So — wow. This is it — the moment — or four days’ worth of moments — that we’ve all been so eagerly anticipating, and please don’t hold it against the momentousness of this occasion that I’m pretty sure I’ve said that about nearly every witness so far. What can I say — My name is ITQ, and I’m an inquiroholic.
Anyway, as I’m sure I don’t have to remind y’all, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney will take the stand a little later this morning, and really, I’m not sure how much background context is required to appreciate what’s at stake. I’m hoping to be on the scene at Old City Hall by 8am — can’t let one of those Oliphant-come-lately reporters snag the last seat, after all — and the show is slated to get underway at 9:30 am.
In the meantime, if you want to refresh your memory about the last few weeks of testimony, or if you’re a newcomer to ITQ, feel free to check out the complete collection of ITQ livebloggings to date.
Ladies and gentleman of the Oliphantiac Brigade, I can report that the inquiry has, indeed, arrived: no less an august personage than Don Newman has joined our number, thus officially designating this event as The Centre Ring of the Political Circus Maximus. Take that, Citizenship and Immigration committee!
Wait, I take that back. I love you, parliamentary committees. I promise I’ll be back soon, and I’ll never leave you again. Well, not until the Royal Commission on Where All That Infrastructure Money Went, of course. Kidding! Kidding! (I hope.)
Anyway, as I’m sure you can imagine, but will tell you anyway because — hey, what is a liveblogger good for? (Note: Don’t answer that.) — our little slice of heaven that is Old City Hall has been invaded by hordes of journalistic carpetbaggers — otherwise known as our beloved Hill colleagues — who are even now spilling over the border of the suddenly markedly expanded section of turf reserved for us media types. Those of us who have been here all along, however, arrived to find that the perenially thoughtful Oliphant communications team had prepared “Reserved Media” placards to protect our spots. Really, how can you not love that?
Anyway, the Man of the Hour is apparently even now enroute to destiny — that would be us, or at least, the judge — but will probably disappear into the bowels of Old City Hall before making his grand entrance shortly before 9:30.
He’s here! No bells in sight, but perhaps that’s a colloquial Baie Comeau expression for “an entire fleet of lawyers and PR advisors who will flank me like a retinue of devoted courtiers, which, come to think of it, is exactly what they are”. He walked the entire length of the Grand Hallway, but just as he was within shouting distance of the phalanx of wildly whirling and snapping cameras, he — and Team Mulroney – veered into the holding room.
So — if my timestamp is accurate, the Citizenship committee should be just getting started. Luckily, Colleague Wherry is on the scene, which means I’ll be able to catch up on all the highlights later today. Meanwhile, it’s hard to describe how very *different* it feels in the inquiry room today — not only are there a lot more people — including Fred Doucet, and Karlheinz Schreiber, of course, who has now moved one row down and is sitting alongside Richard Auger, like a rakish uncle turned paralegal. Auger, incidentally, looks entirely calm — he always does, really. I’m not sure if, as a client, that would soothe me or send me into more of a tizzy, but I guess that’s better than pacing frantically.
Over on the Commission Counsel front, Richard Wolson is his typically regal self — he really is more lion than wolf — while Roitenbeg keeps wandering over to the other side of the aisle, where Team Mulroney is preparing to begin the show.
The room has fallen silent — I guess that the lawyers have got better intel than us reporters as to exactly when the judge will materialize — although we’re getting dispatches on Ruby Tuesday from our more connected colleagues. Oh, this is so exciting.
The former PM has taken the stand — he looks reasonably calm, considering what he’s about to endure, although I’m not sure if I share the characterization given by one of my colleagues earlier this morning after his initial stroll past the scrums: He’s not so much “sphinx-like” as “Persian cat-who-may-or-may-not-have-swallowed-the canary.”
And – it’s showtime. Really, this time. Before Mulroney is sworn in, however, Wolson would like to say a few things about what’s going to happen today; he starts out with a fairly extensive explanation of exactly how the whole being-questioned-by-his-own-lawyer things works.
Oh, and that “formal opening statement”? Was never offered. Huh. Guess Team Mulroney may have … misunderstood some aspect of the negotiations.
Oh, and Oliphant would like to add that, had any other party made a similar request to conduct the main examination, he would have considered it — this is not, he’d just like to state for the record, special treatment.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel better now. Also, like a little bit of a troublemaker – or troublemaker-aider-and-abettor, at the very least.
And – yes, Mulroney has been sworn in. On the Bible, I believe, although I’m not absolutely sure; he wasn’t asked for his preference, so I suspect it was decided — and notice given to the judge — before the hearing began.
After the usual binder shuffle, the main examination gets underway with — well, huh. This is an interesting tactic. The very first question put to Mulroney by his counsel — just who *is* Karlheinz Schreiber to him? Which gives the former PM the opening to deliver a less than flattering account of how the Schreiber he first knew — the well-to-do, seemingly respectable German businessman — revealed himself to be the Schreiber he now realizes to be the real man: a German fugitive, fleeing justice. Although he does nod to the mea culpa of December 2007 — the awfulness of Schreiber doesn’t entirely justify his action — he insists that he did nothing wrong.
Oh, and now it’s starting to sound even more familiar — asked another not-leading-if-the-judge-doesn’t-intervene-I-guess question that produces the expected bitter diatribe about the Airbus allegations, the perfidies of the media, especially “secret police informant” Stevie Cameron, and – you know what? We’ve heard this before. I’ve *liveblogged* this before. Everything he did was to protect his family, his father’s good name and his reputation from the damage caused by those hateful fourth and fifth estateholders. He had every right to privacy — even when it came to a commercial transaction during his post-public life.
So, did Team Mulroney honestly misinterpret some aspect of the pre-hearing negotiations with the commission into an offer to make an opening statement? Or was that just — not true? Come to think of it, this sounds suspiciously like an opening statement itself.
“It’s not paranoia,” Mulroney insists, and then goes onto excoriate “several media outlets” for “distorting” last week’s testimony by the forensic auditors. Wow, he’s feisty. Or testy.
A brief trip down Mulroney childhood memory lane — entirely in French thus far, which is different from the last response, during which he switched back and forth. As Guy Pratte pointed out, he has, in fact, published his memoirs, so really, I don’t want to discourage any readers from running out there and buying their very own copy, so I’ll not bother with the details — eventually, he gets to school, where he gravitates to the Progressive Conservatives, rather than the more usual-for-an-Irish-Catholic-Quebecker Liberals, because, as he explains, there were less people involved; he was actually recruited by Lowell Murray, and that’s how he met the Doucet brothers.
Pratte notes that his wife told him not to ask this, but — who was the dean of law at Laval when Mulroney arrived? Why, a professor — Pratte, as it happens. “Your father,” Mulroney clarifies, in case we missed it. Soon, he was recruited to Ogilvie Renault, which was the greatest law firm in the country, and — okay, really? Must we do the entire glowing, soft focus biography? The whole “So, what brings you here?” line of questioning didn’t take more than a few minutes for previous witnesses.
Oh, finally, they’ve gotten to his first leadership race. At this rate, we’ll only just have made it to the Harrington Lake meeting by midday Thursday.
So, he lost his first attempt at seizing the leadership — but gets off a calculatingly self-deprecating line, noting that he realized the one quality required to seek such a position in a large party was a remarkable capacity for self delusion. He heads back to Iron Ore Canada, which he – by the by – completely turned around, as far as stopping “work stoppages” and making money, and added more children to the family — Caroline and Ben and — Marco? Wait, who is/was Marco? Anyway, there was trouble in them thar hills — Shefferville, to be precise — and — wait, what does any of this have to do with the terms of reference? Pratte even seems to be aware that this is turning into a much less sordid than the McInery original remake of Story of My Life, and smilingly reminds Mulroney that if he gives too much away, “we won’t have to buy your book.”
Oh, finally: a Schreiber cameo, or cameo-by-non-appearance. Does Mulroney recall meeting Schreiber during the leadership review? No, he has no recollection — although he does have fond memories, it seems, of the Ritz Carleton in Montreal.
For the first time yet this morning, Oliphant intervenes to clarify one of Pratte’s questions – when he asks (and Mulroney answers in the negative) whether Schreiber donated to his leadership campaign, the judge wants to know if he means the review, or his subsequent campaign to replace Joe Clark. This leads to a fabulously tangential attempt by Mulroney to debunk an “old canard” about drunken Quebeckers somehow swinging the vote against Clark, and forcing his resignation, despite the fact that – as Mulroney notes, and entirely irrelevently to the actual substance of the inquiry, but why let that stop a good story, right? – Clark actually managed to wrangle over 60% support, and was safe, but decided to resign anyway. “You couldn’t have gotten me out of there with a crowbar,” he tells the room, prompting light chuckles from his section of the spectator gallery.
