Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Jun. 01, 2010
Greg McArthur and Daniel Leblanc
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from Karlheinz Schreiber “as part of a scheme” to conceal the payments, a commission of inquiry has found. But after spending at least $14-million, listening to 39 days of testimony and reviewing 150,000 pages of evidence, the Oliphant inquiry couldn’t say what he did to earn it.
In a sometimes scathing examination of Mr. Mulroney’s acceptance of at least $225,000 in cash from the German-born, and now incarcerated, lobbyist, Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, the inquiry’s chair, repeatedly called Mr. Mulroney’s actions “inappropriate.” He described his own “skepticism” of the former prime minister’s explanation about the work he performed for the money, and called Mr. Mulroney’s explanation for his failure to disclose the payments during a court proceeding “patently absurd.”
Almost as soon as Judge Oliphant and his legal staff concluded their remarks to the media Monday, calls began for the government to recoup the $2.1-million that the Justice Department agreed to pay Mr. Mulroney’s lawyers and public-relations team in 1997 as part of a settlement agreement.
That settlement, made long before the cash payments in hotel rooms were known, was the conclusion to a defamation lawsuit that the former prime minister launched against the government over a letter the RCMP sent to Switzerland. In the letter, the Mounties accused Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber of defrauding the Canadian government in relation to Air Canada’s 1988 purchase of 34 Airbus airplanes, a charge that Mr. Mulroney vigorously denied.