Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mulroney/Schreiber notes: the toast edition

1. The Mulroney/Schreiber matter is getting to the Conservatives and the Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in particular. Read Garth Turner's evocative report from the floor of the House yesterday describing the confusion on the Conservative side and the "crestfallen" Justice Minister. It seems that he can't bring himself to defend the Conservative position on Schreiber - hand sitting - with gusto. Who can blame him? He knows public opinion is against him now, that Canadians by a two-thirds majority want to hear what Schreiber has to say and believe he should be kept in Canada during a public inquiry.

An intriguing little bit from Garth's blog:
My seatmate, feisty Robert Thibault from Yarmouth, stopped drawing me a diagram of how the Mulroney-Schreiber affair massively implicates the Harper government, long enough in QP to level a blast at Nicholson.
If Thibault’s chart is half true, I’d now say, Rob Nicholson had reason to slump. His boss is toast.
Toast, you say? Yes, a capital idea in the morning...:)

2. Eddie Greenspan appropriately calls out Harper. The Justice Minister ain't doin' bupkus without an A-OK from the Harper PMO. Eddie speaks:
Capping a day of wild legal and political manoeuvring, Mr. Schreiber's lawyer, Edward Greenspan, accused the Harper government of wanting to get the lobbyist out of Canada, despite plans to hold a public inquiry into his past dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

“It seems to me the government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth and really, the appearance is that there was never any intention to have a public inquiry,” Mr. Greenspan said.

“When a Prime Minister of this country says ‘I'm calling for a public inquiry' and he retains a respected a person as he has retained in [David] Johnston, to look into what the terms of reference ought to be, I take him at his word.”

“And I take him not only at his word, but that he clearly would want Mr. Schreiber in Canada during the duration of that inquiry ... it would be ridiculous to think that an inquiry would go on with Mr. Schreiber in another country where he wouldn't have access to his lawyer.”
Putting Harper right where he ought to be, in the spotlight for accountability's sake.

3. Law professor Errol Mendes with a rebuke to Nicholson (from same Globe report just cited):
Mr. Nicholson said he had no authority to act in this case, given that Mr. Schreiber is not sought by the Canadian justice system.
Errol Mendes, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said he was “astonished” by the minister's comments, given that the Ontario Court of Appeal has said the “ultimate decision” in extradition matters is political.

“I'm not sure if [the minister] really understands the extradition process,” he said.
Again, more polite benefit of the doubt characterization going on here...but the smart bet is that yes, he actually does understand the extradition process.

4. Bob Fife tells us that Schreiber will indeed be there on Thursday morning and will be permitted to change into a suit in a windowless room. (Duh?) He also repeats the Conservative talking point that that the committee hearings are likely to be a "gong show." Bob chose "gong show" to perhaps disguise his synchronicity with the Conservatives who have been using "circus."

5. Hope Ethics Committee members are prepping all day get their questions into a succinct, direct form. Not too many hours with Schreiber...and this could be it, if the Conservatives get their way.