Friday, November 30, 2007

Mulroney/Schreiber: hearing aftermath

Yes, more notes from the big story...

1. Somebody had a very bad day. And that somebody was Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. Beeg flip-flop on that extradition thing, there guy. Huuuuge. Terrible, just terrible optics on you right now. Oh no, we can't do it, can't interfere, don't have the power. Whoops! We do. Want a stay? OK by us.

The great motivator? Overwhelming public opinion in support of Schreiber's testimony, which couldn't happen if he were to be extradited.

2. Et tu, Norman Spector? Former Mulroney guy is piling on, talking to CP about Mulroney's support for Schreiber's "Bear Head" military project which would have had military vehicles built in Nova Scotia for German arms maker Thyssen, at Schreiber's behest. Problem according to Spector was that there was tremendous opposition to the project all around, from Paul Tellier, bureaucrats, the military, uniformly. Except for Mulroney who instructed Spector to get it done. The project did not proceed, ultimately, as Mulroney apparently learned of the high cost in setting it up. Spector left Mulroney's staff and got wind later that another look at the project had occurred. It never did, in the end, get off the ground.

What's interesting here is the 1990 date of Mulroney's instruction to Spector to get the project done. This occurred, clearly, while Mulroney was PM and years before any payments were received by Mulroney from Schreiber. This needs to be put to Mulroney for explanation.

3. Harper continues to get a very healthy benefit of the doubt from media types covering this matter. The notion that Harper could possibly have done something wrong in connection with the Mulroney file is usually dismissed by commentators. What is their basis for such certainty? Note this, for example:
And eyebrows rose when Schreiber testified he'd been assured that Mulroney's request for extradition relief had been "very well received" by Harper at that 2006 meeting, a charge that's almost impossible to believe, given Harper's furious reaction to his name being mildly muddied in earlier court documents.
Well, Schreiber said it was "well received" by Harper. Someone told him it was. So who's lying? Mulroney? Or someone else?

Remember that it has been reported that the Justice Department's briefings on the Mulroney file have been stifled under the Harper government and further, that an investigation into whether the Mulroney settlement should have been reconsidered was put a halt to under the Harper government. So it's not a stretch to say that Harper and his gang wanted this matter to go away. And it wouldn't be a stretch to say that information putting to rest the Mulroney/Schreiber dispute would have been "well received."

4. The talking point of the day coming from the Conservatives post-hearing was that, based on Russ Hiebert's few questions, Schreiber had never met or spoken with Harper or anyone in the PMO. Gee, there's a big surprise. Schreiber doesn't seem to have had many direct dealings with Mulroney, either. There have instead been a host of intermediaries in the picture mentioned from time to time. From Fred Doucet, to Frank Moores, to Elmer MacKay. Why would that pattern not be replicated here, with a similar intermediary on Schreiber's behalf? And I notice that Hiebert didn't ask about any intermediaries in his questioning. He asked whether Schreiber himself had any interactions with Harper or whether a lawyer had on his behalf.

And note that there was an indication by Schreiber that he did in fact receive correspondence from Harper. Hiebert quite helpfully established that fact in his questioning (see previous link). That had not been known, prior to today. Granted, we still require the details, as they were sorely lacking, on said correspondence.

5. For someone who is supposed to be verboten with the Conservative government, Brian Mulroney's lingering closeness to them is still doing a lot of good with the feds. Big story on CBC last night:
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney talked to the current Conservative government on behalf of a company that could benefit from Ottawa's decision to open up the wireless industry to more competition, CBC News has learned.

Mulroney played an active role in bringing together former industry minister Maxime Bernier and Pierre Karl Peladeau, CEO of Quebecor Media, CBC News has learned. Mulroney is on the board of directors for Quebecor Media.

Sources say earlier this year, Mulroney asked Bernier to meet with Peladeau. The request was made during a conversation on a range of topics.

During their chat, Mulroney reminded Bernier of Quebecor's strong belief that the government should allow new players into the telecom sector, something sources say Bernier was opposed to.
On Wednesday, the Conservative government paved the way for new cellphone companies by announcing new rules for an auction of radio airwaves designed to spur competition in the wireless industry. Analysts expect Quebecor will be one of the companies to enter the auction. (emphasis added)
What am I up to now in the Maxime Bernier watch? Oh yes, this would be strike seven.

Apparently Mulroney should be registered as a lobbyist in order to be arranging such meetings, given his position on the Quebecor board. Again, not looking good for the Harperites and their linkings with Mulroney. Big conflict of interest and appearance of favoritism going on here.