Monday, November 12, 2007

What About the Other $9.7M? ...and other issues

Brian Mulroney has now admitted to receiving $300,000 in cash from arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber, and Schreiber has claimed that the deal that led to the payout was made while Mulroney was Prime Minister. This is a very important issue and requires investigation.

But we seem to be losing sight of the bigger picture. Schreiber is thought to have handed out a whole lot more money in bribes to get Air Canada to buy 34 airplanes from Airbus Industries in the late 80s. Reports in the early 90s were that $20M was distributed, $10M in Canada. I'm glad that Stephen Harper is appointing someone to decide what to do about the Mulroney scandal, but we must find out what happened to the other $9.7M.

You'd think that that amount of money would leave a trace. It has been documented that the Mulroney's lavish lifestyle was mostly paid for in cash. But surely some estimates could be made of how much they spent and where it came from. Ditto late Newfoundland Premier Frank Moores, who is widely believed to have been a recipient of Airbus bribes.

My guess is that Stephen Harper is going to want to keep the terms of his investigation as narrow as he can - perhaps as narrow as who in the Privy Council got Schreiber's letter seven months ago and what they did with it.

It's our job to make sure that the investigation is more substantive.

For example:

* Schreiber is only admitting to a very small percentage of the influence money he paid politicians in Canada, and it may be unrelated to the Airbus bribes. After decades of investigation and controversy, the only way to get to the whole truth about Airbus may be to offer the man immunity. I agree that it's not pleasant to grant immunity to an international criminal, but keep in mind that he's 71.

* There is a wealth of evidence that Mulroney received a ton of cash over his term as PM and beyond. Money came from the Conservative party, supporters and who-knows-where-else. Mulroney declared at least some of this extraremuneratory cash on his income tax (one year as PM he apparently claimed a $300,000 income, which far exceeded his salary), but it also seems likely that he didn't claim all of it. A tax audit would be appropriate.

* The RCMP investigation into the Airbus bribes went on beyond Mulroney's civil suit against the government. Can they produce some sort of interim report, or at least make some of the information they gathered public?

* It seems clear that Mulroney perjured himself in his 1995 civil case in which he got a $2.1M settlement from the federal government. He said he never received money from Schreiber, and now he has admitted that he did. Since Schreiber says the money came from the Swiss account code-named Britan, and the suit was over the RCMP's investigation of that account, we as a country should do what we can to get our $2.1M back.

* Mulroney was able to sue the government in the first place because of the way the RCMP worded a request for information. It was awfully convenient for Mulroney that the RCMP made that mistake. Are we certain that it was an honest mistake?

Yes, this is a can of worms, and it has been dogging the country for 20 years. It's time for some transparency.



Anonymous said...

I agree that every stone needs to be turned to find every single politician that took money from Schreiber - He is wanted in Germany for exactly the same thing (supposedly operating a slush fund for politicians) - Anyone who thinks the only politician he had dealings with was Mulroney is a bit short-sighted. I have no doubt when/if he starts talking he will have a little black book of politicians (Conservative, Liberal and maybe an NDP or two) to rival the best of the Hollywood Madams.

Yappa said...

Right... For example, Elmer MacKay (PC) and Marc Lalonde (L) each put up $100,000 in 1999 to get Schreiber out on bail. Maybe they're just really, really nice guys, or maybe they wanted to keep Schreiber from talking? I have no idea, but I agree with you that it likely won't just be the Conservatives who get implicated.