After three days on the stand, we’re still waiting for those seven scandals that the witness promised to deliver as he headed into the hearing room last Tuesday, but keep in mind that the final round of questions goes to Schreiber Schtrikeforce lead counsel Richard Auger, who will likely make every effort to ensure that Schreiber gets an opportunity to explain all those inconsistencies and contradictions that have cropped up between his past and present testimony.
Before Auger takes the floor, however, Team Mulroney’s Guy Pratte will get one more chance to grill his client’s former international business associate, and Robert Houston, who represents Fred Doucet, gave notice yesterday afternoon that he plans to spend a couple of hours on this witness — and then there’s Judge Oliphant himself, who may have a few as yet unanswered questions as well.
You know you’re at the Oliphant Inquiry when the security guards are trading theories about Schreiber’s testimony between laments over the previous night’s hockey game.
Welcome back to Camp Oliphant – which is holding a rare Friday hearing in order to make up for the holiday weekend, and where the media contingent is holding up surprisingly well, considering. Then again, with Auger up later today, there’s always the possibility of an afternoon surprise outbreak of news. Such is what we reporters live for, after all.
No good mornings, no cordial inquiries into the quality of his belated nap last night — it’s right back to business for Pratte, who directs Schreiber back to the binder that covers the fifth estate lawsuit. Schreiber, however, has other ideas: He interrupts Pratte to apologize to him for being so very tired yesterday afternoon – he is, after all, 75 years old, he reminds the comparatively boyish lawyer, and then tries to go off on an entirely different tangent, much to Pratte’s surprise. Schreiber wants to explain how, in his questions, Pratte is attempting to exactly the same thing as he tried at the Ethics committee – what, exactly, is not clear, and as Pratte points out, he wasn’t actually a witness at that particular committee. The judge eventually blows the whistle – figuratively speaking, although that’s not a bad idea for future hearings – and reminds the witness that despite the best efforts of the commission to inveigle parliamentary agreement, those committee proceedings are privileged, so Schreiber – and everyone else – might want to stay away from testimony that transpired therein.
Auger pipes up to point out that the questions are also bordering on areas covered by solicitor-client privilege, but Oliphant assures him that Pratte is an experienced lawyer, and knows what he can and can’t ask; if he doesn’t, Auger can always intervene.
Now that the opening battlelines have been drawn, it’s back to that “letter of comfort” that Mulroney’s lawyer requested – “assurances of comfort”. Schreiber says that *his* recollection was that he had been asked to deliver an affidavit, but Pratte reminds him that this is – or was – his lawyer’s account – and he never uses the word “affidavit”, only “letter”.
Schreiber is definitely trying to push Pratte’s buttons – he once again started to point out something that was said at Ethics, which turned out to have the perhaps unanticipated side effect of giving Oliphant the opportunity to voice a little of the frustration that he – and the commission – clearly feel over being deprived of the testimony at Ethics. He reminds Schreiber that his lawyers did ask Parliament to waive privilege, but were rebuffed, and notes that if they’d challenged the refusal in federal court, they’d likely still be mired in uncertainty. Schreiber chuckles in his most avuncular manner before pointing out that the committee was *also* frustrated during its work – they weren’t able to get all the documents from the RCMP, after all.
Pratte gets back to the fifth estate – yes, I know, I think we’re all wondering just how CBC can best exploit this all this indirect earned media for upcoming promos – and Schreiber’s extradiction woes, as explained to/by Linden McIntyre, during which he described a “lavish lunch” at the Savoy with Brian Mulroney — who was not, Pratte hurries to establish, there just to see Schreiber, but who invited him to dine in his suite.
Did Schreiber know who *paid* for the lunch, Pratte wonders. It wasn’t him, after all, and apparently, it was a pressing enough question for Schreiber that he wrote to the manager of the hotel in question to find out.
