Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Whozits and Happy Wotsit from the Kitty

Wishing all of you a peaceful, happy holiday. May you enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer--good food, good friends, good...uhh...poinsettia wrappers?

Be good to each other. Lots of love & hugs,

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Mumbrage: The most melodramatic drinking game on The Hill

Oh! The Draaaaama! Have you recovered, yet, Brian? I'm not sure that I have. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably heard that the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (or "BM," as I've come to know him) presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee for an exhausting 3 1/2 hours on Thursday. As with the Schreiber testimony (Nov 29, Dec 4, Dec 6, and Dec 11), your friendly neighbourhood kitty took notes. Too many notes! I hope you find them useful: I've added links to documents, articles and references to Karlheinz Schreiber's testimony.

You can find my notes at my not-so-live-blog "Foul Deeds," in twelve parts:
  • Part I: "It was like a near-death experience," except it wasn't
  • Part II: I'll be on the couch, since you're already on the Cross
  • Part III: International Man of Mystery
  • Part IV: It was all very sophisticated
  • Part V: "Winnipeg in January? Now, that's downright nutty!"
  • Part VI: A perfectly legitimate businessman
  • Part VII: The Conservative Godfather v. The Johnny Come Lately
  • Part VIII: "You've been very generous with your taxes"
  • Part IX: Comartin brings it!
  • Part X: Never ask a man 'how big' it was
  • Part XI: "I had a wife and 4 children, and a mother to support"
  • Part XII: "Clean as a hound's tooth"
Ugh, wasn't it bad enough to live with him for 8 yrs--I gotsta seez him puff & blow & point on teh TV, too? As Heather Mallick said, it was downright excruciating. His blowhardiness knew no limits, and I've taken significant pains to document each and every spit-take and eyeroll-worthy comment he made. In fact, as I noted in Part II ("I'll be on the couch, since you're already on the Cross"), I really wish that I had proposed a Mulroney Drinking Game: Take a shot whenever BM says "my family" or "international(ly)."

