — recall that he claims to have made it clear that, if confronted by anyone purporting to be acting in his name, the confronted minister or staffer should throw that usurper out of their office and alert the real prime minister at the earliest possible opportunity. Anyway, Mulroney claims to have been unaware that such a discussion had even take place, despite the fact that it allegedly included at least two of his very close friends — MacKay, and Doucet — the latter of whom was, at the time, Ambassador at Large for Organizing Summits. First these meetings, then the post-UiP cheques from Schreiber — those guys just didn’t tell him anything, did they?
Oh, remember the $6 million in Thyssen “success fee”/retainer payments that Schreiber was spreading around? Mulroney has asked himself, why did the project keep shifting and evolving and surviving, despite all odds and Paul Tellier against it? Because Schreiber, as far as Mulroney’s theory goes, had already spent the money, and had somehow convinced Thyssen that the project was a go, which explains why he was so endlessly energetic about ensuring that it wouldn’t die. Also, there was something about slipping a $500,000 cash payment to Hastert in that last burst of speculation, but I missed the specifics. Wolson — doesn’t really react, but I suspect Auger has just started writing a new line of questioning for his cross-examination; he doesn’t need.his client to be conscious to figure that one out.
Another lunch – this one with Sam Wekam, Rick Logan and Rick Schreiber, the very notion at which Mulroney scoffs — “That would be a first” — before pointing out that just because something shows up in a Schreiber datebook doesn’t mean it’s actually *true*.
It transpires that there is a little bit more to back up the existence of that particular meeting — a letter, sent by Schreiber a few days afterwards, in which he talked about what a “great pleasure” it was to meet with him, which Mulroney doesn’t remember receiving, although he suspects it may have been in the context of the party’s annual general meeting. He did, however, reply to it the next day with a letter of his own that also mentioned “meeting with him”.
Would he send letters like that to any delegate he encountered at a party event, Wolson wonders — yes, he would, although it doesn’t imply anything more substantial than that. Mulroney reminds Wolson that he once ran into Schreiber outside a washroom, only to have the latter begin referring to it as “the Royal York meeting”.
And – somehow, we’ve plunged back into Bear Head vs. The Bureaucracy — a spinoff from the main plot, really, albeit one that is proving surprisingly effective at keeping one guessing — I’m sure there’s a strategy here, with the switching from Schreiber contact to Bear Head developments — but without the binders, it can be hard to follow the details.
Anyway, Wolson points Mulroney to a July 1990 entry from the Schreiberdiary, which mentions a breakfast with Mulroney – and prompts the intriguing disclosure by the former prime minister that he’s actually seen a *photo* from that breakfast — which included himself, Elmer, Fred, David McLaughlin — and Schreiber, of course. Mulroney suggests that this shows the meeting was almost certainly at Elmer’s request, and Wolson wonders at that: a mere ordinary Canadian might never be able to meet with the prime minister, Schreiber was somehow able to do so, over and over again, through Mulroney’s friends. Mulroney seems to miss the point — he wants to go back to his theory about Schreiber having to do some fancy footwork to get Thyssen off his back about that $6 million, when Wolson, quite reasonably, points out that Schreiber already *had* a billion dollar motive to sell Canada on the Bear Head project. In other words, the $6 million wouldn’t have mattered at all if the deal went through. Mulroney reminds Wolson that, at the time, everyone in Ottawa thought of Schreiber as a jolly, respectable German-Canadian businessman; an accomplished entrepreneur. Really, tho, his success was due to his closeness with Elmer MacKay, as far as Mulroney was concerned.
Somehow, we just dropped into the middle of one of the fundamental questions before the inquiry — why didn’t Mulroney simply ask Schreiber for a cheque instead of cash? Actually, other than the optics, would that have really made a difference, as far as the action itself?
Okay, that was spooky — Wolson just asked that exact same question. Word for almost word. Apparently, it would, somehow, although as Wolson points out, he could have simply deposited the cash into his bank account. Mulroney, however, seems to feel otherwise, and Wolson decides it’s as good a time as any for a break.
Oh, an interesting pre-break bit of inquiry intel from the judge — he just wants everyone out there – the public, that is – to know that there’s nothing untoward about lawyers talking to their clients while on the stand — alone, in pairs — “even if there were nine of them”. Apparently, the question came up – and now, it has been answered. I love an interactivist judiciary.
Back in fifteen.
ITQ Index (Afternoon Recess Edition):
Number of lawyers who were aligned against Mulroney at the “interrogation” invoked by his own lawsuit: 9
Number of parties they represented, in total: 3
Number of lawyers representing Brian Mulroney at this inquiry: 7
The poor judge is still here – his knee prevents him from ascending to chambers for such a brief recess, I guess. I don’t know exactly how he indicates that we should rise without, you know, coming back up the stairs. Maybe he should hide behind his desk, and pop up at the appropriate moment.
Oh wait, there — he’s gone. Protocol crisis averted!
We’re back – and it’s official: Mulroney back on Tuesday; Wednesday: Someone from PMO correspondence; Former (Harper) PMO aide Lanny Cardow (hey, I know him), Two people from the Canada Revenue Agency and Fred Bill, former ambassador to China; and on Thursday, Schreiber will be reexamined, and have his motion heard, presuming he’s healthy enough to do so. That’s the schedule, “tenuous as it might be”, according to the judge.