Okay, so somehow, the fact that Schreiber wrote to the hotel to get confirmation that he – Schreiber – didn’t pay for the lunch in question, even though he *knew* who had picked up the tab. Although actually, neither he nor Pratte has come out and said that it was the former PM who footed the bill, but I guess that’s what we’re supposed to conclude, since in this case, Pratte claims that the whole letter-writing ruse was to embarrass Mulroney by going public – via the CBC, of course – with the sordid details of what Schreiber describes as a “2,000 franc salmon lunch”. Okay, that does sound rather extravagant for three people.
You know, Pratte really has to work on maintaining control of his cross examination; Schreiber is definitely getting bolder about interrupting him, and the judge seems to be fairly noninterventionalist as far as curtailing his increasingly frequent pushback to lines of questioning that he finds unfair. (That’s been true with past witnesses as well, for the record.)
Also, I’m not sure why Pratte thinks that the fact that Schreiber has been calling for a public inquiry for more than a decade is necessarily a fatal indictment of his character and credibility, since it’s not as though it was a particularly closely kept secret — his desire for a full public airing of the whole saga weaves in and out of his scrawling correspondence with prime ministers past and present — and it doesn’t make him seem any more sinister.
“Speaking of misleading,” Pratte begins, his patience clearly but a distant memory, let’s move to another affidavit, in which Schreiber claimed that Mulroney told him that he was willing to meet with Harper, which he actually found out from MacKay. A minor point, but one that attracts the judge’s interest as well; at the very least, it’s an accidental omission of a third party that changes the inference, as far as what he can testify directly.
More on Schreiber’s travels from Switzerland to Nova Scotia – who paid for that ticket, Pratte wonders — and did Schreiber try to get proof of it, as with the salmon.
Fast forward, then, to his arrest — in Toronto — related to the German charges — $46 million alleged misbegotten dollars, according to Ontario court records, although the total keeps changing, according to Schreiber. We also get a Schreiberism on his ever mercurial relationship with the media — back then, he wasn’t so fond of us, Pratte notes. Sometimes he likes us, sometimes he doesn’t, the witness notes.
Back in Ontario circa 2006, meanwhile, Schreiber was battling extradiction in his own unique way, hiring lawyers and dispatching lengthy diatribes to Vic Toews, Stephen Harper and any number of other luckless ministerial pen pals.
Schreiber once again briefly seizes control from Pratte – who is trying to question him on his fight to stay in Canada – and delivers a thunderous, if somewhat hard to follow, summary of the myriad reasons why the Canadian goverment should have rejected the extradition request – which, Pratte manages to point out when he stops to take a breath, his lawyers have made seven different times before various courts, but have lost every single time. It’s not over, Schreiber assures him – and us – somewhat ominously.
Sorry about that unscheduled gap – these Berry issues always crop up right when things suddenly start getting good on the stand, like Schreiber delivering a spontaneous ode to the journalistic accuracy of Harvey Cashore, who he previously viewed as a “nemesis” most deadly, a shoutout to former Liberal MP Robert Thibault — “What media outlet is he with?” asks the judge, all innocence – whether actual or feigned, ITQ can’t begin to guess, although he seemed genuinely surprised to learn that the two men had actually met prior to his appearance at the Ethics committee– and an accusation from Pratte that Schreiber leaked – or rather, gave his lawyer permission to leak – the crucial affidavit that sparked this entire inquiry. It’s all very dramatic – and Schreiber clearly got a good night’s rest, because he’s giving as good as he gets as far as the back and forth with Pratte.
This whole inquiry, in fact – or so goes Pratte’s line of attack – is just another attempt by Schreiber to dodge the German justice system, isn’t it? Isn’t it? This is clearly meant to be the dramatic conclusion to Pratte’s evisceration of the witness, but Schreiber seems unfussed. He isn’t a “visionary” like Pratte, he points out. I think he means he won’t predict the future, but anyway, that’s it for Team Mulroney – and it’s time for our mid-morning break.
See, I told you today could get exciting!
