I hate to say anything good about Brian Mulroney but in this case I certainly think that he is doing the right thing. I hope that Mulroney's call will be supported by action on the part of Harper. I predict that next week question period will be all about how much and when Harper knew about the affair. Other issues will be pushed aside. Everyone loves a juicy scandal more than anything else no matter how important.
Mulroney calls for full-blown public inquiry
Updated Tue. Nov. 13 2007 7:52 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney wants the government to call a public inquiry into allegations he improperly accepted money from German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber while still in office.
"I have come to the conclusion that in order to finally put this matter to rest and expose all the facts and the role played by all the people involved, from public servants to elected officials, from lobbyists to police authorities, as well as journalists, the only solution is for the government to launch a full-fledged public commission of inquiry," he said in a statement Monday night.
Mulroney told CTV News that he wants to demonstrate to Canadians that he's innocent, and said that no one has ever accused him of any wrongdoing.
Norman Spector, a former chief of staff to Mulroney, called his ex-boss' move a political masterstroke.
However, Spector told Canada AM on Wednesday that he believes a public inquiry "is guaranteed to bog down" over side issues and wouldn't result in the key questions being answered.
He thought the best way to get actual answers would be to appoint a special prosecutor with subpoena powers, similar to the system in place in British Columbia.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he would appoint an independent third party to review the $300,000 Mulroney received from Schreiber. The first payment of $100,000 allegedly came shortly after Mulroney left the prime minister's office.
Mulroney has denied all allegations of impropriety. He received an apology from the government and a $2.1 million-settlement in 1997 after he was publicly mentioned in connection with an investigation into the sale of Airbus jets to Air Canada.
Schreiber is currently in a Toronto detention centre where he's fighting extradition to Germany, stemming from charges of bribery, fraud and tax evasion.
He said Monday he has kept meticulous records of his correspondence with Mulroney, including copies of letters, and has promised to reveal several "surprises" about their business dealings.
"I will have a suitcase full of surprises for these people, but I will not go in a contest for what these guys are saying or not saying," he told CTV News by phone. "I don't care."
He alleges that one of the letters he kept proves he discussed business matters with Mulroney one day before he retired as prime minister -- an allegation that Schreiber also filed in a court affidavit.
Schreiber also claims a copy of the letter was sent to Harper last March, but Harper denies ever receiving it. Schreiber also claimed that Mulroney wanted to show Harper the letter when he visited him at Harrington Lake in July 2006.
Harper told reporters he met with Mulroney in August 2006, not July, and the letter was never mentioned.
"We did not talk about the relationship between Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney did not give me any letter," Harper told a press conference.
On Monday, Schreiber said he was surprised Harper never read the letter.
"Is he surrounded so much by people who didn't want him to see the material? This would mean that Mulroney's people were so around him that he is nothing more than a puppet," said Schreiber.
He also said the letter is just one of many he's sent to Harper about the case.
"I would say it's more in the neighbourhood of 15 to 20 letters, because I send him a copy of each letter I have sent to other people," he said.
None of Schreiber's allegations have been proven in court and Mulroney maintains his innocence.
Schreiber is an international lobbyist and arms dealer with a history of controversy. He's fought extradition to Germany for 10 years.
With reports from CTV's Robert Fife and Lisa LaFlamme