Oh, and Frank Moores? He supported John Crosbie.
I never thought I’d say this before, but — finally, we’ve made it to the binders. No more stories of false Tory leadership conspiracy theories past, I hope. Anyway, Mulroney is confronted with one of the earliest samplings in the voluminous collection of Schreiber-Mulroney correspondence — a telegram from the latter congratulating the former on becoming a Canadian citizen — and, while the former PM doesn’t actually remember sending it, he doesn’t dispute the authenticity, but notes that he would likely have done so on the advice of Bob Coates or Fred Doucet — to be polite.
Anyway, Mulroney is leader of the opposition by this point – yes, I know, how time does fly – but needs a seat in the House, and Elmer MacKay obliges, resigning his entirely safe PC seat to allow Mulroney to run in his place, which he does, with just one line in his platform: Jobs, jobs, jobs! It was “absolutely key” that he make it into the Commons, Mulroney notes, given the habitually “generous and forgiving nature” of the Progressive Conservative Party, and hey – was that a shot at the current iteration of the party he once led? “You can’t govern without winning seats in Quebec,” he notes, seemingly out of nowhere-ish. “And if you can, you shouldn’t.”
Oh, and Mulroney didn’t, and doesn’t know either Strauss, pere or fils, although he doesn’t contradict Pat MacAdam’s recollection of a ninety second “meet and greet’ in his office.
And now, Prime Minister-Being 101, with Professor Brian Mulroney. First and foremost, work *with* your cabinet ministers, but give them the freedom to manage their respective files — wait, is that *another* shot at the current occupant of 24 Sussex? As for the civil service, deputies — and even ministers — are moved on the advice of the Privy Council to serve “the changing needs of the government”.
Another Mulroney memory: the design of the then-still-a-gleam-in-the-eye new Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC; it was Trudeau, he recalls, whose government chose the architect, but Mulroney who went ahead with the project. Anyway, somehow Bob Fowler shows up in mid-anecdote – at that point, a senior Foreign Affairs advisor to Trudeau – ends up giving Mulroney and Trudeau a tour of all the maquettes for the new embassy. Trudeau looks around, and says to Fowler, where’s Bob’s entry? I’m sorry, Fowler says, but Bob – Erickson, a good friend of Trudeau – didn’t make the cut. “That’s too bad,” Trudeau mused. “He just won.”
Great story. Could’ve used a vampire. Or – hey, how about even a tenuous connection to the topic at hand?
I have to say I’m kind of shocked that none of the lawyers — or even the judge — are grumbling over the open-endedness of the questions that Pratte is tossing gently at his client. I guess they figure that this is his show — and really, it is, at least this morning — and kicking up a fuss will at best waste more time, and at worst, result in a trip to federal court and a challenge to the mandate and conduct of the inquiry itself.
Also, Clyde Wells? Unity saboteur. Never forget. Yes, we’ve hit Meech, and Mulroney, it seems, still has fairly strong feelings about just who was to blame for that little misadventure in constitutional reform.
Pratte — who is now dropping the words “very briefly” into nearly every question he poses to his client, apparently out of a vain hope that he might pick up on the hint — wonders if Mulroney can tell the inquiry how correspondence to PMO was handled during his tenure; the former explains how the files were sorted — public/business, political and “Aunt Jenny” — and put into folders for the PM to bring home.
After another tangent down How My Client Scarcely Knew Karlheinz Schreiber From a Hole In The Ground Lane, Pratte now moves onto how *replies* from the PM are handled — there are drafts prepared, that sort of thing — which elicits from Mulroney the suggestion that at least one of the replies so treasured by his former business associate was signed by the autopen.
The two then read through another letter from Schreiber, which includes a sort-of invitation to Mulroney and Mila – who is here, of course, as is Caroline, but Ben is conspicuously absent – to experience traditional Bavarian hospitality — which, incidentally, I just mistyped as “hostility”, talk about a Freudian typo. Mulroney notes that this particular Schreibergram arrived just after he had announced his resignation, and the bulk of the reply was probably written by someone else, although he did add a short personal note.
Also, writing “For Your Eyes Only” on mail to a PM does not, in fact, guarantee that it will actually make it to his desk. I know. I’m shocked too.
Okay, score one for Mulroney, who notes that, when it comes to the Langevin switchboard, he’s not sure if it still operates in the same way as it did during his day, as he hasn’t been getting many calls from the current prime minister these days. This prompts giggles even from the media tables, and shortly after, we break for the morning recess.
See you back here in fifteen minutes.
You know, it occurs to me that I’m far luckier than the other journalists here, because I don’t actually *need* Mulroney to Make News — or really, even Stay Remotely On Topic — for liveblogging purposes.
Right now, I am mere inches from the Don Newman Standup Tile. He’s just signed off for the break — I’m not sure for how long. We’re also trying desperately to get updates on the *other* spectacle ongoing, which sounds like it’s descending into tales of vitriol-hurling abuse that would make Mommy Dearest look like Mother Abigail, which — well, I’ll wait to see the reply — and read the Wherry report — before I make up my mind.
We’re back — and, wonder of wonders, we appear to finally be wending our way to the Bear Head project, which – according to Mulroney, he first became aware of in 1986 or 1987, from Sinclair Stevens, as a potential development interest in Nova Scotia. He isn’t sure, but believes that “Elmer” and Bob Coates were also involved in bringing it to his attention, and recalls that it was presented more as a concept — and he was “very favourably disposed to the concept”. When you’re the prime minister, and have regions with perenially high unemployment, and someone comes in with promises of a plant that could create hundreds of new jobs – well, “you can bet your bottom dollar” that he, or any other prime minister, would be interested. Unfortunately, as he goes onto explain, there were those who weren’t as enthusiastic about the initiative, partly because its success hinged on exporting military products to countries like Saudi Arabia, which may have violated certain controls.
Pratte moves on to a – or perhaps *the* – Tellier memo; unfortunately, he doesn’t identify it by date, so we’re not sure, but Mulroney does take time to praise Tellier as one of the greatest public servants in the country’s history, who he promoted to Clerk.
Pratte points to a note on the Tellier memo — penned by Mulroney himself — an NB to pay “particular attention” to the line that recommends against the Thyssen proposal.
Hey! Nazis! Mulroney brings up the whole selling-tanks-to-the-Saudi argument against Thyssen, which was first brought to cabinet – and the PM himself – by Joe Clark. They – he and Clark – had a chat, and – after Oliphant intervenes to give him the chance to finish his answer – Mulroney compares the conflict between foreign policy and development – Thyssen, the Nazi connection and Bear Head – with that between the environment and the economy, whereupon Mulroney made it clear that Canada would not ship *anything* to the Middle East that would put Israel at a disadvantage.
Was this resolved, Pratte asks – after all, the proposal did resurface. Mulroney notes that all those developments will come out soon, but that there were “no circumstances” that he would allow Israel to be disadvantaged.
You know, I think I’m going to go ahead and give Mulroney today’s ITQ TieWatch Award, mostly because its near luminescent blue goes so nicely with his rosy cheeks and snowy hair.
Oh, fine, back to the testimony, and the memo from Tellier in which he told Mulroney’s then chief of staff, Bernard Roy, about the concerns over the Thyssen proposal. Mulroney recalls telling all and sundry to “get their ducks in a row” on Bear Head.
What about Lowell Murray, Pratte wonders. As of 1987, what role did he play, as far as Bear Head? Mulroney recalls that Murray – who was appointed to the Senate in 1979 – handled first federal-provincial relations, and then also ACOA for his government.
By the way, remember the smiling German political attaches? They’re back! But guess who slipped out earlier this morning? That’s right, for the first time I can remember since the public hearings began, Schreiber’s usual seat is empty.
Mulroney gets more chuckles when he describes Tellier’s feelings towards the project — his enthusiasm, he recalls, was firmly under control. He was speaking for PCO, but more specifically, for Defence, the former notes.
An Oliphant Moment: The judge gets Mulroney to confirm that the fact that the names of particular officials appear on a memo from Tellier means that they likely played a role in drafting the document.
Well, that was odd: as an example of how sometimes bad policy can be good politics, and public servants don’t always know best, Mulroney uses Stephen Harper’s campaign promise to slash the GST by 2%, and – it almost sounds like he’s praising the current PM for sticking to his guns, although he notes that not an economist in the country — well, other than the aforementioned prime minister — would support it. I — just don’t know what to make of that, really. A peace offering? He does get laughs, however, when Pratte tells him that he “won’t ask who the father of the GST” might have been. “It was Michael Wilson’s idea,” Mulroney shoots back.