I’d just like to note that throughout his fantastical oratorical meanderings through past history, Schreiber made a point *not* to condemn the courts as part of the vast conspiracy arrayed against him, which is probably a pretty clever tactic considering the background of the person who is, to him, the most important spectator: Judge Oliphant himself.
Also, he’s taken it upon himself to favour certain journalists – not ITQ, alas, I think he thinks we’re some sort of court transcriptionist who doesn’t realize she’s supposed to sit upfront – with various bits and pieces from the binders and his own treasure trove of documents. During the break, he was handing out copies of the transcript from that Ethics committee meeting that he keeps trying to sneak into his answers.
And we’re back – with a special request from the combined legal forces, minus Pratte for some reason, for a slightly shorter lunch break in order to end a bit earlier today so that all and sundry can enjoy the “glorious day” it is in Ottawa — it’s true; it *is* glorious out there. The judge agrees, earning the silent applause of everyone in the room, and then it’s over to Robert Houston, the next lawyer to take the stand, who represents Fred Doucet, and wants to know more about Schreiber’s diary and address book. Oh boy.
Once again, the binder-jumping befuddles the witness, although not for long: eventually, he and Houston are both gazing at a photocopy of a page from Schreiber’s diary, specifically the page of “D”-initialed acquaintences from his contact list. Not surprisingly, there’s a listing for Gerry Doucet, as well as Edmond Chiasson, who was counsel to Bear Head.
Houston wants to know a little more about the corporate structure of BHI. Were there directors? Was Schreiber one of them? Who held the shares? Schreiber doesn’t recall if any directors were ever appointed, but says that Thyssen was the original shareholder. But according to Houston, the shares were actually held by AIL – which is one of Schreiber’s many shell corporations, isn’t it? In ITQ’s defence, it really is hard to keep them all straight; even Schreiber seems to have difficulty, although that could be deliberate. Anyway, Schreiber dismisses that, and says it must have been a “joke”. Oh, German accounting humour.
Gerry Doucet, however, is listed on corporate documents, as is Fred Doucet – although his last name, Houston observes, is misspelled, even though Gerry’s appears correctly.
More delays in flipping to M – “for Mulroney,” Houston explains, thus spoiling any surprise as to the purpose of this line of questioning – and apparently, his name does, indeed, appear in the diary. Sidebar: Wouldn’t it be fun to see the *rest* of his address book? Imagine the names and numbers! Fax numbers, too, given his predilection for that delivery system for his correspondence.
Anyway, back to the shares, and IAL – which on a subsequent document, the initials of which were “struck out” and replaced by KHS – Schreiber, in other words. Oh, that was just a mistake by Klanke, Schreiber breezes along, Klanke apparently being German for Tibor. Schreiber attempts to explain the Thyssen incorporation process, but Houston – who isn’t one for suffering shillyshally and is already commanding considerably more obedience from Schreiber than did Pratte – has more IAL-related references, including the sale of the shares to Thyssen via the Doucet brothers, who were “custodians” of the stock.
Okay, so we finally get to see where Houston is going with this — he claims the $100,000 deduction was to buy Bear Head shares from Thyssen, which Schreiber categorically denies; he suggests that Houston check the German court records, which show that he was the one who took the money from the Thyssen account, and muses that this is something Houston might want to ask Pelossi. Oh, there are a lot of things that *everyone* will want to ask Pelossi, that’s safe to say.
A change of tabulated scenery, now, and more about the signatures on the original Agreement that resulted in all those “success fees” going out, at least according to Schreiber, and Houston is most curious about the order in which the various signatories put pen to paper, particularly Perrin Beatty, who was last, according to Schreiber, but not according to Beatty – at least, according to Houston, and when Schreiber starts citing Frank Moores as his source, ITQ’s brain explodes, although thankfully, it’s a minor incident with no serious casualties.
