Thursday, November 01, 2007

Is Harper Running Interference for Mulroney?

A Perfect Pair

Isn't it curious how the far right - the Bushies and Harpos - beat their chest at every opportunity about law and order but ignore the whole thing when the finger points to their own?

Bush has been positively serene about billions of dollars of misappropriation and fraud by his handpicked contractors in Iraq. Not fazed at all. It's hard to tell if our own Harper is playing the same "cops 'n robbers" game because he's so fiercely secretive but CBC's Fifth Estate gave one example last night of a prominent Tory badly deserving investigation, Harper's own pal and confidante, Brian ("Britan") Mulroney.

What's so infuriating is that the investigation ought to be simple. Someone steered Air Canada away from Boeing and got the airline to buy 34-Airbus jetliners instead. Air Canada specified a strictly "no commission" deal. Airbus still paid about $20-million to a Mulroney insider, Karlheinz Schreiber. Maybe the money wasn't commissions after all. In fact, Schreiber describes it as "schmeergelder" or grease money - bribes.

Facing deportation to Germany on charges of bribery of government officials and tax evasion, Schreiber told CBC that he's willing to reveal where all that money went, just who got the Airbus bribe money.

We know that Mulroney got $300,000 of the Airbus money from Schreiber although that, of itself, doesn't prove he had anything to do with steering the order to Europe. Thanks to what the Fifth Estate revealed last night, we now know that Mulroney went to extraordinary lengths to keep the fact of the payments from getting out. We also know that, when proof of the payments did come out several years later, Mulroney abruptly decided to claim he'd earned the money and rushed off to declare it as unreported income to Revenue Canada before he could be charged with tax offences. We also know that Mulroney - and his aides - repeatedly and persistently lied about his relationship with Schreiber, the man convicted in Germany of bribing officials in the Kohl government.

This thing smells to high heaven, way up there among the stars. Stephen Harper knows that Canada deserves some long overdue straight talk from his mentor, Mulroney. Harper knows that getting to the bottom of this Airbus bribery business finally ought to be possible. So what's Harpo going to do?

My guess is that Stevie is going to run interference for his newfound pal and ship Schreiber out to Germany where he can die in a prison cell, taking all his dirty secrets with him if only for want of the telling. The whole business will die a slow death and be forgotten.

The Fifth Estate has thrown down the gauntlet. Either Harper acts or else he can join the likes of Schreiber, Moores and Mulroney and take his own place in the Airbus scandal.


Unknown said...

While the payment to Mulroney reeks, it's a nice bit of fiction to claim that Air Canada was steered away from Boeing to Airbus. At that time, Boeing didn't have a plane with the size/range characteristics of the Boeing 727-200ADV which Air Canada forward-sold to Federal Express. It was offering the Boeing 737-300, which lacked the range capabilities of the 727 which weren't even great but at least plane could manage Toronto-Vancouver nonstop. Boeing also offered the larger 757 and 767, but they were simply too large for Air Canada which was buying a mid-size aircraft with a 130-seat capacity similar to the 727.

Airbus offered the perfect aircraft: A new technology 130-seater with range to do routes like Montreal-Vancouver or Toronto-Los Angeles with ease.

Air Canada's decision was obvious, and it was the right one. CP Air, soon to become Canadian Airlines, also went for the A320 for the same logical reasons. Several Canadian charter carriers opted for Airbus over Boeing products : think Transat, Skyservice and Canada 3000. Boeing just didn't have the right plane for a country like Canada which can't support a lot of service with the larger, 200 seat aircraft.

Years later, after Airbus had sold A320 family aircraft to several U.S. carriers, Boeing corrected its error by development the 737NG series which had the right capacity and range for the Canadian market, and Westjet's entire fleet is 737NG.

So whatever reason the $300,000 ended up in Brian Mulroney's pocket, it had no influence on Air Canada's choice.

Anonymous said...

It's a big stretch to say that Mulroney is Harper's mentor. Harper quit the PC party over Mulroney's policies. He then joined the reform party and ran against the PC party candidate and won the seat the second time around. That was of course only one of the seats lost that obliterated Mulroney's government. You'll have better luck trying to link Harper to John A.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, Anon, but you - and Harper -can't dodge that one. Harper chose Mulroney as lead dog of his transition team. He gave Lyin' Brian a big wet one from the very start of his administration (even well before that). They've been in almost daily communication ever since and have made regular public appearances together. Mulroney is very much Harper's rabbi. You may not like that but that doesn't change anything.

Anonymous said...

So what?

The may be friends now but they certainly were not back in the 90's when the alleged illegal actions of Mulroney took place. I doubt that Harper is stupid enough to let himself get dragged into it. You're trying to paint this as some kind of Harper scandal, good luck with that.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, anon, but they're plenty more than 'friends' and what happened back in the 90's is just now coming out. Harper is the one to direct a public inquiry into Schreiber and the schmeergelder, including the hunk of it that found its way into BM's pocket and that puts him in a pretty obvious conflict of interest. The scandal is if Harper assists those who got the Airbus grease money by getting rid of Schreiber before he can talk. No getting around that one, not even for a Harpocrite.

burlivespipe said...

Harper has also recently appointed a good ol' Tory stooge to head up the RcMp and coicidentally, the file on the Mulrooney investigation was closed. What a coinkidink!
Harper's gone to great lengths to try and rehabilitate Muldoom's rep, while hiring a big bag of CON bloggers to tippy-canoe polls on Canada's Worst Canadian just to slag the Liberals. Rewriting history is tough work, and very difficult when you've got a minority. But they've expended a lot of energy in keeping everythig on the Q-T. They have had their fingers caught already -- and just 21 months as gov't! -- in the doorjam and will one day soon see the story stick.

Firewater said...

Unlike the fabled, “...six men of Hindustan, to learning much inclined, who went to see an elephant, though all of them were blind,” who at least tried to determine the nature of the beast, Justice Oliphant, blinkered by a restrictive mandate given him by the Harper Government, has been studiously avoiding several obvious links to the Airbus elephant raised in his presence.
Former Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney’s close associate, Fred Doucet, certainly, does not appear to have the memory of an elephant in regard to matters touching on that affair.
Whether Brian Mulroney was involved or not, it seems clear that millions in schmeergelder were distributed to corrupt Canadian politicians or prominent civil servants to ensure that Air Canada bought Airbus aircraft. If the current inquiry winds up without shedding light on the murky dealings that led to that outcome, Canadians will be left with the feeling that the Airbus tusker has gored the taxpayer and a malodorous whiff of scandal will remain.