Monday, November 26, 2007

My Two Cents on the Decision of the Mulroney/Schreiber Inquiry

For once, I agree with Gagnon.

Regardless if Mulroney did or did not take any kickbacks, my respect for the man remains unchanged. He is still one of the best PM this country ever had. He implemented fundamental reforms and controversial (but good) policies to improve the economic and social well-beings of Canada.

A public inquiry should not have been ordered. The federal government should have left this file alone, or just order an RCMP investigation. There is nothing to gain to have a public inquiry into this matter. All it does is to waste another hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollar.

DATE: 2007.11.26
SECTION: Comment Column

Mr. Harper should drop the inquiry


At Montreal's annual book fair, a week ago Saturday, Brian Mulroney - the author - was supposed to be one of the main guests. But only a trickle of people lined up to request a signed copy of his 1,200-page memoir.

The next day, at a nearby stand, Jean Chretien, who also published his memoirs this fall, attracted far more attention, even though Mr. Mulroney is - or was, until very recently - considerably more popular than Mr. Chretien in Quebec. (Mr. Mulroney didn't show up for his second scheduled appearance that day.) Mud sticks. Mr. Mulroney may never recover from the smear campaign mounted against him by a shady character who faces multiple accusations of fraud in Germany, and the opposition parties who are now exploiting the affair for their own partisan motives.

Still, the one who is most to blame in this low-level soap opera is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who clearly lost his bearings.

All he had to do, as Jean Chretien wisely suggested, was to say that if an illegal act had been committed, this was for the police to investigate. Instead, he lamely gave in to the cries for a public inquiry, imposing on us another costly, mudslinging operation that will probably amount to nothing much, except lost reputations and wasted paper.

At least the Gomery inquiry was into the activities of a party that was still in power. But a full public inquiry into the private business of a man who retired from politics 14 years ago? An inquiry, to boot, whose star witness will be an alleged fraudster who already contradicted himself several times and who was obviously ready to say anything to avoid extradition? (Hans Leyendecker, a journalist who has investigated cases of political corruption in Germany, told La Presse that he stopped talking to Karlheinz Schreiber because the lobbyist systematically led him down blind alleys. Too bad Mr. Leyendecker didn't give this piece of advice to the Canadian reporters who gullibly scribbled down everything Mr. Schreiber told them from his prison cell.) Of course, Mr. Mulroney committed a tremendous error of judgment in accepting cash payments. But frankly, are his private transactions a priority for Canadians in 2007? Can't today's politicians find something more useful to do? Never mind Mr. Mulroney himself called for a public inquiry. He has his own agenda: To take revenge against those he believes mounted a vendetta against him, including everyone from former Liberal justice minister Allan Rock to his perceived arch enemy journalist Stevie Cameron. If Mr. Mulroney wants to clear his name, all he has to do is to write another book.

Mr. Harper's second mistake was to ostracize Mr. Mulroney, going so far as to forbid Conservative MPs, senators and senior party officials from even talking to him - a base attack against a man who gave the Conservative party two huge consecutive majorities, whose governmental legacy was one of the most brilliant in Canadian history and who had been one of Mr. Harper's most trusted advisers.

Yet, the Prime Minister treated Mr. Mulroney, who has never been found guilty of an illegal act, as a convicted criminal.

Why wouldn't the presumption of innocence enjoyed by all Canadians, including those who shoot people in front of witnesses, apply to a former prime minister? It's enough that the parliamentary hearings scheduled to start tomorrow will turn into a partisan circus. Let's stop here. Mr. Schreiber should be quickly sent to his fate in Germany and Mr. Harper should scotch the silly idea of holding an inquiry into the minor events of two decades ago. Nobody would object if the Prime Minister reversed his thoughtless decision, except the journalists who wasted months of their lives looking into such trivial matters and the big law firms that would be the only beneficiaries of a full-scale inquiry.


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