More letters – this one from Lowell Murray, I think, but am not sure, that it’s his most impassioned pro-Bear Head missive. Mulroney doesn’t recall reading it at the time, and the discussion then moves to his discussion with Lowell Murray, and what he wanted him to do, which involved Frank Iacabucci — who you might remember from yet *other* inquiry. He wanted “Frank himself” to draft the clause in the Understanding in Principle to make sure that the government was not contractually bound to do *anything* – and “it was done”, he recalls.
My goodness, did Pratte just refer to evidence heard by the commission? I’d forgotten that’s why we were here! Anyway, he notes that the commission has heard evidence that the UiP triggered payments to various GCI associates, and Mulroney denies having any knowledge of such transactions — until the documents were filed before the parliamentary committee last year, he had no idea.
Huh. Fred Doucet – who was sitting in the spectator’s gallery last time I glanced over – seems to have left as well. A lot of that going on today.
On to Frank Moores, with whom – it transpires – Mulroney had no relationship at all in 1987 after he gave an interview in which he predicted that Mulroney would be defeated in the next election. “When I saw that statement, that was the end of the relationship,” he says – not until the “end of his life” was it restored, when he became ill, and Mulroney intervened to help him out.
Oh, and now we’re suddenly plunged into Swiss bank accounts – Frankfurt, to be precise – and Schreiber’s allegations before the Ethics committee that there was money “set aside” for him, which Mulroney dismisses, with impressive calm, as “preposterous”. He then savages “Chairman Szabo” — and reminds us all that William Kaplan described the entire Ethics debacle as — damn, I missed the specifics there, I was too transfixed by the sudden spitting of venom from the previously preternaturally serene witness, but I’m sure it was very, very unflattering – and the PM himself called a “kangaroo court”.
Okay, Pratte really needs to rein in his client’s unquenchable, deep and abiding appreciation for his achievements as prime minister. It comes across as just a wee bit arrogant, particularly when he’s dropping the names of world leaders and lauding Canada’s success in organizing summits, which was in response to a fairly succinct question on his decision to appoint Fred Doucet as Ambassador at Large for Summits.
Mulroney notes that Doucet left PMO in late 1986, and stayed until 1988, when he resigned – he had “massive cardiac problems” and a “number of children” — what number? Wouldn’t his old friend know the exact tally? — at which point he decided to “pack it in”.
This brings us to that odd little plotloop involving the waiver from the post-employment cooling off period – the Kingsley letter. Oh, boy. Mulroney obligingly recalls that, at the time, Kingsley may have been the assistant registrar, but he’s not sure under what capacity he was acting when he signed off on that particular letter. He knew nothing about that waiver, he tells the court – not at the time, and not until it came up at this very commission. Didn’t he wonder why Doucet appeared to be lobbying while still theoretically under the one year ban? I guess we’ll find out after lunch, because according to Pratte, this is a perfect time to adjourn. ITQ’s blood sugar level concurs, so I’ll be back after the break. See you then!
Well, we’re not officially back in session, but the witness has returned to his spot — he’s standing behind the chair, looking like he wants very much to be described as “regal” and “cool under pressure”. Occasionally, he saunters off the platform to shake hands with a well-wisher — there’s a huge contingent here from SFX, apparently; way to not look like an old boys’ cabal, guys — but mostly, he just — poses.
Meanwhile, Schreiber is still MIA — the Germans, interestingly, appear to still be in attendance, but perhaps they’re doing ad hoc media relations for the German press, who have also turned up in drovettes. Fred Doucet, however, is back in his seat.
All rise! Be seated.
Before Pratte returns to the Bear Head matter, he has a quick question for Mulroney on another oft-repeated rumour: Did he ever discuss with Frank Moores the possibility of joining GCI after leaving office? No, but really, what an aspiration, Mulroney barely conceals his contempt for the very idea. To go from being prime minister to working as a lobbyist for Frank Moores –“Boy, I really missed out,” he muses, sneeringly, before lashing out at the media – of course – for “impregnating” the political culture in this country with vile rumour and innuendo and — wow. That isn’t really the most charitable comment to make, when you consider how many of his ostensibly dear friends were involved with GCI. Also, didn’t he go from being prime minister to a lobbyist working for Karlheinz Schreiber? At least, according to his version of events?
