The following is a conclusion of the Report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, found on page 29 of the report
Airbus Libel Case Settlement
The Opposition insisted that as part of our study we examine the Airbus Libel case settlement between Mr. Mulroney and the former Liberal Government. As Allan Rock, Minister of Justice at the time of the settlement testified before us, the now public information about the business relationship between Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber, while it could have impacted the terms of the settlement, did not change the essential reason for the decision to settle.
Mr. Rock testified, “The advice I had from the department, with which I agreed, was that the gist of the reason we apologized to Mr. Mulroney was the language used in the letter of request, and if you read that language, you’ll see it was conclusory. It asserts as a matter of fact that there was criminal activity. That’s why an apology was given.” Further, he testified, “…regarding who is responsible for the $2.1 million, the government acknowledged that the letter should not have been sent in that language. It was the language used that was the essential harm here, and it was for that reason we apologized and agreed to pay
Given that a decade-long RCMP investigation into the Airbus purchase which proceeded well past the date of the libel settlement found no evidence of criminal wrong-doing, and given the lack of any new evidence before our Committee, it must be concluded that the settlement reached with Mr. Mulroney was appropriate.
The following was published in the June 2, 2010 edition of The National Post
The witch hunt against the 18th prime minister of Canada — the “Airbus affair” — is over (perhaps). And the people who tried for a quarter of a century to find Brian Mulroney guilty of heinous corruption have failed. Meanwhile, this wild goose chase has cost $30-million of public money and consumed huge quantities of political oxygen, often suffocating more vital matters.
Airbus has been probed by the RCMP (twice), by the CBC (for 15 years), by the House of Commons Ethics Committee and by the $16-million Justice Jeffrey Oliphant Commission. At times, Mulroney’s treatment has descended into a public degradation ritual. But all this rage and spending has produced little more than Oliphant’s finding that Mulroney’s conduct was “inappropriate” for a former prime minister. When the dust settles, historians will call the Airbus affair, “The Mouse that Roared.”
Il y a 25 ans aujourd’hui, j`étais assermenté comme 18ième Premier Ministre du Canada, à l`issue d`une élection historique.
Cette victoire avait été rendue possible grâce au travail acharné de tous ceux qui sont réunis ici ce soir, de même que de milliers d’autres à travers le pays— ces collègues et amis à qui je transmets en votre nom un message de gratitude et de loyauté indéfectible.
I convey to you all my enduring gratitude for your support, loyalty and friendship. You made it possible. You made it happen and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Only 22 people in the 142 year history of this magnificent country have held the title of Prime Minister. To have been elected and re-elected to the position with majority governments is a rare privilege and high honour. I am pleased to tell you what I suspect you already know: none of this would have been possible for me without the love, encouragement and support of Mila and the children all of whom, I am thrilled to point out, are with me here tonight.
Once you leave you tend not to miss much about active politics. But I can tell you that the part of political life I miss most of all is my caucus. I loved them all and deeply respected their sacrifice and admired their commitment. Their preoccupations become my priorities. So every Wednesday I witnessed a microcosm of Canada – replete with challenges, and achievements, tensions and dreams – as I watched men and women from vastly different regions, backgrounds and languages struggling to understand each other’s views while seeking to harmonize their differences into coherent national policy. Those moments exemplified for me the very essence of Parliamentary democracy and the splendor of a commitment to Canada.
We gathered to consider the great issues on our agenda, from the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and Nafta to the GST, from Meech Lake to the Gulf war, from the creation of La Francophonie to the fight against apartheid in South Africa and the fight for the Canada-US acid rain agreement; from the abolition of the National Energy Program in the west to the creation of Nunavut in Canada’s north to the Atlantic
I knew Doug for over fifty years and always enjoyed our time together. He became the respected dean of the Press Gallery after his career in politics as a result of his incredible capacity for hard work, his keen appreciation of history and his intelligence. He will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to his family and children.
Friends and supporters will gather September 17 at Le Centre Sheraton Hotel Montreal to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the swearing in of The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney’s first majority government. Cabinet ministers from both the Mulroney and Harper governments will be present for the celebration.
