Friday, November 23, 2007

Schreiber to be called before ethics committee

I guess the ethics committee is the obvious place to hear the great ethicist and arms dealer Karl-Heinz Schreiber. I hope the chair has set strict rules about shouting in the committee. Recently the noise level has been a danger to ear drums.
Maybe the Conservatives will find some way to block the hearings as it has done previously.

Opposition wins vote to call Schreiber before Commons ethics committee

Juliet O'Neill
CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen

Friday, November 23, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Commons ethics committee voted Thursday to summon Karlheinz Schreiber from a Toronto jail to testify on the eve of his scheduled extradition to Germany about his dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert immediately denounced the decision to summon the German-Canadian businessman and to launch an inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair as "a politically motivated witch hunt." Mulroney will be summoned next month.

The vote was six to five, with MPs from the minority Conservative government outnumbered by the combined opposition of Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and New Democrat MPs.

Suspicious that the government might deport him despite a public inquiry being planned for next year, the majority authorized committee chair Paul Szabo to use whatever tools he needs to get Schreiber on the hot seat "without delay."

Szabo said the committee order will trump the extradition order. That may be a moot point, as Schreiber is buying more time by appealing the extradition order to the Supreme Court of Canada for the third time.

Conservative MPs said a government-ordered public inquiry will get to the bottom of the affair. One of them, Dean Del Mastro, said Canadians should be "outraged" by Liberals who want Schreiber to be allowed to collect his papers at his Ottawa home and given time to prepare a presentation to the committee.

"Even the worst prisoner in this country can be moved from place to place," Liberal MP Charles Hubbard shot back. Schreiber faces tax evasion, fraud, forgery and other charges in Germany, stemming from investigations into a political slush fund and transactions such as the sale of German armed vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

The political developments came amid reports Schreiber appealed his extradition to the Supreme Court for the third time in eight years. He has been in a Toronto detention centre for several weeks since he was detained for deportation. An appeal of his extradition order before the Ontario Court of Appeal last week failed, and Schreiber is set to be deported Dec. 1.

Allegations by Schreiber in a recent court affidavit prompted Prime Minister Stephen Harper to seek advice on how to protect the integrity of the office of the prime minister and to examine the legitimacy of a $2.1 million lawsuit settlement granted to Mulroney by the former Liberal government of Jean Chretien in 1997.

Schreiber's new allegations cast a cloud over the settlement and added new details to four-year-old revelations that Mulroney accepted $300,000 cash from Schreiber. The detailed allegations are that Mulroney cut a business deal with Schreiber before he stepped down as prime minister June 25, 1993, accepted $100,00 while he was still an MP, and got a promise from Mulroney to tell Harper in 2006 that their business was above-board and a private matter.

Mulroney's spokesman said this week at Mulroney took the $100,000 in cash when he was still an MP but there was nothing illegal about it.

Pushed by New Democrat Pat Martin, the ethics committee intends to study whether any public office holders broke conflict of interest and ethics codes and whether the codes need to be strengthened for the future. The Liberal and Bloc Quebecois element of the approved motion calls for a review of the Harper government's handling of the allegations.

Ottawa Citizen

© CanWes

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