Onto Norm Spector, who, Mulroney recalled, he appointed as chief of staff, and later named – “at his request” – Ambassador to Israel, and he hopes we saw “the gratitude on his face.” Is this Mulroney feeling confident? Because – honestly? He’s not really coming across as terribly pleasant.
Anyway, he discusses that famous car ride with Spector, in which he – interestingly, and grammatically contradictorily – recalls saying to Spector that the project “is dead”. Spector knew what to do, he says – and no, he didn’t call Schreiber to let him know; the prime minister ‘doesn’t go around calling lobbyists’.
But the project, Pratte notes, didn’t die.
Mulroney now claims, by the way, that he never consented to a meeting with Schreiber – he agreed to meet with Elmer MacKay – for whom he was still so grateful for giving up his seat – or Fred Doucet, who “was a friend of mine for fifty years”. Schreiber had no access to the prime minister; he had access to MacKay, and ‘his lobbyist’ Fred Doucet.
Oh, and he killed Bear Head, oh yes, he did.
The one thing Mulroney could give people like Elmer, he says, was “access”, which seems like an odd word to use. By that, he means, he could get the Bear Head backers a meeting with Tellier – that famous meeting where Doucet and Schreiber were “escorted out”? It’s not clear.
He then repeats the line about the scourge of Ottawa being those people who ran amok saying that the prime minister wants this, or PMO wants that. He instructed his ministers that if anyone said that, he wanted them to throw that person out of their office, and then call and let him know.
Hey, there was an Auditor General report today? Really? Anything good?
Okay, now we’re back to the Schreiberbinder, and a 1992 letter from Schreiber to – Mulroney or Marcel Masse, or both – it’s not clear. Oh, it was a letter to Mulroney with a letter to Masse attached, in which Schreiber told him that he had a “very encouraging meeting” with Quebec, including “four army generals”. According to Mulroney, he never encouraged Schreiber to continue his efforts to move the project to Quebec, nor did he discuss Bear Head with then-Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.
Mulroney then interrupts Pratte to note that the letter to Tellier from Schreiber demonstrates “the difficulty” in dealing with the irascible German-Canadian, which is littered with notes reading “inaccurate” and “I never said that”. He – Mulroney – gave Schreiber access to “Canada’s number one public servant”, and then had the “temerity” to send a subsequent summary letter filled with inaccuracies. Did Mulroney know that at the time, Pratte wonders? He was learning, the witness replies, “but not to that extent.”
Ooh, the June 3 meeting – which was recorded in photographs – at which Mulroney vehemently denies having discussed any sort of business relationship, future or otherwise, with Schreiber, and which he basically downplays as just another prime ministerial meet and greet.
Pratte directs him to the entry from Schreiber’s datebook, and specifically, the notation “Brian Max 2316”, of which Mulroney claims to have no recollection, nor does it trigger any memory of the discussions that they had at the June 3 meeting.
Ooh, a lightning round: Did Mulroney ever pressure Tellier, Murray, McKnight, Campbell. Spector, or anyone else to approve the Bear Head project? No, no, no, and no.
Soon after that June 3 meeting, Mulroney and family decamped to Harrington Lake – just after the leadership race, which meant turning the keys over to Kim Campbell – and met with Schreiber on June 23, a get-together that ‘would have to have been arranged’ by Doucet or MacKay. The request was for a “courtesy call” – a goodbye from Schreiber; there were “lots of people” coming by to say adieu, he notes. To Harrington Lake? Really? That doesn’t sound – quite right, somehow.
A bit of lighthearted venom directed at the fifth estate for describing Schreiber’s arrival at Harrington Lake “in a big black limo”; imagine Mulroney’s surprise when he discovered that it was actually Paul Smith’s second-hand jeep.
The visit itself, Mulroney recalls, was probably twenty minutes to a half hour, and they discussed politics — “with my usual unerring accuracy,” he notes, “I projected a majority government for Kim Campbell — and Schreiber then brought up a favourite topic of his – although how would Mulroney know that, since according to his story, he barely knew the man at all? – anyway, German reunification, for which both Schreiber and Mulroney were/are only too pleased to give the latter at least some of the credit.
Did the two men reach an agreement to work together in the future? “Absolutely not” – and the same goes for Schreiber telling him he needed to check if there was “some money” in a particular account.
