Thursday, April 16, 2009

Early Days of the Oliphant Commission Favor Mulroney's Version of Events

Things are definitely looking up for Brian Mulroney after today's testimony at the Oliphant Commission. Three important areas were covered, all of which point towards Mulroney's original story about the $300,000 being true (that he was paid for legitimate lobbying work after leaving office). The areas are:

1. Mulroney's lawyer Guy Pratte got Schreiber to admit that he and Mulroney didn't really sign an agreement two days before Mulroney stepped down, as Schreiber had previously claimed. Mulroney and Schreiber only "agreed to agree." I don't know what the legal status of "agree to agree" is, but it sounds like it could at least be interpreted as not an agreement.

2. Pratte got Schreiber to agree that around the time he paid Mulroney, Bear Head issued a pamphlet saying that the vehicles were designed for UN peacekeeping. This might make more credible Mulroney's claim that he was lobbying the governments of China and Russia. (I don't know the details of peacekeeping, but the main complaint about the China/Russia claim is that it would violate NATO rules for Canada to sell them armaments.)

3. A smaller point, but we learned that when Schreiber met with Fred Doucet on Feb 4 2000 and Doucet gave Schreiber the draft of a letter stating that Mulroney had worked for Schreiber as a lobbyist, Schreiber edited a copy of the letter. (His scribbled copy, which Doucet presumably kept, was entered into evidence.) Previously Schreiber had said that Mulroney's friends had tried to pressure him into stating that he had hired Mulroney; now it looks like he almost went along with it.

According to Kady O'Malley's live blog of the hearings today, Robin Sears made this announcement today:

"The central matter of public trust at issue in the Inquiry was Karlheinz Schreiber’s assertion, made in his affidavit of November 2007, that he and Mr. Mulroney had entered into an agreement at Harrington Lake while he was still Prime Minister in 1993.

Today, Mr. Schreiber admitted that was not true and that the agreement was made at Mirabel on August 27,1993, two months after Mr. Mulroney had left office.

The core foundation of Mr.Schreiber’s accusations against Mr. Mulroney has been destroyed by his own testimony under oath today."

It's starting to look like the real offence here was that Mulroney initially tried to hide the money from Revenue Canada. But since he made a voluntary disclosure in 1999, he's clear of any wrongdoing there.

I have been very critical of Mulroney throughout this scandal, but if this is the truth, then we need to know it. Of course there's still lots of testimony to come, and Schreiber made a bizarre promise yesterday morning that he would reveal details of seven scandals...



The Mound of Sound said...

Right, except that wasn't Mulroney's original statement of events. The original statement was the one he gave under oath during his discovery in his 2-million dollar lawsuit against Canada. You can listen to the tape of the "original statement" on CBC's web site. It's the one where he deposed the only dealings he'd had with Schreiber were to meet him for a cup of coffee a few times.

The 'original statement' to which you refer is the convenient statement BMPM made AFTER Schreiber released his Swiss bank records to CBC well after he'd pocketed his $2-million cheque pinned to Canada's letter of apology.

Kephalos said...

"It's starting to look like the real offence here was that Mulroney initially tried to hide the money from Revenue Canada. But since he made a voluntarily disclosure in 1999, he's clear of any wrongdoing there."

Taking a $2.1 settlement for a personal harm that never occurred doesn't count, eh?

Yappa said...

Excellent points. Thanks, guys. I have to admit I was a little sorry to have come to the conclusions I did and posted partly because I think we need to be fair about the facts, but also because I was hoping some counter-arguments would emerge. And they have!