This event is co-chaired by Premier Jean Charest and Ambassador Michael Wilson, who both served as cabinet ministers in the Mulroney government. In addition to the more than forty former ministers of the Mulroney governments, a number of current federal cabinet ministers are scheduled to attend, including:
- The Honourable Jim Flaherty
- The Honourable Peter MacKay
- The Honourable Lawrence Cannon
- The Honourable John Baird
- The Honourable Tony Clement
- The Honourable Jim Prentice
- The Honourable Christian Paradis
- The Honourable Rob Nicholson
- The Honourable Greg Thompson
- The Honourable Lisa Raitt
- The Honourable Joseé Verner
- The Honourable Bev Oda
- The Honourable Rona Ambrose
- The Honourable Diane Ablonczy
- The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn
- The Honourable Jay Hill
- The Honourable Denis Lebel
- The Honourable Gary Lunn
- The Honourable Peter Kent
- The Honourable Rob Merrifield
- The Honourable Keith AshfieldLaureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who is in Washington DC and New York and unable to attend) is also scheduled to be in attendance.
When: Thursday, September 17, 2009.
Doors open to the public at 5.30 p.m. Program will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel Ballroom
1201 Boulevard René-Lévesque West, Montreal
Media: Doors will open for media accreditation at 4:30 p.m.
Ballroom will open for media at 5:00 p.m.
For more information and/or media accreditation please contact:
The greatest election victory in Canadian history took place on September 4, 1984, 25 years ago today. In his first national campaign, a year after his election as leader, Brian Mulroney led the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to a landslide, winning 211 out of 282 seats. The party won the support of a majority of all Canadian voters, and elected MPs in every single province and territory, an achievement never attained before or since. The campaign was seen by commentators as a referendum on the generation of Liberal leadership, as a reaction to a singularly ineffective campaign by new Liberal leader John Turner, and a response to Mulroney’s promise of Canadian unity and economic change. The campaign featured one of the most powerful moments in Canadian political debate history in the confrontation between Turner and Mulroney over patronage. Pleading that he had no choice but to approve a wave of eleventh hour patronage appointments by the outgoing Trudeau government, Turner set himself up for attack. Many observers believe that the election turned on Mulroney’s response as he wheeled on Turner with pointed finger and declared angrily, “You had an option, sir. You could have said, ‘I am not going to do it. This is wrong for Canada’…you could have done better.” A little more than a month after that fateful night Canadians elected what would become the longest serving Conservative administration since that of Sir John A. Macdonald.
From today’s Ottawa Sun:
When I look back at Brian Mulroney’s roller-coaster life since his 1993 resignation, I think of phrases from Francis Thompson’s poem The Hound of Heaven.
Brian has been hounded by malicious innuendos “down the nights and down the days….down the arches of the years; down the labyrinthine ways.”
We have been friends since September 1955, at St. F.X. He was Brian or “Bones.” When he was sworn in as prime minister 29 years later, he became “Sir” or “Prime Minister” — as a mark of respect. He still has that respect.
One of his cardinal virtues is he has always been there for family and friends. When his father died, he became the breadwinner for his mother and brother and sisters.
He ensured his mother was comfortable in an apartment in the Gleneagles, up the hill from Sherbrooke St.
After his leadership loss in 1976, he had his pick of senior positions — Standard Brands, NHL presidency, et al. When he shook the plum tree, Iron Ore Company of Canada was his choice.
I sometimes ask myself why he would want to leave IOC for politics. When he cut his deal with Iron Ore, Bob Anderson, IOC’s chairman, asked if there was “anything else.”
Brian’s answer was that every director around the boardroom table was a millionaire and he would like to be one too.
I have no idea what his salary was at IOC but I suspect he took a 50%-75% cut to serve as PM. At IOC, he had a private air force — a seven-passenger DeHavilland 127 jet, an executive Viscount and a fleet of other prop planes.
He had memberships in exclusive clubs and access to a smashing trout fishing camp in Labrador, accessible only by floatplanes. The camp had two guides on staff and their wives provided us with gourmet meals.
