Sunday 6 June 2010

Is Brian Mulroney a political scumbag?

On the 17th of January 2006, a World Economic Forum survey that was called the ‘Voice of the People’ carried out by Gallup International made grim reading for the world’s leaders, particularly its politicians. Almost 50,000 people in over 60 countries across the world were interviewed in November and December 2005. The findings represent the views of more than 2 billion citizens. The survey showed that 50% of the respondents stated that political leaders are dishonest.

Japan, Peru, Thailand, the United States, Italy, Liberia, are just a few of many nations where dishonest leaders ruled. Africans were the most critical of their politicians” with 81% calling political leaders dishonest vs 60% of East Europeans (81% in Serbia alone).

Plutarch said; “There is no more perfect endowment in man than political virtue.”

All politicians leave mixed legacies. Canadian prime ministers have left contradictory images. John A. MacDonald is remembered as the nation-building alcoholic. Mackenzie King, as the great compromiser who talked to spirits and his dog. But perhaps no leader has left such a smear on his legacy as Canada’s prime minister than Brian Mulroney, Canada’s eighteenth prime minister.

He was born on March 20, 1939 and was Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993 and was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1983 to 1993. His tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the introduction of highly contentious economic reforms, such as the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the Goods and Services Tax, and the failure of equally contentious constitutional reforms through the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. Prior to his political career, he was a prominent lawyer and businessman in Montreal.

He was not generally accepted by Canadians as really being a good prime minister. In fact, many believe (and I include myself also in this belief) that he was the worst prime minister that Canada ever had.

But as his government lurched along, more and more of Mulroney’s friends/associates/supporters became implicated in financial and other patronage scandals. There was a strong sense that his government and party reflected Mulroney’s strong sense of personal bonds and friendship, but lacked a moral compass, and it was easy to conclude that this also reflected the true nature of Brian Mulroney. By 1993, it was increasingly held by many Canadians that Brian Mulroney was highly indifferent to the appearance of financial propriety and, even if not personally “on the take” --- notwithstanding possibly that the most libellous book ever published in Canada exposed Mulroney as a taker of outright bribes. Mulroney incidentally didn’t sue the author or the publisher of the book which leads its readers to believe that the book’s allegations were justified.

His downfall; that is his reputation has been dashed to the ground and nothing he or his spin doctors can do will ever put his concept of his legacy back together again. History will simply sweep his reputation to the gutter like street sweepers sweep away garbage. Regardless of what happens now, Brian Mulroney's credibility and reputation is totally shattered. Given the very best spin available, Mulroney's dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber (the German tax evader) were tawdry. Ex-prime ministers shouldn’t be lying under oath, secretly accepting $225,000 in cash in grocery bags from a felon like Schreiber, hiding it in his home, not declaring it as taxable income until his conduct is discovered and not doing anything for the money he received and then expect to walk away from this as looking like an honest politician.

Here is the scenario of his latest debacle.

The RCMP wanted to check Swiss banks to see if he might have an account associated with the Airbus scandal in which Karlheinz Schreiber was up to his neck in it. Mulroney sued the RCMP for libel over the letter they sent to Swiss banks giving their reasons for suspecting Mulroney. They suspected him of wrongdoings because they believed that he and Schreiber were close and involved in the scandal. During the course of Mulroney's lawsuit against the RCMP, while under oath, he was examined for discovery. Here is what Mulroney said on being questioned on April 17, 1996 (remember the date):

Question: "Did you maintain contact with Mr. Schreiber after you ceased being Prime Minister?"

Mulroney replied, "Well, from time to time, not very often. When he was going through Montreal, he would give me a call. We would have a cup of coffee, I think, once or twice when he's on his way to Montreal. He called me and asked me and I say perhaps once or twice, if I could come to a cup . . . have a cup of coffee, with him at a hotel. I think I had one in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel with him. I had one in the coffee bar at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel."

That evidence is untrue and it had a profound effect on the outcome of his suit. Given the true relationship between Mulroney and Schreiber, and the fact that during that time, Mulroney received from Schreiber, three envelopes containing at least $225,000 in cash, no judge would have denied the right, indeed obligation, of the RCMP to canvas Swiss banks for Mulroney accounts.

