Canada: Mulroney-Schreiber Inquiry
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
The Mulroney-Schrieber Inquiry into kickbacks to our former Prime Minister started off with a simple question by the panel of inquisitors. Did you Brian Mulroney when Prime Minister recieve any (Bribe) money from Mr,. Schrieber in the Air Canada purchase (from France) of 2 dozen Airbus Aircraft? A rather simple question in which a answer of "Yes or No" would suffice from our ex Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Mulroney being the Politican he is, went into a long and drawn out speech on his honesty, loyalty, affiliations, yadda, yadda, yadda. After a few hours of mudslinging on both sides I still do not know the answer from his carefully worded phrases and actions from mid 1980's to 1993. More simple and straightforward questions about Mulroney receiving 300k and of Schrieber giving Mulroney 300K were met by my vision of Mulroney and Schrieber's performing their best "Disco Dance" moves meant to dazzle and baffle anyone listening for a straight forward answer.
In ending, I feel taxpayers were treated to what amounts to a artery clogging babbling of two men and various politicians who enjoy the spotlight and love to "Milk this inquiry for every last drop of Creamery Justice" in their quest to seem somewhat relevant to their constituents and media alike.
My Final Thought
That's a couple of hours of my life I'll never get back.
(Come back in a hour for more photos like the one I just made here, complete with disco dance shoes)
Truth still lost in void between Mulroney and Schreiber stories
Don Martin, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2007
OTTAWA - Libeled, blackmailed, the subject of journalistic vendettas and attempted extortion, Brian Mulroney wanted to market himself as a victim who suffered his own "near-death experience" from perennial Airbus allegations.
But he knew it wouldn't wash in a country where Mulroney polls as Canada's most untrustworthy former prime minister. So he went contrite for four hours as a humble witness on the Parliament Hill he ruled as prime minister for nine years.
Less than a minute into his opening address, Mulroney threw his legacy before the court of public opinion and sought forgiveness for his wrongdoings.
He admitted to having been a lousy judge of shady client character in hanging out with German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. He never should've accepted bundles of thousand-dollar bills and stuffed them into safety deposit boxes in two countries. And he probably should've defended himself from slurs and smears years ago.
The apology was the right thing to do and eliminated the ugliest lines of attack from ethics committee MPs probing his questionable business dealings with Schreiber.
Unfortunately, his mea culpa is about 15 years too late to qualify as heartfelt regret.
Mulroney's mostly sorry about the 'perception' of his actions and the fact he got busted for shady private sector conduct unbecoming of a former prime minister. Perhaps his only true remorse in a judgment error was underestimating Schreiber's ability to generate today's "feeding frenzy" from an ancient scandal everybody assumed was forgotten.
But if we assume Mulroney is telling the truth now, his greatest error was staying silent for so long until all this innuendo and allegation swirled into what's shaping up to be a costly Seinfeldian public inquiry about nothing.
True, Mulroney now admits to stuffing wads of thousand-dollar bills into safety deposit boxes scant weeks after leaving the nation's highest office. Yes, he delayed the income tax payment until the optics of the Schreiber deal became dangerously queasy. And given that he could only recall one hour of consultation with Schreiber, you could argue his $225,000 consulting fee was a tad high, even for a double-majority prime minister. But it's hardly enough ammunition to fire up a $30-million public inquiry.
Still, he delivered a masterful performance with more entertainment value than his son Ben's televised fare. It was vintage Mulroney - a baritone blast of blarney mixed with an indignant defence of his character. Any sleazy behaviour was only visible from hindsight, he argued.
There were flashes of wit, such as how he dealt with a Liberal MP who attacked his failure to pay GST on his fees: "How grateful I am, to you and the Liberal party, for your strong defence of the GST."
He unleashed verbal Technicolor, arguing Schreiber "signed an affidavit loaded down with falsehoods, like a Christmas tree on Dec. 25."
Wife Mila sat in the third row with her four children, her face a mask devoid of emotion, while hubby poured out how the family had been traumatically tainted by innuendo and injustice, delivered by Schreiber with giddy help from those pesky evil-doers at the CBC and the Globe and Mail.
Knowing his public credibility is in short support, the only salvage option for Mulroney was to shred Schreiber. And that he did with surgical precision, producing a paper trail of contradictory testimony and newspaper clippings to back his contention that Schreiber will "say anything, sign anything, and do anything to avoid extradition."
By the end of Mulroney's testimony, the committee found itself facing two incompatible versions of the same story.
Schreiber claims he received no service for his fees. Mulroney insists he travelled the world on his own ticket to schmooze with foreign presidents about Schreiber's plan to build light armoured vehicles in Nova Scotia.
His accuser paints the picture of a cash-strapped retiring prime minister, looking for easy money to finance a lavishly unaffordable lifestyle. Mulroney says he was doing just fine financially.
They can't even agree on the fees paid. Schreiber insists he forked over 300 grand, Mulroney counters it at 225. Either way, each envelope had enough cash to buy a loaded Porsche Boxster and a year's worth of gas.
This means the truth is still out there, somewhere in the credibility void between lyin' Brian and slippery Schreiber.
As Mulroney noted when MP Mike Wallace wondered how to reconcile Schreiber's changing versions of the truth: "You figure that one out, you're going to heaven."
Yes, heaven help us when this ruckus restarts in late January, with members firing up top-five witness lists amid promises that both the former prime minister and his former business associate will return to the witness stand.
It's incredible to think that we're on the eve of 2008, and Brian Mulroney haunts us still.