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.


Blogger berlynn said...

GODAMMIT! Kitty, yer damned good! w00t! Thanks for all the info.

12/10/2007 2:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work, Kitteh! Thank you so much.

12/10/2007 5:28 AM  

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