Friday, January 25, 2008

Mulroney Waterboy Runs to the Rescue

Phil Mathias, former "investigative" reporter for the National Spot, has come out swinging (or at least fanning the air) in defence of the guy he never wanted to investigate, Brian Mulroney.

A whole little PR sturm und drang has been unleashed just in time for the resumption of the Commons ethics committee investigation into the dealings between Brian Mulroney and his long time buddy, Karlheinz Schreiber.

One of Muldoon's lawyers has sent a whining gripe note to committee chairman, Paul Szabo, complaining that the grand old bullshitter himself hasn't been treated with kid gloves by the committee members. Lawyer Guy Pratte had a right proper hissie, claiming the committee had treated Mulroney unfairly and with disrespect. Oh dear me!

The whole thing seems to have erupted just as there's talk the committee may subpoena Mulroney's tax records to see if they will shed any light on the cash-stuffed envelopes that Schreiber passed to our former Conservative prime minister.

Then Phil Mathias waded in with an opinion piece condemning all and sundry for subjecting Mulroney to a witch hunt.

"... the campaign against Mr. Mulroney is what academics call a "mobbing," a process that is most visible on politically correct university campuses. An unpopular member of faculty is targeted by an accusation and then subjected to an inquisition, which eventually leads to his expulsion in disgrace. Very often, the accusation is trivial or false, and the disciplinary process is abused. This is what has happened to Mr. Mulroney."

"The grudge most Canadians hold against Mr. Mulroney is that he introduced the hated Goods and Services Tax in 1989, a measure that was nevertheless applauded by economists, and later by Liberals. His image suffered a serious blow in 1995, when publisher Seal Books (subsequently absorbed by Random House Canada) decided the best way to excite interest in a book by Stevie Cameron was to feature Mr. Mulroney on the cover dressed opulently in a tuxedo next to the words On the Take, even though the book contained no hard evidence that he has ever taken a bribe."

"...During his libel action against the government, Mr. Mulroney was asked by government lawyers if he had ever had any dealings with Mr. Schreiber. In his answer, Mr. Mulroney failed to mention a $225,000-$300,000 deal he had made with Mr. Schreiber for work that he would do after he left office. (Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber disagree on the amount paid.) Mr. Mulroney's political savvy probably told him that if he revealed the Schreiber deal, the roof would cave in on him, as it has since done. Mr. Mulroney is now condemned for not revealing this arrangement, even though it had nothing to do with the issue in the libel case."

Hey Phil, if the question wasn't relevant Mulroney, a lawyer accompanied by senior counsel, could have objected to answering it. He didn't. Instead he went off on a detailed description of meeting Schreiber a few times for a cup of coffee. Sorry, Phil, but the guy's under oath and he's giving a deliberately misleading (ie "false") answer. He was "savvy" enough to know that if he told the truth, "the roof would cave in on him?" I think that's called perjury, Phil. He chose to answer the question, he was under oath, what you now think of the question itself is irrelevant, Phil.

"The ethics committee now wants to examine Mr. Mulroney's tax records relating to the $225,000-$300,000 payment, even though Mr. Mulroney received most of the money while he was a private citizen for work that he would do as a private citizen. The Canada Revenue Agency has apparently accepted Mr. Mulroney's submissions, so why are the tax records of this private citizen a matter of Parliamentary ethics? When a mobbing is in progress, such questions are put aside."

You see, Phil, there you go again. He received "most" of the money while he was a private citizen. That's like saying we don't need to worry about the fact that this transaction was put into effect while BM was a key figure in the government of the day, the former prime minister. Sorry, you've got a few spots on your logic Phil and I think they're grease.

"...By the time the ethics committee and the commission of inquiry have finished with Mr. Mulroney, their inquiries will have added another year or two to the 15 years that this witch hunt has already been going on. And whatever their ultimate findings, the mere process of investigation may destroy the last shreds of Mr. Mulroney's reputation and make the disgrace of this former Canadian prime minister complete."

Phil, Phil, Phil - If Mulroney's reputation is destroyed and his disgrace complete, that's his doing and no one else's. If only we could get into GCI and Frank Moores and where that $20-million of Airbus money went and whether any of it found its way into Brian's pockets but that's a long shot and Mulroney knows it. CGI is long gone and, fortunately for Mulroney, so is Moores. That's one thing the Commons committee has clarified. That money - that illicit money - didn't go to Schreiber but to Frank Moores, the same guy Mulroney appointed to the board of Air Canada just in time for the Airbus deal.

For a supposed "investigative reporter", Mathias has gone well out of his way for years to avoid investigating this one. Mathias broke the story of the RCMP letter of request, the publication of which created the basis for Mulroney's defamation suit. It was during a Fifth Estate interview with Mathias in his office at the Spot that a CBC cameraman filmed a letter on his desk that turned out to be the English translation of the "smoking gun" letter. From the Fifth Estate web site:

"Mathias' former colleague at the National Post, Andrew Coyne, says the leaking of the letter was the act which actually constituted the libel.

"What made it a libel was that it was printed in the Financial Post and everyone could read it there," Andrew Coyne told the fifth estate. "Obviously Mr. Mulroney would be very concerned about his reputation ... but for the police to be passing back and forth allegations to each other on its own it seems to me is not terribly blameworthy."

Schreiber has long been suspected as source of the Letter of Request that wound up with Mathias. Those suspicions grew when it was revealed by CBC reporter Neil MacDonald that the document in Mathias' possession was the same translation of the letter Mulroney's lawyers had filed in court the day they launched their lawsuit.

Mathias had obtained a translation of the justice department letter prepared for Mulroney by Schreiber's lawyers in Switzerland.

"So how could a private document prepared for Mulroney by his own lawyers find its way into the hands of the reporter who broke the story?"

Caught with the translation - not the actual RCMP letter but the translation prepared by Schreiber's Swiss lawyers - investigative reporter Mathias refused to explain the obvious - how this wound up in his hands, the very reporter who "broke" the story? Was this whole thing - the letter, its publication in the Spot contrived? If so, there was no libel of Brian Mulroney, at least none for which the federal government could be help responsible. We deserve our two million back plus a whole pile of cash-stuffed envelopes in accrued interest.

I hope the committee issues one more subpoena - to Phil Mathias. He has a lot of questions to answer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis!