I just had a conversation with an Unnamed Senior Conservative, at my request, on assorted topics. One was this kerfuffle between the Conservative Party and Brian Mulroney. Despite assorted reports, the U.S.C. is sticking to three elements of the story as it originally broke:
• Brian Mulroney has not held a valid Conservative Party membership card since 2006.
• He telephoned “a very senior party official” — it’s in several accounts this morning that the person in question was Irving Gerstein, and I didn’t get a denial from the U.S.C. — within the last three months, with a serious, specific request to be removed from any list the party keeps. “It wasn’t a joking, ha ha, ‘I don’t want to be in the leaders’ circle’ thing,” the U.S.C. said.
• He is “welcome to take out a membership today or any time, if he likes.”
The Unnamed Senior Conservative asserted that Stephen Harper’s circle has no interest in picking fights with Mulroney, who has many admirers in Harper’s caucus, but neither is the party backing down from what are, at least in part, easily verifiable questions of fact. The Conservatives, as Liberals often lament, keep up-to-date and easily-checked membership lists. Mulroney’s name does not figure on them. Gerstein comes from the P.C. wing of the party, not from Reform. What about Mulroney’s claim, through a spokesman, that he is a Conservative member and will be “until the day that I die?” The U.S.C. was mystified. “Is that some kind of metaphysical state, like Citizen of the World?”
So far Mulroney has put up his advocates to bluster on his behalf, but he has not been able to demonstrate that the Conservatives’ assertions are false. Perhaps he said things in a telephone conversation with Gerstein that he now regrets. It would not be the first time he has babbled into a telephone.