Mulroney reads the inscription on the official photograph that Schreiber requested, and he delivered; it was just another handwritten note, he says — he signed thousands of photos, and sent out hundreds of handwritten notes. It was all part of keeping the caucus together.
Moving on to his post-prime ministerial time in the House, he notes that he did remain an MP until the fall – he had advised Kim Campbell that she should call the House back and deliver an economic statement, but she didn’t take his suggestion: instead, her numbers having gone up, she “pulled the plug” just after Labour Day. He didn’t do anything really to maintain his parliamentary career — he was just staying on as a courtesy to the new leader.
At that point, Pratte notes, he had to consider what he would do next, and Mulroney discusses some of the offers he got – Archer Daniels Midland, Barrick Gold, other corporate heavyweights – as well as one from his old law firm, Ogilvie Renault. He was “pretty confident” that he’d be fine – he had “less money going out than coming in”. Oliphant wonders what he meant by that, and Mulroney explains that he was the first PM ever to take a pay cut when he got the job, not to mention pay for his own food, so he had a “pretty good deal”.
Pratte notes that this may be a delicate issue, but that Schreiber has contended that Mulroney was “desparate for money” at the time that he accepted the cash-stuffed envelope at Mirabel. This triggers another trip down Mulroney Knew The Value of a Dollar, His Dad Worked Two Jobs and His Mom Took In Boarders Memory Lane, but – doesn’t actually answer the question, although presumably, he means that as a “no”.
More about the Gilded Post-Prime Ministerial Life of Brian Mulroney, and his launch into the speaking business — he was making $40-45,000 a pop, and besides, Mila made him to do it when she heard the fees – and then we’re off for our afternoon break. See you back here in ten!
So – wow, today is just zooming by, isn’t it? Anyway, a few minutes left before we resume for the last bit of testimony for the day, and consensus is that Pratte will likely go for at least another few hours, which means the first opportunity at cross-examination won’t be until tomorrow afternoon. I think it’s safe to say that most of us media types will stick around til then.
You know what’s interesting? Mulroney definitely seems to be feeling more confident — actually, more than confident; borderline gloatingly triumphant — this afternoon, for no particular reason that I can see, but it mirrors exactly how his demeanour changed over the course of the four hours that he was before the Ethics committee. He went from dignified yet penitent – and as close to humble as he can manage – to what can only be described as “chippy” by the last few rounds of questions. We’re seeing much the same transition here. I have no idea what that means, except if I was prepping him for this sort of hearing, I’d make sure he wasn’t going to try to get the best of, say, Wolson, because it wouldn’t likely go well.
And – back again, and discussing his post-PM employment with Ogilvie Renault, which had a clause exempting his income earned through speaking engagements — from which, as we now know, he made a handsome sum. Anyway, Pratte has Mulroney flip to another exhibit, which is related to a numbered company that he asked his “friend and literary executor” to set up to handle the “exception” with the firm. No numbers given, so I’m not sure what that means, but I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.
Fast forward to the fall of 1993, when he and Mila and the kids moved back to Quebec; being a “workhorse”, he wanted to get started at Ogilvie Renault right away, but they didn’t even have an office for him at the time. Still, he would head down every now and then to re-learn the ropes; meanwhile, the family stuck around a resort town just north of Montreal.
Finally – *finally* – we get to that infamous Mirabel meeting, which, as far as Mulroney can recall, was arranged by Fred Doucet, and had something to do with an “international mandate” related to one or the other or a few of Schreiber’s companies, which “sounded okay to him”. Doucet arranged for the two to meet at the hotel near Mirabel, and eventually, they did — the former PM escorted by an RCMP duty guard.
Whereupon, Mulroney recalls, Schreiber announced his plan to sue “my government” — which wasn’t his anymore, and soon wouldn’t even be his party’s – and handed him a copy of the cause of action. Mulroney told him to “go ahead and file it” if he thought he had a cause of action, and Schreiber then began talking about the Thyssen vehicles, and the prospect of Mulroney being on “an international business track” for peacekeeping — a “watching brief”‘, really. Mulroney, it seems, thought in exactly the terms that would later appear in the retroactive mandate later, but which really don’t have the ring of the Schreiberian vernacular.
Mulroney then goes through the brochures that Schreiber presented him with — basically, military equipment festooned with UN logos. Clearly, Schreiber was asking him to market the vehicles internationally — I mean, they had the UN logo all over them! “What did he think I was going to do,” Mulroney wonders. Take them up to Baie Comeau?
