Mr. Mulroney's money
As several people prepare to tell the Commons Ethics Committee what they know about Brian Mulroney and money he received from various sources, I thought it might be useful to offer a brief review of some of what I have learned about all this myself.
- Before Brian Mulroney was elected Prime Minister of Canada, a powerful cross-Canada network of fundraisers, led by Montreal Conservative senator Guy Charbonneau, offered a variety of ways to donate to his leadership campaign. One of the most interesting options, offered only to trusted insiders, was an account was set up for Mulroney in a downtown Montreal branch of Montreal Trust. Donors who were interested in privacy and who didn't require tax receipts could make out a cheque to Montreal Trust - Account # 830, and Mulroney could withdraw money from this account himself.
- Shortly before Mulroney's 1984 victory, one fundraiser I know was offered a senatorship by Guy Charbonneau (who died a few years ago) in exchange for a contribution of $100,000 to Account 830 at Montreal Trust. The fundraiser said no, thanks.
- While Mulroney was prime minister, his blind trust and other financial affairs were managed by Bruce Verchere, a Montreal tax lawyer who later shot himself. The whole story - or rather, the part I was able to tell - is in Blue Trust, a book published by Macfarlane Walter & Ross in 1998.
- When I was researching a story about the Mulroneys' decorating expenses at 24 Sussex Drive, a story that appeared in the Globe and Mail in 1987, I discovered the PC Party was underwriting many of the costs - at least $324,000 worth. Buried in the receipts was one cheque on CIBC account number 72-1112 at their main Montreal branch on Rue Rene Levesque. This cheque, made out to the Mulroney's interior designer, Giovanni Mowinckel and bearing the signature of PC Canada Fund Chairman David Angus, had no logo or identification on it; a call to the bank confirmed that it was a PC Canada Fund account. But Robert Foster, the man who succeeded Mr. Angus in 1994 as head of the Fund, told me that the Fund only had one bank account and it was held in the CIBC in Ottawa.
- Mulroney and his spokespeople always denied that he received any financial support from the PC Party while he was in office. When I interviewed Mr. Angus in his law office in Montreal on June 27, 1994 I asked him about reliable information I had obtained that Mr. Mulroney was receiving about $300,000 a year from the party. Another source, the Mulroneys' former chef, Francois Martin, had also told me that for several years he would go to the Prime Minister's Office to pick up envelopes of cash from Fred Doucet or other persons; the envelopes were always unsealed and contained thousands of dollars - he remembered amounts of anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 or so. The money, he told me, was "walking-around money" for Mila Mulroney. Martin also did banking for Mrs. Mulroney, taking envelopes of cash to deposit in her account at the Bank of Montreal on Wellington Street in Ottawa. (Many years later I met a former bank manager who handled the Mulroney accounts. He wouldn't talk about them but he did admit the work was often, as he put it wryly, "quite ... exciting.")