Contradictions and admissions to oily-oozy-sleazy behaviour are noted in blue-text as "Whoops!" or "Oopsie!" to draw your attention to the low-lights of BM's testimony. Check-out this testy exchange with Thibault, par example:
Thibault (LPC): did the money go through the law firm, the two subsequent amounts?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: they didn't go through the law firm (Whoops!)
Thibault (LPC): thank you...
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: (annoyed) No, just a minute! I negotiated a provision w/the law firm that would allow me to deal with this kind of matter in the manner that I did. It was an exception...
Thibault (LPC): thank you
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: it was a single exception to the partnership rule.
Thibault (LPC): thank you, I appreciate your brevity. You were working for Thyssen internationally--did you report to Thyssen on the work that you did, either in written reports to Thyssen or to Mr. S?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: not in written reports, but to Mr. Schreiber, yes. (Whoops x 2)
Thibault (LPC): did you make notes of your progress?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: yes
Thibault (LPC): can you provide them to the cmte?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, I can't provide them to the cmte today. (Whoops x 3) It was some 14-15 yrs ago.
Thibault (LPC): In your deposition, in lawsuit against gov Canada, on pg 98, question 276, you said you've never had a bank acct outside Montreal, and never have. How do you explain that?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: It was a safety deposit box. (Whoops x 4)
So: the Schreiber money went into BM's 'international' consulting business, but he's destroyed any record of these transactions (or work completed in exchange for the cash). And the cash sat in safety deposit boxes. Nice, huh? And it got worse...here's the BQ's Ménard (and, later, chairman Szabo) with more fun-with-missing-documents:
Ménard (BQ): did you keep track of your "professional work?" (*snerk*)
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: (annoyed) yes, I said so.
Ménard (BQ): yes, you did speak about it, but you had some accounting, some time-sheets?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney:
no, I didn't have any accounting, (Oopsie!) [...]
Ménard (BQ): that's what I'm trying to understand...you had 75K in cash in a safety deposit box...you were travelling. Did you regularly get money from that (box) to get money for the trip?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, not at all, I used my credit card. When I was travelling internationally. As you know, as a lawyer in Montréal, I was travelling for a number of clients, so I used my credit cards, and at the end, I assigned a very modest percentage of that to Mr. Schreiber's acct. The rest I kept either for the office or for myself.
Ménard (BQ): did you keep track of that? Any notes on the amount you attributed? Where did you write it down?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: I kept it in the records I had w/me, I gave a file to Mr. Yeltsin...(Huh? We have to go dig up Boris to find out?!)
Szabo (chair, LPC): referring to the safety deposit box in your home, but you also referred to a ledger you were keeping? You have a written ledger?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, that was 15 yrs ago. As soon as the tax issues were resolved, I disposed of those documents. (Major Oopsie!)
Comartin managed to get BM to repeat this particular confession, later in the hearing. Aside: it must be said that Comartin and Ménard really served us well on Thursday. Thibault, too. No showboating or hammin' it up for the cameras (*cough* Pat Martin *cough*). Just short, sharp questioning. But lest any Konservatives try to persuade you that this was a partisan "feeding frenzy"--a phrase BM used ad nauseum on Thursday--here's CPC Ralph Reed Russ Hiebert evincing yet another confession from the Man without a Past:
Hiebert (CPC): when Mr. Schreiber provided that money, did you give him a kind of receipt?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, I didn't, in fact, he didn't even indicate to me---he told a newspaper that, when he gave it to me, that I had no idea what the amount was or the denominations were--and he told someone else on TV that he's a European businessman and that's how transactions were done...and that's essentially what he told me, so I had no idea. (Whoops!)
That's right: no receipt or invoices for services rendered to Schreiber. None. Never. Not ever. This grand, 'International' Man of Mystery businessman couldn't issue an invoice against his retainer? Why the hells not, if it was 'perfectly legitimate business?' It beggars belief. In fact, it's so literally incredible that even Conservative hack Mike Wallace returned to the receipt question, later in the hearing (and got the same answer, but with added Mumbrage --Mulroney umbrage):
Wallace (CPC): so you've provided him w/no receipt and he's asked for absolutely none.
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: that's correct. He was satisfied w/the full report I gave him--over an hour!--at the Pierre Hotel in NYC. And he said, "this is tremendous initiatives, hard work, visiting these heads of state..." (Oh, *puke* enough with the Yeltsin meetings, already!)
And so it went. The Mumbrage. The hurt puppy looks. The dramatic readings from newspaper clippings (e.g. the Schreiber loves me/He loves me not sequence for Del Mastro). Yes, our former PM clearly fancies himself quite the ac-TOR:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite
jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a
thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is!
My gorge rises at it.--Hamlet Act 5, scene 1, 179–188
But, perhaps most cringe-worthy of all were his repeated allusions to his poor family--teh wife! teh kidz! This grew quite tiresome and, uhhhh...rich. I can't imagine how you coped, sir:
Well, he had enough money to be able to buy a mansion at 47 Forden Cres. in upper Westmount, the richest part of the richest Montreal neighbourhood, for $1.675 million. And then he and Mila proceeded to spend at least $700,000 fixing up the home, which includes an indoor swimming pool.
To top it off, the "broke" Mulroney managed to find a job within days of stepping down as prime minister, returning to one of his old employers, the Montreal law firm of Ogilvy Renault. The salary wasn't disclosed, but you can bet it meant he was no longer poor.
Ok, I will grudgingly concede that Mulroney testified that he was not in critical financial trouble post-PM (e.g. in his exchange w/Murphy). But would you believe he actually had teh ballz to liken his tribulations to a: (1) "near death experience," (2)"long and painful nightmare," (3) "catastrophe," and (4) "calamity?" He practically begged the committee's pity. And as Mulroney is wont to do, he went too far...he actually asked the cmte to remember the story of a little boy named James Moore and that wicked witch "errant MP" who accused him of watching teh pr0n. I shit you not:
Last week, a fine young parliamentarian had his reputation assaulted, when a fellow MP made damaging allegations about him in the HOC. Within minutes, this story was across the country, particularly in BC, where he lives, works and represents a constituency in the HOC. His reputation was damaged, his credibility affected, and his integrity challenged. [...]Fortunately, the errant MP soon apologized and withdrew the false allegation. But the damage was done. But what happens to you if there is no prompt withdrawal (like, the rhythm method?) and you are forced to fight on frequently for years and at enormous emotional and financial cost to defend yourself and your family against this accusation? What happens to you? And your kids? (your kids?! They go to Harvard and/or host crappy knock-off reality shows?) Twelve years ago, my reputation, legacy and family honour were almost destroyed on the basis of false information conveyed to the Swiss government.
Yup. That's our B2theM: classy-to-the-max!

