Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mulroney/Schreiber: the last minute stay edition

What are the Harper Conservatives trying to do with their very fine, careful legal strategy in the Schreiber matter? These guys are incredible. Won't do anything until forced to act. Last night they apparently capitulated on their push to extradite Schreiber and will now agree to a stay of the extradition order. But only for 10 days. And it's conditional on Schreiber's lawyers agreeing to some expedited timetable set by the Justice Department. So it really doesn't seem like much of a substantive response to the major political problem facing Harper and his Justice Minister. They appear to be stonewalling on ensuring Schreiber's availability for these Committee hearings but also for a public inquiry. As Eddie stated the other day, you can't speak out of both sides of your mouth. Their offer last night seems motivated by p.r. concerns, nothing else.

The report from the Globe on the federal government's suddenly discovered power to act on the extradition order:
The sense of urgency surrounding Mr. Schreiber's testimony eased last night when the government said it would not extradite him while a last-ditch appeal remains before the courts.

The government offered to push back the earliest extradition date from Saturday to Dec. 10, but Mr. Schreiber's lawyers refused and said they would let the Ontario Court of Appeal settle the matter tomorrow.

His lawyers want the Ontario court to grant a stay of the extradition, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court will take weeks to consider whether it will hear Mr. Schreiber's appeal, likely allowing him to remain available for questioning by MPs.

The offer to push back the extradition came as a surprise, given that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Tuesday that he had no authority to take such action.

In a letter to the law clerk of the House, a senior Justice Department official said Mr. Nicholson will have to act on the extradition order within 45 days of the Supreme Court ruling or else Mr. Schreiber could apply to be released.

"We have written to Mr. Schreiber's lawyer to advise him that the Attorney General of Canada will consent to the application for a stay, provided that steps are taken to expedite the application for leave to appeal," Donald Rennie said.
Seems to me there are rules in place on such legal procedures. Why the federal government believes it can dictate a time frame to a citizen is a little bizarre.

Also of note from various reports, including the one cited above...a former Prime Minister of this country is under significant scrutiny here regarding his business dealings with Schreiber and there are a ton of unanswered questions about these circumstances. This hearing today will be the first public hearing under oath to deal with questions that have been lingering for years now. Yet all Jack Layton seems to be focussed on is widening this inquiry to others in his neverending quest to excuse Conservative wrongdoing. He sounds like he's already moved on from the main event.

The show starts today...stay tuned...