He was the toast of Montreal. One day, Brian, MP Bob Coates and I walked into the Beaver Club at the Queen E. and every head in the room snapped up.
At a Toronto fundraiser for Claude Bennett, he joked he was in politics for “the recognition.” He said it was an exhilarating feeling to walk through a hotel lobby, see heads turn and hear people say: “There goes Bryce Malooney.”
Four years later, in 1980, we were in Bucharest, Romania, pitching iron ore pellets and concentrates at the invitation of Nicolae Ceaucescu. Our 20-minute audience stretched beyond an hour.
Ceaucescu said: “Mr. Mulroney, when Richard Nixon was here, he was in disgrace. He lost the presidency to John Kennedy and California governor to Pat Brown. He sat in that very chair you are sitting in. He didn’t give up. Don’t you give up either. Mr. Mulroney.”
Two years ago, Brian and I were in a limo in New York. He was taking a shuttle to Washington to have breakfast with Sen. Ted Kennedy and I was returning to Ottawa.
He mused, wistfully, “New York is my town.”
I can understand why Caroline, Ben, Mark and Nicholas attended American colleges but I always thought Brian and Mila would move to New York because most of Brian’s professional life was in the U.S.
I was with him in New York when he delivered a speech to a packed audience of agri-bankers in the Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center. It was a balmy evening. I dismissed our driver and we walked five blocks back to the St. Regis Hotel.
Every 10 feet some smiling person who wanted to shake his hand stopped us.
“Who are these people, Brian? Canadians?”
“How do they recognize you?”
“Don’t forget, J.P., I was prime minister for nine years and I delivered the eulogy at Ronald Reagan’s funeral.”
I was tempted to say “maybe they mistook your chin for Jay Leno’s,” but I didn’t want to rain on his Fifth Avenue parade.
Back in the hotel, he fielded phone calls from Condoleezza Rice and Ted Kennedy. Then, he asked me if I had seen the New York Times that day. There was an article about a blue-chip committee of 30 former U.S. presidents, senators and governors past and present and leading Fortune 500 CEOs formed to raise money for a 9/11 memorial.
The names of Martin Brian Mulroney and a British peer were the only non-Americans on the list of 30.
I was with him in Washington for a speech to a roomful of pension fund managers — clients of the Thayer Group. There was probably $300 billion-$500 billion in the room.
William Cohen, Thayer’s chairman, mayor of Bangor, Maine congressman, senator and former secretary of defence, introduced Brian. I was stunned by the powerful introduction. I looked over to make sure Brian hadn’t passed away between the soup and the salad and Bill was delivering his eulogy.
Next up was Thayer director Jack Kemp, Buffalo Bills quarterback, congressman, cabinet secretary, vice-presidential candidate. He out-did Bill Cohen praising Brian. Then came President George Bush the elder’s campaign manager, Frank Zerbe, another Thayer director. He left Cohen and Kemp behind with his eloquent praise. My head would have exploded.
I will never know why Brian didn’t move to New York to soar with the eagles instead of remaining in Canada to walk among the turkeys at the Oliphant inquiry.
The comparisons in the Canadian media between Brian Mulroney’s appearance at the Oliphant Commission and Richard Nixon’s encounter with David Frost are almost entirely unfounded. Nixon had a more tenuous claim to innocence of wrongdoing, and although the interviews were sold as “the only trial Nixon will ever face,” he was not a sworn witness.
It is scandalous that Brian Mulroney is still being harassed over these accusations, 17 years after leaving office. He has acknowledged that it was not an image-building act to accept suitcases of cash, and to be late declaring them on his income tax return. But he had left office and there has never been any evidence that he did anything inappropriate to promote the unlikely “Bear Head” project being championed by his financial benefactor, Karlheinz Schreiber.
The Canadian government should not have been manipulated into public hearings by an amiable scoundrel like Schreiber, and Stephen Harper should not have alienated the sizeable number of Conservatives who support and admire the former leader. He was a very competent prime minister, and was the first Conservative leader since Sir John A. Macdonald to win two consecutive majority governments, and to defeat the Liberals in Quebec. (I discount Sir Robert L. Borden, who led a coalition to re-election in 1917, and John Diefenbaker, whose 50 Quebec MPs in 1958 were an outright gift from premier Maurice Duplessis.)
Publicly telling caucus members not to speak with a former prime minister of their own party is pretty shabby and ungrateful treatment of someone who deserves every presumption of legal, if not optically impeccable, conduct.
The Schreiber saga is an entertaining farce, orchestrated by his resourceful lawyer, Eddie Greenspan, as he recovered Schreiber from the airport where a platoon of Mounted Police were about to put him on an airplane to Germany after his last appeal was rejected. The government had to avoid seeming to deport an accuser of a former prime minister, but all these matters should have been, and I presume, were, dealt with by normal police investigations. So the government could (and should) have just released the police report without comment, conducted Schreiber to his reluctant homecoming and spared Brian Mulroney a sequel of the disgraceful Airbus persecution.
This seems to be the kernel of the problem, a demented insistence that the money from Schreiber had to do with Airbus. I am not an expert on this case, but I have heard of no evidence of that, and
Schreiber is certainly imaginative enough to claim it if he could. The Airbus allegation was a partisan smear job in which the federal police were effectively directed by a gonzo Globe and Mail reporter. Brian Mulroney was quite right not to volunteer anything about Schreiber to the government’s lawyers. He was answering hostile questions about Airbus from people desperately trying to justify the government’s false accusation that he had taken a bribe. He was not giving a stream-of-consciousness musing on his career with confessional overtones, and Justice Oliphant’s question about why he did not reveal the Schreiber connection to his interrogators was bizarre. The answer is obvious and there is nothing wrong with it.
There are many more losers than winners at the inquiry into former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber.
The list of losers start with Brian Mulroney, battered and bruised after 15 years of attacks on his personal integrity in books, on TV and in parliamentary committees. None of it has to do with his time in office so it is not a probe of his policies while prime minister.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a loser because he launched the inquiry and commanded his caucus members not to speak to Brian Mulroney. Treating Mulroney as an outcast angered many of his MPs and in doing that, Harper made an enemy of Mulroney and damaged his own position as Conservative party leader..
The media is a loser for printing articles or broadcasting stories whose sole aim was to bring down Mulroney whether or not the evidence justified the charges. The media will print a correction from time to time, but will rarely admit when they are wrong.
Elected officials in Canada are losers. They include cabinet ministers in Ottawa and the provinces, mayors of small communities, school board members, anyone who wants to serve the public good in government. The hounding Mulroney received will scare away bright and ambitious people from serving in these positions.
The Canadian people are losers because they paid millions of dollars for inquiries and parliamentary hearings where the same questions are asked and the answers offer almost no new information.
The only winners are the opposition Liberal, New Democratic and Bloc parties who will take advantage of the split in the Conservatives at the next election. Whether or not they organized the 15-year-long vendetta against Mulroney, they are taking full advantage of Mulroney’s troubles to win votes.
Mulroney has his faults, like all of us. He is loyal to his friends who often got him into trouble. He enjoys friends who are rich which he is not. It is difficult to compete with them on a prime minister’s pension.
The fuss over the federal government’s payment of former prime minister *Brian* *Mulroney*’s $2 million in legal fees arising from the Oliphant inquiry is misplaced.
A public inquiry is a massive undertaking. A judge presides over it, but under him or her is a wide array of lawyers and researchers digging into files and conducting tough cross-examinations of the subjects of the inquiry, who are often former senior office holders like Mulroney. Furthermore, it is not a trial (Mulroney stands accused of no crime) but a search for information. The conclusions drawn from the inquiry are generally political (whom to blame) or policy-oriented (how to avoid a reoccurrence). It is only right, then, that the government pay the legal expenses of the subjects of the inquiry, both to protect their interests and to assist in the fact-finding.
There is also ample precedent for this. For example, the legal fees racked up by former prime minister Jean Chretien during the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal were paid by the government.
So, too, were former premier Mike Harris’ fees during the Ipperwash inquiry.