The relentless Robert Houston – who, from ITQ’s perspective, is doing a noticeably better job of handling Schreiber than Pratte – may be about to hit a landmine, at least as far as his very pointed questions about the irregular accounting methods deployed by Schreiber; the two eventually end up in a standoff over why the invoices for those “success fees” were set out in a particular way, since Schreiber claims that it was an attempt to, uh, simplify tax matters for the recipients, and Houston points out that the people he claims can corroborate that version of events are either dead or too ill to testify. (The latter qualification, it’s worth noting, refers to Gerry Doucet, Houston’s client’s brother.)
Another oddity in the “success fee” invoices – a mysteriously disappearing $100,000, which Schreiber shruggingly suggests might have gone to Bitucan — “perhaps for Indonesia”. Was he paying himself a success fee too, Houston wonders, to which Schreiber replies, why not?
And now, the death of Bear Head — specifically, when Schreiber began to realize that the project was shuffling to an ignomious death. This is mostly well trodden ground, as far as what Schreiber admits to having known, and when he knew it — although as we learned yesterday, there’s also the separate question of when he *believed* what he knew. The Schreibermind is a mysterious place.
Oh, touche, Fred “The Doorman” Doucet — in response to Houston’s question on whether he took notes from any of these meetings with Mulroney and Fred Doucet, Schreiber tells him he did not – “I’m not a spy”. So people who keep records of meetings are *spies*, Houston boggles. As far as Schreiber is concerned, they are – especially when said notes include all manner of inaccuracies.
And now, onto October 11th and 12th of 1993, as recorded by Schreiber, and the $30,000 figure that appears under the entry for 9am that morning, as do the names Jurgen and Hastedt — two then-Thyssen employees — and listings for later that afternoon and the next day that mention Doucet and Edmond Chiasson, a “staunch” Liberal supporter – as is his wife, Houston points out – and a repeat of the $30,000 from the previous page, and that list of politicians – and Chiasson.
What does all this mean? Well, according to Houston, it means that Schreiber knew all along that the money was going to these particular politicians. At which point Schreiber tells him that he wasn’t even in Canada at the time, so — oh, really, I give up. I can’t figure out why it matters whether he knew or didn’t know about the donations; as far as I know, they all got the money. Didn’t they? Does it matter whether Schreiber discussed what must have seen like charmingly tiny sums of money to be parcelled out to politicians from either side of the aisle while he was in Germany, or Canada? Other than inspiring a sense of deep appreciation for the various electoral financing reforms that have since been foisted upon our democratic process?
Oh, here’s something that Schreiber might have wanted to mention a little earlier in the process: When something appears in his diary, it represents his *intention* to do something — not necessarily what actually happened. Is it just me, or is that – kind of important? Does he correct entries when events don’t transpire according to plan?
Ahh, the New York meeting, at which Schreiber contends that Doucet was an uninvited guest – well, at the meeting with Mulroney, that is, which I guess is where Houston is going with this. More pointing at diary entries, including an encounter of some sort with Greg Alford – up next week, I believe.
We *are* getting a lunch break, right?
Oh, and Houston is doing his best to demolish Schreiber’s claim that he didn’t expect Doucet to be there by pointing out that he – Schreiber, I guess – had made sure that he had a copy of the defence white paper that was discussed during the New York meeting, as well as the “Quebec project”, which Schreiber maintains was still alive, even after the election of the Parti Quebecois – until mid- to late-1995.
One thing Schreiber *does* recall, however, is Fred Doucet being on the phone, and waving it out the window — even though Houston challenges him now with the fact that Doucet *didn’t even have a cell phone*, a revelation made somewhat less thrilling when Schreiber points out that it could just as easily have been a land line, since it was right by said window.
Okay, so I guess we *aren’t* getting a lunch break today — it was supposed to be at 1, I think, but Houston just told the judge that he has another half hour or so to go. Oliphant gives Schreiber the choice of carrying on, or breaking for lunch, and Schreiber assures him that he’s fine with the former: it’s during the afternoons that he gets tired.
And so, onward we plunge — to the memofied meeting between Doucet and Schreiber at which Schreiber claims that he told The Doorman that he wouldn’t commit perjury.
Okay, this is getting irritating: Houston keeps referring to what he’s been “instructed” his client will testify, at least when it will contradict Schreiber’s version of events. Which he will probably do in the next few weeks – certainly by the end of the hearings – and will do so under oath, and subject to cross examination by the *other* parties’ lawyers, so why does he – or rather his lawyer – get to grill Schreiber on testimony that hasn’t yet been given?
More questions about Doucet’s memo on that meeting with Schreiber, and the various salacious comments that Doucet claims that Schreiber said at the time.
Ah, and another pass at solving the enigma of the last paragraph of the memo – on which, if I were Houston, I’d not spend too much time at all, as it suggests that Schreiber was so hard up for cash that he was demanding payment from media outlets seeking interviews, which the witness once again dismisses as “nonsense”, and repeats his theory that actually, that sounds more like *Pelossi*, not him.
Oh, and remember all those pictures of Mulroney and Doucet that decorated the latter’s office? It’s a small point, Houston allows, but his client will testify that these were in his *private* office, which Schreiber went through *after* the meeting. Schreiber maintains that he was only ever in one room with Doucet, and resists Houston’s nagging to acknowledge his fuzziness.
Bob Houston has a theory, y’all – about that $250,000 figure that appeares on the mandate letter: It was because he – Schreiber – had forgotten how much money he paid Mulroney, and had actually slipped $100,000 into *his* pocket. Huh. Will Doucet testify to that, I wonder? That will make for an interesting cross examination.
Houston – who has a rather disagreeably hectoring tone, I have to say, that grates more with every passing moment, although that could be the low blood sugar crankiness kicking in – also doesn’t think much of Schreiber’s explanation for his handwriting appearing on the mandate letter, and spends his last few minutes in an effort to — I don’t know exactly, get Schreiber to confess to having written it all out? If so, he will have to learn to live with disappointment, because Schreiber sticks to his story to the end. Or at least the end of the morning session, which has now arrived. The hearing reconvenes at 1:45 – so check back then. In the meantime, the ITQ thumbs need a break – and some sunshine. See you in an hour!
It’s amazing how even a short — well, relatively speaking — lunch break can restore a liveblogger’s equilibrium, not to mention the elasticity of her thumbs. We’re now awaiting the return of the judge and the kickoff of the afternoon session, which may prove to be just as illuminating — or enmurkifying, depending on your perspective — as the first part of the day. It’s all up to Schreiber’s head legal wrangler, Richard Auger.
Will he ask about that heretofore unmentioned meeting between Schreiber and Mulroney in the latter’s office on the Hill, thus relegating any otherwise eyebrow-raising revelations from the morning testimony to the ninth paragraph at best? We’ll soon find out.
You know, I don’t think I’ve been this crazed with livebloggery on a Friday afternoon in months. Thank goodness I have half a Rice Krispie square in my bag in case of an emergency. And a bag of Cadbury mini-eggs in case things get *seriously* dire, but I’m hoping that won’t be necessary.
Auger looks surprisingly calm, although he does have a tendency to adopt the classic defensive crossed-arm pose. I think he may have gotten a haircut for the occasion.
And here we go: Auger tells his witness that he wants to return to Wolson’s “crash course on Bear Head”. Aw, man, is there going to be a test on this? Because I think some of the details from Monday may have been pushed out by subsequent testimony.
He starts out by pointing Schreiber at the letter he wrote to Peter White, which laid out what Thyssen planned to do, as far as marketing vehicles to North American and NATO countries, and a second letter that specifically stated non-NATO countries were *not* part of that strategy.
More about export controls, and COCUM – that may or may not be spelled correctly – which was, according to Schreiber, an international organization that monitored the export of military equipment to communist and non-NATO countries. It was in effect until 1994, and was then replaced with another agreement that didn’t come into effect until 1995 or later.
During his discussions with Mulroney, Schreiber says that there was never any mention made of “exceptions” to the rule, as far as exporting material; Thyssen insisted that all COCUM restrictions be followed.
And now, a much quicker trip down memory lane to Schreiber’s testimony while being questioned by Wolson, on his desire to meet with Mulroney to continue his “dialogue” on Bear Head from the June 3 meeting – a “dialogue” that, as per Auger and confirmed by Scheiber, went on for “many, many months”, at Harrington Lake and even at the Pierre Hotel in New York. Schreiber concurs that they were “constantly in discussion” — right up until the project was dead.
Auger then moves to another binder – I’ve lost track, to be honest, and I don’t have my laptop so I can’t even follow the PDFs – and an affidavit in which Schreiber discussed a capitalized-A “Agreement” – which is never defined or explained in any way, but which Auger suggests was an “evolving work in progress” about everything from Bear Head to organizing funds for Mulroney, and was the same discussion that took place at Mirabel. There was no Agreement – capital A or small a – that “happened magically in one day at Mirabel”, right? Schreiber agrees. No magic.
Did Mulroney, Auger wonders, ever tell Schreiber that they should hold off on any discussions on future employment until after he had left the office of prime minister, or was no longer an MP? No. What about the phrase “cooling off period”? No, according to Schreiber, that didn’t come up.
So basically, this is Auger’s attempt to neutralize Team Mulroney’s claim that the Schreiber affidavit that forms the underpinnings of the inquiry itself – or, at least, the terms of reference. Is it working? Hard to tell. Somehow, I have a horrible feeling it may all land in the lap of a federal judge someday.
For Schreiber, it turns out that “finalizing an agreement” means handing over the money, which is why, Auger suggests, he referred to the Mirabel meeting as such. In his world, it’s just not an agreement without a wad of thousand dollar bills in an envelope, I guess.
Auger then moves to a – is it a deposit slip? A piece of paper serving as such? I didn’t catch the specifics, but anyway, Schreiber was apparently trying to find out how much money was available for the project – BHI, I guess – and the paper in question includes the figuer $500,000. All this happened on July 12, 1993 – between the Harrington Lake and Mirabel meetings, I guess.
Attached to the same affidavit, Auger notes, is a photograph of Brian Mulroney, which Schreiber says he received when he returned to Canada “later in the year” — December 1993, where it was waiting for him in his Ottawa office. According to Schreiber, during the Harrington Lake meeting, Mulroney told him it was a copy of the photo that would eventually appear in the House of Commons, as his official prime ministerial portrait. Wait, doesn’t Mulroney have an official portrait – like, in oil? Maybe they use a photo as a placeholder until there is a painting ready for hanging.
Oh, good, the mandate letter. Haven’t heard about that in – at least a couple of hours. Auger goes through all the occasions on which Mulroney and Schreiber didn’t decide to draft an agreement or contract, and Fred Doucet mysteriously declined to suggest doing so – up until February 4, 2000 – a few months after that fateful fifth estate broadcast, but fully “six or seven years” after what Auger meticulously refers to as “the commencement of the dialogue.”
Did Schreiber know it was Doucet who typed up the document? No, he didn’t. Did any of us? Does it matter? That wasn’t rhetorical; I really don’t know.
Auger then moves to Fred Doucet’s several years retrospective memo to himself on the meeting in New York, particularly the frequent use of the word “international”, which Schreiber concurs he never mentioned during the discussions *he* had with Mulroney.
Oh, and “watching brief”? According to Schreiber, that wasn’t a term that he used at the time, yet it still turned up in the Doucet-typed mandate letter.
Well, the hearing may still be underway and Schreiber is still on the stand, but that hasn’t stopped Team Mulroney has just sent out a press release summing up “A week in the Life of Karlheinz Schreiber”. It’s too long to post the whole thing here – and besides, that’s what newswires are for, right? – but here’s the opening paragraph:
Four days ago Karlheinz Schreiber strode into the Inquiry promising “seven scandals in one.” By the end, he limped off the witness stand, broken by rigorous examination, discredited as a believable witness, his reputation in ruins. His main allegation – that he entered into an agreement with Mr. Mulroney while he was still Prime Minister to lobby
domestically – was destroyed by his own testimony under oath.
Whew! Makes you wonder why we’re still here, doesn’t it?
Speaking of being here, Auger has finally gotten to the delicate matter of the Schreiber handwriting that miraculously – what is the opposite of a miracle, by the way? – appeared on the mandate letter.
The judge jumps in for a moment and wonders how Doucet would have known about one of Schreiber’s German companies – the witness suggests he could have given him a business card. He then tells Schreiber not to attribute “any particular significance” to him asking a question of a particular witness; sometimes he just likes to get stuff straight in his own mind. Amen to that, judge.
Oliphant then offers Schreiber the chance to explain how handwriting that he acknowledges is his got on that mandate letter, and Schreiber, surprisingly, does not put on his best tin foil hat and head off to Conspiracy Town — he just sticks to his claim that he may have written those words at some time, but it wasn’t on that document.
Oh, so *that’s* why Pat MacAdam is on the witness list for next week: he reminisced about the Mulroney/Schreiber relationship on that infamous 1999 fifth estate report on the “mysterious dealmaker”. Anyway, Auger reads from a transcript of MacAdam’s interview, which discusses how Schreiber and Mulroney met before the latter even took over as leader of the opposition, all of which Schreiber confirms.
There is also more Kaplan – subsequent to his first book, just to be clear – which credited Philip Mathias with first “cracking” the story of the $300,000 payment, an article of which Schreiber concedes he was “vaguely” aware; at those times, Auger notes, Schreiber was aware that the story had gone public — it had been on national television that he had met with the former prime minister, and given him cash.
It’s weird to sort of mentally go back to that actually fairly brief period between the settlement of the libel suit, and that first CBC broadcast, when as far as most of the world was concerned, Schreiber was nothing more to Mulroney than an occasional coffee-drinking companion.
Yikes. Someone – I’m not sure if it’s Schreiber, or an errantly turned on mic, but occasionally, the audio fills with the longest, deepest most rumbling sigh I’ve ever heard.
Anyway, the questioning has veered off to what may or may not turn out to be the tangent of the day; Auger reads past comments but Schreiber on other contact between himself and the former prime minister – this was during the Eurocopter trial, for the record – and Bernstein’s failure to follow up on Schreiber’s comment that he had met with Mulroney on several other occasions – in the lobby of the House, in his office — SCREEECH.
Wait — “in his office”? As in, his parliamentary office? Let’s go back to that, shall we?
I swear, if Auger leaves this hanging again, I’ll – I don’t know what I’ll do, but it won’t be pretty.
You’re killing us out here, Auger — somehow, we went from the precipice of an answer to the question that has hung over the inquiry since Schreiber coyly declined to comment on the meeting that may have been, to Schreiber’s past criticism of Kaplan’s journalism, including, he recalls, on the very first page of Presumed Guilty, which Kaplan got “completely wrong” — the anecdote that opened the book, he says, was ten years out of date. Which, in fairness, could be a typo, but I get the gist.
It’s nearly three, so Auger offers to take a break. Schreiber, obviously enjoying himself, wants to plow onwards, but the judge takes pity on the rest of us and gives us a fifteen minute break.
See you in a few.
Okay, first, a confession: I completely forgot to rise when the judge left at the last adjournment. I apologize to all and sundry, and accept my punishment, whatever it may be. (I was lost in liveblogging and didn’t even look up, not that this is an excuse of any kind.)
Auger is back up, by the way, and we’re going through – is this one of Schreiber’s interviews with Kaplan? It’s so hard to keep track sometimes. Anyway, Auger wants to discuss the sentence in which Schreiber described Mulroney as a “value-added representative to support the sale of peacekeeping and environmental protection equipment out of Canada”.
