As the inquiry continues into the business dealings between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber, another familiar name enters the fray. That of Elmer MacKay, Peter MacKay's father. He is the man in the centre of the photograph, and was a cabinet minister for Mulroney at the time of the questionable transactions.
While he denies knowing anything about the money, he was definitely a key player in the negotiations, and a confidant (Elmer merely says 'friend') of the German businessman. So what was his involvement?
Elmer MacKay testifies he knew nothing about cash payments
Entries in Schreiber’s diary indicate that he made phone calls to former Mulroney cabinet minister Elmer MacKay on the same days as the first two meetings were held. MacKay has confirmed he had lunch with Mulroney and Schreiber the day of the third meeting.
In addition, Schreiber’s diary shows he made phone calls to MacKay on two days in July 1993 when he made banking transactions in Switzerland to obtain money to pay Mulroney.
MacKay acknowledged Monday he had been an ardent supporter of the Bear Head project while he served in cabinet because the deal — at least in its original form — would have brought much-needed jobs to his home province of Nova Scotia.
Even when he project was later changed to move the site of the proposed Thyssen plant to Mulroney’s home province of Quebec, MacKay said he continued to support it because there was "still a benefit to Canada."
MacKay insisted, however, that he knew nothing of the cash payments collected by Mulroney after he left office. And he was at a loss to explain the Schreiber diary entries bearing his name.
He can no longer recall details of any of the conversations he had with Schreiber on the days in question, MacKay testified.
But he was adamant that "I do know there was nothing in there about business or money or anything like that."
According to Schreiber, the deal was reached just before Mulroney stepped down as prime minister in June 1993, although the money didn’t change hands until later.
So is Elmer MacKay telling the truth? When he was in Mulroney's cabinet he was constantly on the carpet for patronage appointments and dirty practices, so it's not a stretch to imagine that he was complicit in the dealings and the cover up.
Remember Harper only called the inquiry after pressure from the opposition and after learning that his own name was presented in the court documents. Was he also trying to protect Peter MacKay?
The Perplexing Case of Elmer MacKay
In the whole sorry saga of Karl Schreiber's shennanigans in Canada, the weirdest part has got to be Schreiber's relationship with Elmer MacKay.
Elmer is mostly remembered as the guy who gave up his seat in Central Nova so newly elected PC leader Brian Mulroney could run there. In thanks, Mulroney made Elmer Solicitor General. Later Elmer became even more famous as the father of our lovelorn Minister of Defence, Peter MacKay.
Back in 1999, Schreiber was in Switzerland when German officials issued an arrest warrant for him. Elmer flew to Switzerland and flew back to Canada with Schreiber. Once in Canada, Schreiber was arrested on the German warrant to face extradition. Elmer paid $100,000 in bail. (Trudeau-era Justice Minister Marc Lalonde paid another $100,000 bail. However, Lalonde is generally described as a lobbyist working for Schreiber, while Elmer consistently describes his relationship with Schreiber as friendship.) Karl lived in Elmer's house for a while.
What is this strange relationship between Elmer and Karl? Many parents wouldn't cross an ocean to fetch back an errant child, much less a business acquaintance or friend.
As late as 2006, Elmer used Peter MacKay's constituency office resources to try to force the RCMP to back down in its investigation of Schreiber.
I wonder if Karl has been shaking down the Conservatives for a long time, threatening to reveal secrets if they don't keep him out of trouble. Or Karl might be receiving help staying out of Germany because the German case against him includes bribes he paid to Canadians for the Airbus deal - some people in Canada may worry that if the Germans ever get him home for trial, the lid will be blown off the whole Airbus controversy.
It is mighty suspicious that decades of RCMP investigations have revealed so little about the Airbus scandal: most of what we know about the scandal (such as Frank Moores' involvement) was uncovered by the media.
Or maybe Elmer MacKay is just the best friend a shady arms dealer could have.
Schreiber says Elmer MacKay urged him to mend fences with Mulroney
Karlheinz Schreiber says former Conservative cabinet minister Elmer MacKay urged him to write a letter to Brian Mulroney to patch up their relationship so he could raise his extradition case with the prime minister, CBC News has learned.
Schreiber, who is set to testify before the federal ethics committee on Thursday about his affairs with Mulroney, claims MacKay told him that Mulroney was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the summer of 2006.
CBC News approached Elmer MacKay at his Lorne, N.S., home for comment.
Schreiber said MacKay told him that if he wanted Mulroney to raise the issue of his extradition with Harper, he needed to make amends with Mulroney. Both Mulroney and Schreiber are long-time friends of MacKay, who is the father of current Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
CBC News has obtained a copy of an e-mail which appears to have been sent from Elmer MacKay's wife's address to Schreiber's wife in June of last year under the subject heading "proposed letter." (A real family affair)
The e-mail contains verbatim portions of the actual letter Schreiber did send to Mulroney about three weeks later.
The letter apologizes for what it claimed was a misleading characterization of Schreiber's business dealings with Mulroney as depicted in a report by CBC's The Fifth Estate. The letter claims Schreiber was misled by the producers.
Schreiber said he sent the letter because MacKay suggested Mulroney might raise the issue of Schreiber's pending extradition with Harper.
But Harper has said Mulroney never raised the issue of Schreiber's extradition with him at that meeting.
When approached at his Lorne, N.S., home, MacKay would not comment to CBC News about the e-mail.
Schreiber is currently suing Mulroney to recoup $300,000 in cash payments he handed out to the former Tory prime minister to enlist his help in establishing a pasta business and a light-armoured vehicle factory. Schreiber contends that Mulroney did not provide the services.
Schreiber alleges in an affidavit that the deal was struck two days before Mulroney left office as prime minister in 1993.
Schreiber also alleges in the affidavit that a Mulroney adviser asked Schreiber to transfer money in connection with Air Canada's 1988 purchase of Airbus planes to a Mulroney lawyer based in Switzerland.