Saturday, November 10, 2007

For the independent party's Schreiber review

This Canadian Press article from Wednesday of this past week, "Tories didn't read briefings on Airbus, Mulroney cash: documents," takes on a whole new light now that some kind of independent investigative person will be appointed to look into the Mulroney/Schreiber dealings and their impact on the federal government's settlement with Mulroney. The reporting suggests that there were briefings of some kind undertaken within the Justice Department but that Conservative Justice Ministers, past and present, did not review it and were allegedly instructed by someone or some entity not to do so:
Notes drafted for the Conservatives by bureaucrats point out that briefing material on Airbus and Mulroney was prepared in 2006 and 2007, but that it never made it to the desk of the current or former justice minister.
A reader suggests that the question to be asked then, is when this briefing material was prepared. Was it instigated under the Conservatives, who later had a mysterious change of heart as to their interest level in the matter? This would suggest some kind of political interference in putting a halt to any further investigation of the Airbus matter. Or was it older material that had been left in the file? In either case, what is procedure in the Justice Department on such matters anyway? Do Justice Department officials unilaterally act on their own to prepare briefings on such sensitive material or do they do so on the instruction of their superiors? If this is indeed the case, then materials were requested, then put on hold. Whatever the circumstances here, these are questions that need to be answered.

Oh yeah, and just what was in the briefing material that could not be touched with a ten foot pole by any living, breathing Conservative?

And consider again this information reported by Canadian Press in that same article:
The statement that there was no briefing is written several times, and phrased in different ways, in notes produced by the department for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

"Some briefing material was prepared by the Department of Justice on this issue on a pro-active basis," says a note from January 2007.

"It was not distributed further than the senior officials within the department."

The same note offers Nicholson a possible response to any questions about Airbus: "Neither I nor my predecessor, the Honourable Vic Toews, received any briefing material related to this issue."

Internal e-mails, also obtained under the Access to Information Act, suggest that even those seemingly innocuous messages may never have made it to Nicholson's desk.

Bureaucrats at justice were informed: "A decision has been made to the effect that this note will not be distributed to the minister's office."

Correspondence records show that one bureaucrat suggested to his political bosses that they remain silent to avoid adding "fuel" to the scandal.

Conservative government officials offered no immediate response to whether Nicholson subsequently request a briefing and if not, why not? (emphasis added)
All of this suggests a great degree of management, by someone or some government department to put a concerted halt to any review of the Mulroney/Schreiber affair under the Conservative government. Just how did the public interest factor into all of this decision making? All of the individuals named in the reporting here are relevant interviewees.

Accountability, accountability, accountability...