It’s a frustratingly ambiguous statement – which isn’t the writer’s fault; how was he to know it would eventually end up as the object of cross examination at a judicial inquiry? When questioned about the sentence yesterday, Schreiber confirmed that it was true, and does so again, only in his mind, it meant selling vehicles in Canada — not, for example, to China.
Now he’s just teasing us: Auger brings up the absence of any meetings between Mulroney and Schreiber between 1994 and 2000, but during which time the former prime minister made frequent calls to Schreiber’s secretary, Mrs. Kupp, who worked in Germany, and who worked closely with Mulroney and his lawyers on the original letter to the Swiss authorities. How often, exactly? It was “very intensive” at the time of the Swiss request — “many, many times”, although Schreiber declines to say whether that meant daily, weekly or any other specific measure of time.
She’d be an interesting witness, wouldn’t she?
Anyway, Auger points out that there was a “gap” in correspondence of the written variety throughout that period, and Schreiber notes that there was “no reason” to be sending letters around.
Back to the Mirabel meeting, during which Schreiber did *not* rent a suite at the hotel — he was a Lufthansa VIP at the time, which meant he got a limo to and from the airport to Ottawa, which is a pretty nice perk when you think about it. I wonder if they served a roadside salmon lunch as well? Anyway, he met with Mulroney at *his* – Mulroney’s – hotel room, and flew back to Germany the same night.
Liberal minister alert! A letter from then-Transport Minister David Collenette, circa 1995, which discussed the still technically extant Bear Head project, which arrived shortly before the GM contract was announced, thereby heralding the death of the dream. Okay, that could have been a more interesting segue into Liberaldom, but this isn’t my cross; I’m just the liveblogger.
More about the white paper – *that* white paper, I guess; the one that may or may not have been the major item on the agenda at the New York meeting, which was sent to Mulroney’s secretary. I guess he didn’t have to get his copy from Fred Doucet, and – yeah, that seems to be the point of this sub-sub-tangent.
Oliphant wonders why it matters why Schreiber thinks Doucet sent the fax to Mulroney when Doucet himself will be here to testify, and Auger sort of grudgingly agrees; he, I’m sure, would rather establish Doucet’s motives using Schreiber’s testimony, but he moves on — onto the Alberta lawsuit. Did he ever try to use the Alberta lawsuit to “generate interest” in a public inquiry? Schreiber can’t recall, but he notes that he had already made up his mind that an inquiry was needed, and describes some of his efforts to bring it to fruition, including a vote at committee in support of such an initiative, which the Tories, he recalls, lost by one vote. That would be the standard breakdown of opposition vs. goverment at your typical 2006 era minority committee, yes.
Auger gives Schreiber the opportunity to explain that puzzling AIL reference in the Bear Head incorporation documents, which he — sort of does, but really doesn’t, and eventually suggests that Greg Alford can probably clear it up.
And – wait, that’s it? Well, that’s just great. Is nobody ever going to ask about this mystery meeting? Because that seems like a rather vast and yawning oversight to ITQ.
But that *is* it – at least as far as Auger is concerned; Pratte leaps up to try to clarify what Mulroney meant in the affidavit cited by Auger during his questions, and — well, I guess he sort of got his point across.
Wolson notes that normally, he would have the right to re-examine Schreiber at this point, but since he’s coming back in May, he’ll hold back until then.
Ooh! Cabinet confidence documents! Fresh off the truck of secrecy! Also, a report from Navigant — not sure what that is, but apparently Auger will have to review both that and the cabinet goodies, and discuss them with his client. Oliphant concurs, noting that Auger knows “the limits and boundaries” of what he can and can’t talk about with his client before his next appearance, and as such, can be permitted to speak with him.
And — that’s it until Monday morning. Unfortunately, ITQ won’t be able to liveblog every single day next week, although she’ll be paying close attention to each and every witness, never fear. She’ll keep you posted — but for now, have a great weekend, everyone!