Well, before I leave y'all to read the details, I want to take a sec to direct your attention to Impolitical and Curiosity Cat--they've done some truly excellent boiling-down to brass tacks, pointing out contradictions and sniffing out the more putrid or dodgy statements. Andrew Coyne had an impressive post about this, too. So...until February, eh? Think of teh kidz! ;)Photo credits: Icanhascheezburger (melodrama & cruel world)

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Schreiber's last stand: B-b-b-benoît and the Jets

Yes, it's your congenitally late Schreiber-blogger kitty, returning with her head hung in shame, as it's taken her far too long to organize her notes from Tuesday's proceedings. Yes, Karlheinz Schreiber returned to the Commons Ethics committee for the fourth time on Tuesday, Dec 11. As with the three previous meetings (Nov 29, Dec 4, and Dec 6), quote at your own risk ;) I hope you find these notes useful: I've added links to documents, articles and Schreiber's previous testimony.

If you're looking for proper live-blogging, look no further than Kady O'Malley's blog at Maclean's. The National Post's Jeremy Barker also did a wonderful job of blogging the hearing.

You can find my notes at my not-so-live-blog "Foul Deeds," in eight parts:
Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow...we get Mulroney!

Oh, shit. Just realized it's already Thursday morning. I'd better get to bed! Mulroney's up, avec famille, at 09.00h! Night night!

Photo credits: Stereogum.ca and Don Burleson blog. Don't worry! The pics will make more sense when you read the notes ;)

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gentlemen, you can't lie in here--this is the *Ethics* Committee!

Karlheinz Schreiber returned to the Commons Ethics committee for the third time on Thursday, December 6. While I can't fully explain it, Committee Chairman Paul Szabo is really starting to remind me of Peter Sellers' President Merkin Muffley character in Dr. Strangelove:

Ok, maybe it's just the baldness. I mean, he doesn't really say much of anything, but he does have to contend with the sputterings emanating from the CPC table. Does Vice-Chair Tilson remind me of General Buck Turgidson? *pffffft* Now that's a bit of a stretch...

Alright. A full 3 days later, your friendly neighbourhood kitty has finally gotten around to posting her notes from the hearing. As with the two previous meetings (Nov 29 and Dec 4), this is NOT a transcript, but I've done my best to annotate the notes with links to documents, articles and references to Schreiber's previous testimony. Again, I must be honest with you: if you're looking for true live-blogging, check out Kady O'Malley's blog at Maclean's or The National Post's Paige Aarhus. The committee itself hasn't posted the official transcript yet.

You can find my notes at my not-so-live-blog "Foul Deeds," in eight parts:
  • Part I: Who's Afraid of a Big, Bad Inquiry?
  • Part II: The Sweet Smell of Success Fees
  • Part III: What happens in Switzerland, stays in Switzerland
  • Part IV: Party Pooper
  • Part V: "Everybody wanted to get something"
  • Part VI: And if Brian asked you to jump off a bridge, would you do that, too?
  • Part VII: Bless this Mess
  • Part VIII: You can't lie to me--this is the Ethics Committee!
By this time, you've probably already heard about the so-called "smoking gun" letter that Schreiber wrote to Mulroney, particularly this bit:
I am prepared to disclose:
that you received payments from GCI, Frank Moores, Fred Doucet, Gary Ouellet, that I was asked by Fred Doucet to transfer funds to your Lawyer in Geneva, (Airbus) what the reason was for your trip to Zuerich in 1998, that you asked me through my lawyers to commit perjury to protect you, that you supported fraud related to the Thyssen project and more.
Pretty nasty, eh? Well, you can imagine that just about all of the hearing was devoted to teasing out more information about these "disclosures." The Cons were quick to point to Schreiber's July 2006 letter to Mulroney--yes, the glowing, obsequious letter that Schreiber swears was dictated to him by Elmer MacKay. The crux of Schreiber's defence here is that Mulroney demanded Schreiber sign MacKay's letter in exchange for getting PM Harper's help with KHS's rather persistent extradition problem. The Cons weren't buying that: both Wallace and Hiebert asked KHS why he would sign a letter that wasn't true.