Oh, and apparently, Auger did get to speak to Schreiber today, and the doctors will assess him to see if he can go home tomorrow. “Feels like an episode of General Hospital,” Wolson comments, prompting the judge to ask about the Commission Baby — one of the lawyers is an expectant father, apparently.
Back to business — tab business, in fact – and the daily schedule for July 3, 1990 — that item notes the location as 7 Rideau Gate, although Mulroney initially recalled it as taking place in an alcove at 24 Sussex. Mulroney notes that actually, given the date, 24 would have been closed for the summer, so yes, it would’ve happened across the street.
Wait, Mulroney doesn’t actually have a copy of this photo? He just remembers seeing it? That’s — not all that helpful for the rest of us.
Okay, on July 4th – the day after the breakfast – Paul Tellier met with MacKay and Schreiber, which is confirmed in both Schreiber’s diary, and a memo from Tellier to Mulroney noting that he had met with the pair, at the PM’s request. Mulroney, Wolson notes, has once again fallen into mm-hmming, which is very much frowned upon for transcriptionary purposes.
Mulroney goes off on a happily non-conspiracy-against-him-related tangent on his ministerial management practices; basically, he gave his cabinet members a free hand to run their respective files, but if a conflict arose – like, for instance, the alleged fricafrac between Defence and ACOA over Bear Head – he may have asked Tellier to meet with the parties involved in order to advise him on any necessary action.
Confronted by yet another letter from Schreiber — this one related to Mother’s Day – Mulroney denies having seen it — these sorts of correspondences would never have made it to the PM’s desk.
But he did find time to meet with – in Mulroney’s own words, just now – “hundreds of Schreibers,” Wolson notes. On an ongoing basis? No – it wasn’t in any way exceptional, Mulroney tells him. “Of course, they’d have to have the same connections he had,” Wolson notes – without an Elmer or a Fred, or an Elmer- or Fred-type, it would be impossible.
Mulroney points out one of Schreiber’s odder claims, in one of those letters he never got around to reading at the time — it involves East German-trained Mohawks with armor-piercing weapons — and he and Wolson agree that it seems that Schreiber was putting it on a bit thick; Wolson, however, reminds Mulroney that he was meeting with this man, even if he wasn’t reading his mail.
Another meeting with Schreiber — this time, along with Bob Fowler and Paul Tellier — which Mulroney does seem to recall, at least vaguely, as it was related to the deterioration of the current tanks, and – oh, but Wolson suggests that perhaps the former PM is getting ahead of himself, since this was *before* he killed the project. Mulroney, however, assures him that Schreiber would have been there with bells on — no, wait, that’s not right; with whatever the then current iteration of the Bear Head project happened to be.
When Mulroney points out, somewhat sarcastically, that by this point, as per his letters, Schreiber considered he and Mulroney to be “old friends”, Wolson finally has enough — well, not *that* kind of enough, but he points out that one of the big issues here is the continuing clash between how the two men characterize their relationship; Mulroney suggests that an upcoming letter from Paul Tellier ought to back up his version, and Wolson promises that they’ll get there eventually.
Ahh, the 1990 InSpectorGation, which – oh, you remember that one; it ended badly for Bear Head. In this memo, Tellier tells the PM’s chief of staff that those putative Bear Head jobs would cost $2 million each, which was a lot of money back then. Also, now.
Finally, we’re at that impromptu meeting between Tellier, Doucet and Schreiber — the one that the PM instructed Tellier to make time for while on a rare drop-in at Langevin, which was memorialized by a followup letter from Schreiber, in which he mentions the meeting, but “challenges” Tellier – but it’s obvious which view would persuade the PM — “ten times out of ten”, Mulroney agrees — and it’s “not KHS”.
So, Wolson summarizes, here’s Mulroney in late 1990, being told by Schreiber that “his people” can’t be believed, and up pops Pratte to remind Wolson that just because things are being said, it doesn’t mean that the then-prime minister would have heard them — he hadn’t been reading the letters, after all. They went *somewhere*, Wolson points out – and presumably would be read by someone on his staff, but Mulroney doesn’t agree — this wouldn’t have likely even have made it to his chief of staff.
Finally, the Tellier memo – in which he delineates the various inaccuracies in Schreiber’s letter – hey, I guess someone *did* read at least one of them – that Mulroney has been so anxious awaiting, and which he describes as a “litany” of misstatements.
Okay, so — other than the fact that I’m now consumed with the question of how anyone would – or, in Mulroney’s mind – could take offence at the phrase “butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth”, Wolson’s point here seems to be that, given that meeting with Schreiber that was so radically re-imagined in his subsequent letter to the prime minister, Tellier would likely have tipped him off as to the dubiousity of his ostensible bona fides – and – somehow, we’re back on the highway to Buckingham, and that famous drive with Norm Spector, which has something to do with how the scales finally fell from Mulroney’s eyes on Schreiber and/or Bear Head, although when that was is somewhat ambiguous — not then, but sometime after he left office.
Oh, there we go — I was wondering how this would wind down for the day, and it just did. ITQ is signing off from Old City Hall, but will be back tomorrow at the usual time.