Oliphant doesn’t seem to know quite what to make of the documents he’s been handed – he describes them as “two brochures” with drawings of the vehicles, some of which have the logo, but not all. The third document is six pages dealing with the Thyssen project in Canada, and finally, there’s the statement of claim.
Pratte and Mulroney spend a bit more time on the brochures, and Pratte then notices the same thing I did – or articulates, really – the use of the word “watching brief”. Did Schreiber use that term? No, that’s what Mulroney assumed he meant – monitor the situation, and do what he could to help the company. There was nothing, Mulroney says, about a Canadian aspect to the hearings — he didn’t find out until these hearings that Schreiber had met with Corbeil and Charest the day before. “He never mentioned it to me.”
Bored now. Let’s get to the envelope stuffed with cash.
Mulroney points out that Schreiber *never* asked him to do anything domestically — and seems to think it “preposterous” that he would agree, not 48 hours after leaving office, to violate the very conflict of interest laws that he brought in as prime minister. “This is pretty extraordinary stuff,” he huffs – this latest version, that is.
Oh, here we go. Did anything else happen at the meeting? Why, yes — as Mulroney was looking at the documents, Schreiber asked if he could help him out; Mulroney said he thought he could, and Schreiber got up, went to the sofa, opened his briefcase and brought out a manila envelope, which he said was “the first retainer.” Did he open it? No — but he knew it wasn’t a cheque from the “dimensions” of the package. When Mulroney hesitated – or in his words, demonstrated hesitation through his body language – Schreiber told him he was an “international businessman” who dealt in cash.
Ah, the minimea culpa: Mulroney notes that what he *should* have done at this point was to ask for a cheque, but he didn’t. It was unwise, but not criminal, and – I guess that’s that.
Did he accept this envelope full of cash for past services with relation to Airbus, Eurocopter, Bear Head or anything else? No, no and no.
At that point, he left the hotel, the RCMP drove him back to the cottage; he opened the envelope and counted the money – $75,000 – and put it in the safe. He never put it in the bank, or advise his accountant that he had received it.
Pratte somewhat awkwardly tries to move on from that unfortunate – but entirely legal – bit of business, and gives Mulroney an opening to discuss his relationship – official and otherwise – with the United Nations, starting with the appointment of Stephen Lewis and the hostility of Senator Jesse Helms – and the United States – to the UN.
You know what? I kind of drifted off there for a bit, but I’m betting he gave a brilliant summary of his many achievements related to the United Nations.
On to peacekeeping; specifically, Mulroney’s efforts to preserve the Pearsonian principle on peacekeeping, and try to say that seven times fast. Mulroney did his best, as did Joe Clark, who is getting a lot of love from the witness when his name comes up, by the way. He’d be an interesting witness, wouldn’t he? I mean, he *was* Foreign Affairs minister during some of the Bear Head hubub, right? Does hubub have two bs, or three? It looks wrong either way.
Okay, now the Security Council, and the five permanent members – the P5 – and the relationships that Mulroney developed with the leaders of those countries. Before Mulroney can do so, Oliphant wants to make sure he’s correct that any one of the five can veto a resolution — it doesn’t require a majority. He is. This sparks a brief history of the conflict in Yugoslavia – I’ll spare you, or, more accurately, myself, since it really isn’t *terribly* relevant, except in that it allows Mulroney to remind us all that he got Canada elected to the Security Council — does that mean he presided over whatever it is to which Canada is now “back”?
Noting that he seemed somewhat unmoved by the prospect of working for GCI, Pratte wonders if he ever considered working for the United Nations, and – oh, it turns out that George Bush — the first one — once approached him to become Secretary General of the United Nations after he left office. No guarantees, of course, but the US wanted him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work — so he was left with nothing but the chance to work as a lobbyist for Frank Moores.
Anyway, with that, Guy Pratte notes that he’s about to move to a new area, and confesses to a bit of fatigue, and Wolson concurs, prompting Oliphant to assure them both that he’s willing to break for the day — “You don’t have to gang up on me!” He jokes, as he brings down the gavel on the first day of the Mulroneython.
We’re adjourned! Wow, that was — quite a day, huh? I’ve got to process, but if I’m not back later tonight, check back tomorrow, bright and early, for the second act.