Former PM leaves questions unanswered

Who in Canada benefitted from the awarding of Airbus contract?

L'affaire Mulroney-Schreiber

Sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough. It depends on what you did and whether your explanations are believable. On both counts, Brian Mulroney's testimony in front of the Commons ethics committee might have done him more harm than good.
Mulroney admitted that he was still an MP when he took his first envelope, filled with $75,000 in cash, from Karlheinz Schreiber in 1993. He later took two other cash payments for a total of $225,000. This was a retainer fee, he said, to lobby foreign governments to buy peacekeeping armoured vehicles from Thyssen.
He said he put the money in safety-deposit boxes in Montreal and New York, not in a bank. A bemused committee member replied that people usually do that to hide money, avoid taxes, or both. Mulroney said he had no contract with Schreiber, no receipts, no invoices, no accounting sheets for his expenses and no written reports on the work that he said took him to Russia, China, Europe and the U.S. Mulroney added that Schreiber was the only client with whom he functioned in this manner.

Mulroney said he took the cash because Schreiber told him he was "a European businessman who dealt in cash." Taking it, he said , was an "error in judgment." The problem is that he did it three times and that anyone who has done contractual work knows that this is no way to do legitimate business, be it for a European or a Canadian.
Basically, what Mulroney is asking Canadians to believe is that a renowned lawyer and a sophisticated, worldly man was naïve enough to take cash, put it in deposit boxes, keep no proof of his work, have no invoices for his services or expenses, and think that all this was normal and ethical. Good luck.
He said the reason why he waited so long to declare the money as revenue was that Schreiber had been accused of fraud. Therefore, Mulroney said, he had to "clean all that up." Does that mean that if Schreiber hadn't been accused, Mulroney wouldn't have declared it?
Mulroney said he declared the entire $225,000 and "absorbed" his expenses while he lobbied for Schreiber. Some committee members rightly wondered why anyone would refuse to deduct expenses? That might well be because he couldn't do it if he had no invoices to produce.
Mulroney also said he'd accepted the money because at the time, Schreiber was a "respectable businessman." But what respectable businessman hands $75,000 in cash to a sitting MP? Canadians might also wonder why a freshly former prime minister thought it was respectable for Schreiber to give the money or for him to take it.
It's a given that Schreiber wants to avoid extradition, as Mulroney repeatedly said, and that some of his statements might be tainted by that. But many of Mulroney's answers are troubling enough on their own. Whether Mulroney sees it or not, they paint the picture of a former prime minister who willingly took $75,000 in cash, three times, didn't put it in a bank, has no proof of his work and declared the money only when circumstances forced him to.
Liberal MP Robert Thibault brought this story back to its genesis - the role of lobbyists in Ottawa and the link between Mulroney's government and Airbus.
"Was this the tip of the iceberg of a lot of money that flowed?" he asked. In other words, is it possible that this money was given partly out of gratitude for handing Airbus a $1.8-billion contract in 1988, for which Schreiber lobbied hard?
In front of the committee, Schreiber explained how Canada played the role of Trojan horse for Airbus when it opened the North American market to the European consortium. Mulroney rode that horse, even filling Air Canada's board with Airbus-friendly Tories.
So the question remains : Who in Canada benefitted from picking Airbus over Boeing? And was Mulroney rewarded with the money from Schreiber?

Unfortunately for Mr. Mulroney, none of the answers he's given so far has made this question go away.
- source

Laissez un commentaire

Aucun commentaire trouvé