Now, here's something I'm having a lotta trouble confirming/debunking: at one point, Dean Del Mastro (hear his mighty roar!!) tried to trap Schreiber into admitting that Pierre Bourque Sr (a Liberal! Gah!) owned GCI at the time that Schreiber was allegedly asked to direct money (from GCI) to Brian Mulroney. This would have been in the late 90s. Schreiber insisted that GCI was still under the control of the late Frank Moores, and didn't have any clue what Del Mastro was puffing and ranting about. Frankly, neither did I, so I did some lazy-Sunday searching and this is the best I could do:
  1. I couldn't confirm Del Mastro's allegation that Bourque Sr. owned GCI.
  2. I can find references to Bourque using GCI as a lobbying firm for his own developing company, but, at most, I think Bourque had partial ownership (this site refers to a Globe & Mail article hinting that Bourque was part-owner).
  3. Bourque Sr. was convicted on Jan 31, 2000 for tax-evasion:
What's unusual about this case is the source of the unreported income. It was paid to Bourque by GCI, a lobbying group with links to the conservative government of Brian Mulroney. It's also a company that was working for Bourque to secure the lease of an $80-million building constructed by the developer. [...] Pat MacAdam, a former friend of Brian Mulroney who worked for GCI, was paid $250,000 for successfully landing the lease. MacAdam was also convicted of income tax evasion for failing to report this income.
If anybody has any more information about this, please lemme know. I will update my site with a correction/addendum.

Oh! One more interesting thing that came totally outta the blue on Thursday: a little piece of disturbing Manitoba politics. NDP MP Pat Martin asked Schreiber about his correspondence with former Min. Justice Vic Toews. At first, I just figured that Martin was going to ask whether Schreiber was angry that Toews wasn't helping him with his extradition problem, but this took me completely by surprise:
Martin (NDP): is it possible that Vic Toews wanted you out of the country b/c there's some connection with what happened in Manitoba, with the overthrow of the NDP government?
Huh?! Well, I didn't have to look too far to find out what Martin was talking about:
Mr. Pawley was elected premier of Manitoba in 1981.

In 1988, his NDP government was enduring criticism for raising auto insurance premiums by 21% and barely had the numbers to pass its budget by a slim margin. But to general surprise, NDP MLA Jim Walding voted against it and brought down the government, after which Mr. Pawley resigned.

The NDP was reduced to 12 seats, while the Tories under Gary Filmon won a majority and ended up ruling Manitoba until 1999, though questions remained about the chain of events.

Mr. Walding subsequently bought a large home in British Columbia that some suggested exceeded his means. Mr. Walding, who died last April of cancer, always maintained he voted out of principle because he felt Pawley's government had lost touch with voters.


"This member had indicated that very day that he was going to support the budget, but when the actual vote came, to everyone's surprise, he voted against the budget."

Mr. Pawley, 73, will not speculate what might happen at hearings, but he said he hopes Mr. Schreiber will at least be forced to discuss the issue further. Was his government brought down by criminal means?
*shrug* Dunno if this will come to anything, but it's definitely curious, eh? Speaking of exotic animals not-found-in-my-guidebook, has anyone ever heard of Derek Haniford (sp?)? Martin asked Schreiber if he knew Haniford, and he denied it. Apparently he was the head of the Privatization Commission for the Manitoba Cons. Martin also wanted to know if Schreiber had heard of the "Prenor Trust Company" (he had not). As near as I can figgur, Prenor collapsed in 1993. I've absolutely no idea if/why that's germane to these hearings. But please dish if you know something, okay?

So, my pretties, we wait...Schreiber returns again on Tuesday, Dec 11, and Mulroney is tentatively scheduled to bring his Big Sack o' Umbrage with him on Thursday.

