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Memo to the Mulroney 'Probe'

Some vital questions that need answering.

Rafe Mair 26 Nov

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. Read previous columns by Rafe Mair. To register for free to hear Rafe Live, Mair's new webcast, visit

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For his sake, too, let's find out.

Probe: "A penetrating or critical investigation."

Is this what Prime Minister Harper intends as he orders a "probe" into the business affairs of Brian Mulroney? Or will it be confined to a bit of a look-see into the $300,000 in cash the former PM received from the Airbus Mr. Fix-it, Karl-Heinz Schreiber? If the latter, neither the Canadian public nor, if he's innocent, Mr. Mulroney, will be well served.

The issue is a serious one indeed. In 1988, while Mr. Mulroney was Prime Minister, Airbus sold 34 A-320 jets for $1.8 billion to Air Canada, then a federal crown corporation. Karl-Heinz Schreiber was the de facto owner of a Liechtenstein company called IAL which brokered the deal. Contrary to what Mr. Mulroney said under oath in 1998 (of which more later), he knew Schreiber well, had received financial help from him in his 1983 campaign to unseat PC leader Joe Clark, and in fact had pressured Schreiber, upon completion of the Airbus deal, to pay a fat commission to Mulroney's crony, the late Frank Moores.

Mr. Mulroney doesn't deny receiving this money from Mr. Schreiber, a fugitive from German justice who has engaged in a hugely expensive fight to avoid extradition.

These questions about the $300,000 cash payments arise.

If the payments were to Mulroney, and they were for legal fees, surely he had to report this to his law firm or be guilty of breach of trust. In legal partnerships members of the firm generally can't do legal work on the side.

This raises another question:

These questions must be taken in the context of a National Post article published Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, which reports: "Businessman Karlheinz Schreiber alleges in an affidavit filed in court yesterday that an advisor to former prime minister Brian Mulroney requested a transfer of funds to Mr. Mulroney's lawyer in Geneva related to the Airbus deal."

More questions:

Which spurs another question:

And the questions hardly stop there:

Throughout this saga, a Swiss bank account named BRITAN keeps popping up and Schreiber claims it was from this account he paid Mulroney.

I've commented extensively on the reluctance of Canada's "old boy" media to investigate this entire matter but have not raised this matter of great importance to Canadians: The RCMP has, throughout, behaved as if they act or don't act depending on how tight their political masters hold the leash.

Which leads to:

This is not a matter of a political vendetta against former prime minister Mulroney but rather an attempt to raise issues which must be dealt with. The facts as we know them, and the questions they have prompted, raise serious concerns about Mr. Mulroney's actions while in office. The questions are not difficult to understand though they may be difficult to deal with. If they are not satisfactorily answered, many Canadians will believe that Brian Mulroney, in Stevie Cameron's famous phrase, was On the Take.

If Mr. Mulroney is innocent of any wrongdoing, it's in his interest to have this entire affair thoroughly examined.

Whether he's innocent or not, Canadians have the right to know what the real story is.

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