Monday, November 05, 2007

Quite the predicament

Today Chantal Hebert is suggesting the appointment of an independent person to look into the $2.1 million settlement awarded to Brian Mulroney as a result of his lawsuit against the Canadian government and the subsequent revelations that Mulroney had actually received $300,000 from Karlheinz Schreiber, unbeknownst to the Canadian government that settled the case. While the call for an investigation is worth supporting, the notion that Harper should appoint someone is misguided. Harper has a blatant conflict of interest. Mulroney is a confidant of Harper and Harper has admitted as such. So it would be completely inappropriate for Harper to be involved in selecting an individual to investigate the Mulroney issues. The need for the matter to be looked into, however, is clear.

As noted by Hebert, the rationale for an investigation is that despite protestations that Mulroney's business dealings were private, there is a glaring public interest here:
While there has been no suggestion that his dealings with Schreiber involved criminal activity, his libel suit against the government could have had a much different outcome if all of the facts that have been brought to the fore since the settlement was awarded had been disclosed at the time it was negotiated.
There is also this allegation which raises a public interest:
The Liberals have been pressing for an inquiry into the affair, but Harper rejected their demands last week, saying the Mulroney-Schreiber dealings were matters of private business, not of public interest.

Thibault retorted Sunday that the first instalment of $100,000 was delivered - at least according to Schreiber - when Mulroney was still an MP in August 1993, even though he had stepped down as prime minister.
As the CP article suggests, the Liberals are intent on pursuing this matter. Harper's going to have to face continued cat calls or do something about it. Maybe he's prepared to fight it out. We shall see.

In addition to Harper's conflicted role were he to choose someone to investigate Mulroney, his track record thus far in his appointments of high profile individuals to investigate matters has been typically partisan. As Hebert notes, he appointed a former PQ minister to investigate past Liberal polling practices. And he appointed John Manley to head the Afghanistan task force in order to provide the Harper government with political cover while difficulties on the ground in Afghanistan mount, allowing the Conservatives to deflect questioning. What would be different here?

Quite the dilemma. After all, if Harpie wants that election so badly, as the reports continue to suggest, this can't be good.