Friday, December 21, 2007

Salutin: All I want for Xmas is my Inquiry.

Well as Salutin shows Harper's elves in the media are spreading the word to Santa Johnston that Harper does not want an inquiry. So unless Johnston thinks that Harper has been naughty and Salutin's been nice, Salutin will get no inquiry for Xmas. Every right winger knows Salutin is not nice!

All I want for Christmas is my inquiry
>by Rick Salutin
December 21, 2007
I have heard the drumbeat of calls to halt the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry before it starts. Think of Mike Duffy as CTV's little drummer boy, who receives inspiration from a higher source: Don't, they told me,

(barupabumbum) Don't hold that inquiry,

(barupabumbum) There's nothing new, you see.


Aided on air by Elf Ian Macdonald, Mulroney acolyte Bob Fife and Lloyd, who often begins a report with something like, Well, Craig, why are they still beating that dead horse?

“The case for a public inquiry has melted away,” wrote Margaret Wente. There's nothing new, said Chantal Hébert.

But here's Karlheinz Schreiber: “The story is the payback for money to help someone come to power.” Replete with details: How Franz Josef Strauss dispatched him from Germany to seed right-wingers around the world and eject fakes such as Joe Clark. And where they plotted: the Ritz! They sat around, “And everybody got something,” once Brian took power. Not just contracts but free trade and the rest. We still live with the results. This isn't worth inquiring into? Watergate was just a piddling break-in.

They say “there is nothing to link Mr. Mulroney to the Airbus bribes.” But that may get the sequence wrong. What if Airbus wasn't what the Mulroney crew were owed something for? What if Airbus was what they owed to the Straussians who hoisted them into power? I'm just inquiring.

It's true a poll says 52 per cent of people “would rather avoid” an inquiry. But people seem to follow along with interest and draw conclusions, for example, Karlheinz is three times more credible than Brian M. Maybe they should poll on whether people would like an inquiry better if they didn't have to put up with hours more of Brian Mulroney humping the mike on the witness stand.

Think of it as an unprecedented chance for alternate education in how the world works. Most people who've worked for someone else, endured a mean teacher or suffered other abuses of power aren't shocked by the Schreiber tale. They know those at the top are often there because they had money to start with or offered loyal service to those who did. Then why bother with an inquiry? Because it's a relief to get confirmation of your sense of reality in the face of denial by the respectable sources. This kind of gap was a running theme of the Mulroney years. He marshalled massive elite and media backing for Meech Lake or Charlottetown. Then the people of the country shot him down and eventually destroyed his whole party. Maybe the inquiry should continue accumulating evidence till the authorities stop insisting there's nothing to see.

I'm no big fan of public inquiries. Sometimes the magic works, as in the O'Connor hearings into the water in Walkerton, Ont., and into the Arar debacle; and sometimes it doesn't, as in the Gomery exercise in judicial ego. But I'd at least like to see Brian Mulroney show up “with bells on,” as he promised before he turned against an inquiry, so I'll know what that phrase means.

This spellbinding exposé, with or without an inquiry, would not have happened without (a) the CBC and (b) minority government. It is inconceivable that a private network would have continued the story after the government caved in 1995 and gave $2.1-million to Brian Mulroney. I find it astounding that the CBC didn't quit. Harvey Cashore, the producer who's been on it for over a decade, says that moment was his lowest; he was subject to scorn, mockery and a personal sense of humiliation. He says he told his boss he wanted to drop the subject. His boss asked him to take the weekend to think about it. He went home in that gloomy mood, then looked at his two boys and wondered how he could live with them and himself if he abandoned a story he felt had far more in it. He returned Monday and went back to work.

Thanks for the gift, Harvey. Merry Christmas to you, your kids and everyone.

Originally published in The Globe and Mail, Rick Salutin's column appears every Friday.

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