Many people believe that three lots of $100,000 in cash were paid to Mulroney by Schreiber in 1993 and 1994 as claimed by Schreiber yet under oath on April 17, 1996, Mulroney denied having anything but a casual relationship with Schreiber after he left office. Even if he only received a total of $225,000 as he claims, that hardly constitutes a casual relationship with Schreiber.

Had Mulroney admitted under oath that he indeed was very close to Schreiber and in fact had received $225,000 in cash from him in the previous couple of years, his case would have ended right there and then and he wouldn't have received a settlement of $2.1 million taxpayer’s money to pay his lawyers and also receive an apology from the RCMP.

Mulroney's sworn testimony is prima facie evidence of perjury, which is a serious crime. Courts cannot make proper decisions if witnesses aren't truthful. Sometimes untruthfulness is accidental, due to forgetfulness. But can anyone believe that Mr. Mulroney on April 17, 1996, had forgotten that he'd received at least $225,000 two years before? That amount of money in three lumps of cash in bags came to him at a time when, so he said, he was virtually broke and needed money badly for his wife and kids? If that was true, then why didn’t he put the money in the bank? The reason is obvious. If he had, there would be a paper trail in which he would have to explain where it began. Further, he would have had to pay taxes on the money and this too was not what he wanted to avoid doing.

Many Canadians see Brian Mulroney as a crook. The image of Mulroney as crook has several facets. Early rumours focused on personal spending and things that seem almost petty and quaint by later standards, like shoe closets and unnecessary renovations at 24 Sussex.

It took until late 2007, right after the publication of his memoirs, for new revelations about his Schreiber payments, the rendering of taxes on them, and their precise relationship, for the general public to see the true image of Mulroney as really is; a crook. This created new types of crook-images: Mulroney as tax evader and deadbeat since it would appear that Mulroney did nothing for the money and failed to pay it back to Schreiber and a liar who perjured himself under oath. By late 2007, Brian Mulroney possibly went deeper and lower than ever before. He became known as the prime minister who dealt in cash for dubious assignments with unscrupulous people, skirting conflicts of interest and tax laws along the way.

Then he really did something really stupid. On November 12, 2007, this fool was dumb enough to demand a full public inquiry to clear his name. Surely he must have realized that the public hearing would do him more harm than good. His wish for a public hearing was granted. It did him in.

A Royal Commission was created to look into the financial dealings of Mulroney and Schreiber in relation to a proposed armoured-vehicle factory in Nova Scotia, and the payments made by Schreiber to Mr. Mulroney in 1993 and 1994. (Schreiber was trying to persuade the Canadian government to accept proposals on behalf of Thyssen of Germany to establish a plant that would manufacture vehicles in Bear Head, Nova Scotia. Schreiber believed he stood to gain a commission of $1.8-billion had Ottawa approved the project.) All told, there were more than a dozen issues the Commission was to look over. The hearings were presided over by Justice Jeffrey Oliphant.

The hearings were shown in part of TV and many Canadians were glued to their TV sets as they watched Schreiber and Mulroney do their acts. Schreiber said he paid three payments on separate occasions in cash to Mulroney with sums of $100,000 each and Mulroney admitted he got three sums of cash by Schreiber but they only totaled $225,000.

One of the questions asked at the hearing was; what was the nature of the relationship between Mr. Mulroney and Schreiber while the former was serving as prime minister?

Mulroney said that when he was prime minister between 1984 and 1993, "meetings were held between and Schreiber during the early years of his tenure. He said that those meetings were held infrequently, not as previously described by Schreiber. He also said that as the frequency of the meetings increased, Schreiber came to believe that he and Mulroney had become friends. Mr. Justice Oliphant in his report said in part; “My perspective of the relationship is markedly different. To put it bluntly, I hold the view that Mr. Schreiber is deluding himself if he believes Mr. Mulroney was ever a close friend." However, he did add; "Mr. Schreiber nevertheless succeeded in gaining a remarkable degree of access to Mr. Mulroney....I find that the degree of access to Mr. Mulroney enjoyed by Mr. Schreiber was, in and of itself, both excessive and inappropriate."

The Judge also said in his report; "Mr. Mulroney, an intelligent sophisticated businessperson, had to recognize Mr. Schreiber was trying to manipulate him. I respectfully suggest that Mr. Mulroney could simply have said no. I find that Mr. Mulroney could have and should have brought---but did not bring---an end to the inappropriate, excessive access granted to Mr. Schreiber."

On looking into the matter as to how much money Schreiber gave to Mr. Mulroney, he said, “I have carefully considered the evidence representing the amount of cash paid by Mr. Schreiber to Mr. Mulroney. I have decided not to accept the evidence of either of them.”

It could be cause of one of two reasons. The first one being that both appear to be telling the truth and it is difficult to decide which story to believe. The second reason is more likely to be the real reason. The judge by now would have realized that Mulroney lied under oath at the Air Bus matter and Schreiber was a wanted felon in Germany. Mr. Mulroney said $225,000; Schreiber said $300,000. Lacking evidence, Justice Oliphant declined to rule on the dollar amount.

The next question that the judge had to ask himself was; “Was it acceptable for Mulroney to accept payments in cash for whatever it was he agreed to?”

His response was; “No it wasn’t. The payments were made in cash as part of a scheme on the part of both Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney to avoid creating a paper trail."

The money was socked away in safety deposit boxes and a safe in Mr. Mulroney's house. Reasonable people could conclude, as do I, that something was amiss. It seems to me that given Mr. Mulroney's background, education, experience and business acumen, his every instinct would have been and should have been to document the transaction. There was more than one option open to Mr. Mulroney. I therefore conclude the reason Mr. Schreiber made the payments in cash and Mr. Mulroney accepted them in cash was that they both wanted to conceal the fact that the transactions had occurred between them."

Did the two men reach some sort of deal while Mr. Mulroney was still serving as prime minister? Justice Oliphant found no evidence of one.

What about after Mr. Mulroney stepped down?

“He and Schrieber reached some sort of retainer agreement at the CP Hotel in Mirabel when the two men met alone there in August 1993--when Mr. Mulroney was still a member of Parliament. Determining the nature of the relationship was fraught with difficulty...the agreement was not memorialized or documented in any way whatsoever."
Mulroney should not have entered into any retainer agreement with Schreiber while he was sitting in parliament as a member. It conflicted with Mulroney’s own rules of ethics.

Ultimately, what was Justice Oliphant's finding with regard to the relationship between Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber? In his report, he said;

"In my view, legitimate questions as to the propriety of what Mr. Mulroney was doing would have arisen in the mind of any reasonable, informed, objective observer. Even Mr. Mulroney conceded that point while testifying before me. I find, applying Mr. Mulroney's own test, that his business dealings were not appropriate. The business and financial dealings between Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney were inappropriate. I also found that Mr. Mulroney's failure to disclose those business and financial dealings was

Schreiber sued Mulroney for the money back but I don’t know how far that case will go since Schreiber is serving a sentence of eight years in a German prison for tax evasion.

I think that the federal government should sue Mulroney for the $2.1 million taxpayer’s money that he shouldn’t have received plus the interest that has accrued since the day he received it.

Like Presidents Nixon and Clinton who left nasty indelible smudges on their reputations, Mulroney may also bounce back to some degree but history will show that whereas Nixon was dishonest and Clinton cheated on his wife, Mulroney will be remembered as a crook.

To answer the question I raised in the heading of this article, “Is Mulroney a dishonest scumbag?” The answer to that question is no different than if I answered the question, “Is the pope Catholic?”

1 comment:

PureNrg said...

Thank you for this write up! I agree with this 100%, the man was a crook and used his knowledge as a lawyer and business man ,to find ways to defraud and cheat the canadian people over and over again.

We have TV shows here that has that crooks son as a host, How does a no talent individual like his son, get a position like that over 100 more than qualified other individuals?
Mulroney`s crooked ways, paved the way for his offsprings well being built on criminal activities..