Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Smell Test

As Geoffrey Stevens pointed out in a column today, what UW President David Johnston needs to do in framing the terms of reference for an inquiry into the Schreiber/Mulroney affair is to "draft a mandate that will pass the 'smell test' among the members of the public." What we the public need is a complete understanding of the relationship between Schreiber and Mulroney, including a complete airing of the 1988 Airbus bribery scandal. It's about time.

We need a complete airing because the whole buried scandal stinks to high heaven. Brian Mulroney has described his relationship with Schreiber as extremely casual - he says they only met for coffee a couple of times. But it seems that that is a total lie. We know that:

* In 1976, Schreiber contributed at least $25,000 to Mulroney's leadership bid of the Progressive Conservative party.

* In 1983, Schreiber was active in deposing Joe Clark so that Mulroney could take over as leader (among other things, he paid for jets to fly anti-Clark delegates to the party's general meeting in Winnipeg).

* In 1988, Schreiber made large payouts to Canadian officials to influence the decision by Air Canada (then a crown corporation) to purchase 34 aircraft from Airbus Industrie for $1.8 billion. There is proof that in February of that year, Frank Moores was working for Airbus to influence Air Canada to buy the planes. In March, Mulroney appointed Moores to the board of Air Canada. That same month, Air Canada approved the Airbus purchase.

* In 1993-94, Schreiber gave Mulroney three payments of $100,000 each, in envelopes of cash, in hotel rooms. Years later, after these payments were exposed, Mulroney paid tax on the money. The money came from the same Swiss bank accounts as the Airbus bribes, and in keeping with Schreiber's mnemonic naming system (he gave bribery accounts names that were similar to the first names of the recipients), the account was called Britan.

There is much more we need to know. Many people in the Airbus/Schreiber/Mulroney scandal are dead, but the inquiry should get evidence (under oath) from those who are still alive. For example, Frank Moores and Gary Ouellet are dead, but Fred Doucet, the third partner in the lobbying firm Government Consultants International (CGI), lives. Doucet seems to have always been the middleman in dealings between Mulroney and Schreiber, partly because he was Mulroney's chief of staff.


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