When the Conservatives were asked last fall if government ministers met with Brian Mulroney about the big-money auction of wireless-telephone airwaves, the Tories dismissed the questions as "ridiculous," "nonsense" and "hogwash."Oh, yes. The aides. Look at what the silly, inferior aides did:
Yet government documents show that cabinet minister Maxime Bernier was scheduled by his staff to do just that in November of 2006, with a meeting set at Montreal's University Club that was expected to include talk about telecommunications issues that concerned Mr. Mulroney's employer, Quebecor Inc.
That meeting was cancelled, and Mr. Mulroney's associates say that's because an appointment to chat was mistaken for a business meeting by Mr. Bernier's aides.
Mr. Mulroney has denied making any representations to the Canadian government about any kind of business. Because he was a Quebecor director and chairman of major subsidiary Quebecor World Inc., the company would have been required to register Mr. Mulroney as a lobbyist if he met the minister about a policy change.The aides, you see, screwed up. The passive, sieve-like Bernier by contrast "was briefed," "was prepared" and was given his talking points (passive tense). Quite a bit of ground work done for a big mix up. Yet all that supposedly occurred was an innocent little chat about Maxime's future, for him to receive tutelage from the grand Conservative poobah in Quebec. Despite the briefing and preparation he received, that is. And despite the ultimate fact that Quebecor's goal here, to have airwaves set aside for new entrants to the wireless market was achieved with the later approval of Jim Prentice, Bernier's successor as Industry Minister.
But in 2006, Mr. Bernier was briefed for such a meeting.
Government documents show that Mr. Bernier, then industry minister, was prepared for a scheduled Nov. 6, 2006, meeting with Mr. Mulroney and Luc Lavoie, the executive vice-president of Quebecor Inc. and a former Mulroney aide.
"The purpose of the meeting is to discuss telecommunications issues," said an Industry Department memo to Mr. Bernier, written by assistant deputy minister Michael Binder.
The memo, released under the Access to Information Act, lists "talking points" for Mr. Bernier on four issues expected to come up, including the auction of wireless-telephone airwaves.
The wireless spectrum auction was a high-stakes issue for Quebecor, which wanted to enter the wireless market but lobbied the government to set aside a portion of the airwaves for new entrants to the market.
Yes, I'm sure it was all as innocent as the Conservatives say.