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Red Roses on White Snow

Across the country, Canadians took a moment to remember the 14 women killed at l’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989:

Anne St-Arneault, 23
Geneviève Bergeron, 21
Hélène Colgan, 23
Nathalie Croteau, 23
Barbara Daigneault, 22
Anne-Marie Edward, 21
Maud Haviernick, 29
Barbara Klueznick, 31
Maryse Laganière, 25
Maryse Leclair, 23
Anne-Marie Lemay, 22
Sonia Pelletier, 23
Michèle Richard, 21
Annie Turcotte, 21

In my travels, I've been privileged to attend Dec 6th memorials at three different Universities. While I am not an engineer myself, I have always been impressed by the engineering students who organize these vigils. I am especially touched by the growing numbers of male students who attend and don the white ribbon--pledging to "never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls."

There are so many ways to honour, to grieve, and to remember our lost sisters. Candles, roses, or even a simple moment of silence. Just this morning, I was thinking about the first time I attended a ceremony at McMaster, last December. Fourteen red-roses were laid before the commemorative stone in front of the Engineering building ("JHE" as it's known). I remembered that I'd wished I'd had a photo of the roses. Today I remembered my camera:

My beautiful sisters: I wish I could find the words to honour you properly. Please know that you are not forgotten.

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Wash me, but don't make me wet"--Schreiber returns!

Karlheinz Schreiber returned to the Commons Ethics committee on Tuesday--avec ses notes! (video here). My husband and I are still sharing one measly computer, so I didn't have an opportunity to post my notes from Tuesday until now. This is NOT a transcript, but I feel that it's important to archive them here for future reference. Again, I must be honest with you: if you're looking for true live-blogging, replete with witty running commentary, look no further than Kady O'Malley's blog at Maclean's. The National Post's Paige Aarhus also did a wonderful job of blogging the hearing. The closest thing that I can find to a 'proper' transcript is here, at David Akin's site.

You can find my notes at my not-so-live-blog "Foul Deeds," in eight parts:
  • Part I: Canada, the Trojan Horse
  • Part II: To Sir, With Love
  • Part III: Saudis, Pasta, and the Unstoppable Kim Campbell
  • Part IV: 'Helpful Donations' and that Dirty, Dirty Liberal Airline
  • Part V: Hey, why don't you look at the documents?!
  • Part VI: "Wash me, but don't make me wet"
  • Part VII: Mike Wallace plays Matlock
  • Part VIII: Fellas, please! It's really hard to hear with all this Conservapoo flying around
(Last Thursday's notes can be found here, beginning with Part I)

Some passing thoughts on Tuesday's "Christmas" presents: they went over like a lead balloon! In fact, I'd wager that the only people who were pleased with these 'revelations' were the BQ and their provincial counterparts (Oooh! Charest!). And, FWIW, Charest is denying that he received $30 000 from Schreiber to finance his 1993 PC leadership campaign.

The HarperCons squirmed and agitated throughout Tuesday's proceedings, but overall, they seemed right pleased with themselves. The smarmy Del Mastro tried to leave us with the impression that the Airbus deal was just good business. Y'know...bizness. Wallace, last seen getting booed at the Toronto vigil for Robert Dziekanski, made a total arse of himself, interrupting and barking legal-ish objections towards the end of the hearing. Wallace was irritated that Schreiber said he'd received assurances from Mulroney that Harpo was on-side (to intervene in Schreiber's extradition).

Mulcair and Martin continued to play tag-team on the NDP side of the committee, but it was much smoother than Thursday's go-round. Martin has a problem, constantly playing for the camera...he wears a permanently aggrieved look and tends to repeat phrases like, "Bags of cash!" By contrast, Mulcair was the consummate professional and conducted his line of questioning very efficiently, even eliciting the secondary 'bomblet-shell' of the afternoon: Schreiber claimed that the RCMP never questioned him about the Airbus affair. (The Mounties deny this, btw).

The Grits (Dhaliwal, Goodale-sub-for-Thibault and Hubbard) were fairly single-minded: they wanted to know about Schreiber's correspondence with Harper and the father/son MacKays. That's all well and good, but sooner or later we have to find out about that $2.1 Million defamation settlement we gave to Mulroney. Y'know...like, why? Anyone? Bueller...Bueller...

The committee adjourned on Tues afternoon to review the boxes & boxes of Schreiber-lit. They're supposed to return on Thursday, having actually read some of it, although judging from this crew, I wouldn't expect much. Would it be too much to ask to get the 5th Estate guys to ask the questions? Aaaaaarggghhhh.

Read on, MacDuff!