Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tory Legacy: A Scandal Within a Scandal Within a Scandal

How much Stephen Harper knew about the Airbus deal after the fact, is still open to speculation, but according to Karlheinz Schreiber, Harper had assured Mulroney that he could make it go away.

Indeed, he certainly put off any inquiry until the last possible moment, but when learning that he was named in court documents, all bets were off.

I suppose we may never learn the extent of the Conservative Party's involvement with the German businessman, but apparently they were into him to the tune of 10 million dollars.

But the chain of events that led to a $300,000.00 cash payment and the resulting cover-up, involves not only Mulroney and Schreiber, but also Conrad Black and the national media.

Scandal Number One:

Before leaving public office, Brian Mulroney had got himself into a financial mess and was indebted to the Progressive Conservative party to the tune of more than $ 200,000.00

To raise needed funds he tried to sell some of his personal furnishings that were then at 24 Sussex Drive, at inflated prices to the Government of Canada. However, the media got wind of it and the deal was off. So now what?

Scandal Number Two:

Enter Karlheinz Schreiber with a fat wallet and poof; problems over. But were they?

Mr. Schreiber is not a stupid man and the $ 300,000.00 he gave to the former Prime Minister, was not a gift. He wanted something in return, and according to him, Mulroney had agreed to aid in the building of a factory to make light armoured vehicles in Quebec; though he never held up his end of the bargain.

Originally, Mulroney denied ever knowing Schreiber and sued us for 1.2 million dollars, which was paid out when Jean Chretien was in office.

Scandal Number Three:

According to Frances Russel of the Winnipeg Free Press, the media was aware of the scandal years before it became public, but were under orders to keep it quiet.

Right-wing media covering up political scandal
Winnipeg Free Press
Frances Russel
December 12, 2007

There's a parallel scandal to Karlheinz Schreiber, Brian Mulroney and envelopes containing $300,000 in cash changing hands in hotel rooms.

This scandal involves the decision by all but a handful of journalists and media over the last decade to ignore, dismiss, even squelch, the story.

The scandal continues today in reams of columns and editorials calling for Schreiber's immediate deportation to Germany and the shelving of both the Commons ethics committee investigation and the promised public inquiry.

William Kaplan is a law professor and author. Norman Spector, now apolitical commentator, was Mulroney's chief of staff from 1990 to 1992 and then his ambassador to Israel. Lawrence Martin is a Globe and Mail columnist and author. And Stephen Kimber is Rogers Communications' chair in journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax.

All have commented on the Mulroney-Schreiber affair and what it says about Canadian journalism.

In the opening chapter of his 2004 book, A Secret Trial: Brian Mulroney, Stevie Cameron and the Public Trust, Kaplan writes that he couldn't believe his ears when veteran reporter Philip Mathias read him the story the National Post refused to publish in 2001.

Had it been, Canadians would have learned almost seven years ago that Schreiber paid Mulroney $300,000 in three instalments in 1993 and 1994.

Kaplan was equally shocked when Mathias recounted why his story was"spiked."Mathias gave it to Post editors in early January 2001. Three months later, it still hadn't seen the light of day.

Frustrated, Mathias wrote letters to Conrad Black and the Aspers, the paper's co-owners. At a meeting with senior editors, Mathias was told there was no story. He was repeatedly asked why he kept pursuing it -- and why he went over his editors' heads.

That night, Mathias was phoned at home by Kenneth Whyte, the Post's editor-in-chief, now editor-in-chief of Maclean's magazine. Whyte told Mathias he also backed killing the story. Thus, Canadians didn't hear about the cash payments to Mulroney until the fall of 2003.

Even then, they were only mentioned in passing in paragraph 26 of one of a series of articles written by Kaplan for The Globe.

In a column last month, Norman Spector excoriated the media for allowing Kaplan's 2003 shocking but buried disclosures about Mulroney to "fizzle out." Here's why Spector thinks they did:"

With the National Post having killed what would have been an extraordinary scoop, Mr. Kaplan's book ended up being ignored by most CanWest newspapers. In Quebec, Mr. Mulroney has always enjoyed the benefit of the doubt, as well as the support of influential friends in command of major chunks of the media. In Ottawa, many reporters were looking for reasons not to write about the book..."

Spector went further in a Canadian Press interview, saying theMulroney/Schreiber affair "could be one of the great scandals of Canadian history."

Lawrence Martin has written several articles about the Canadian media's rightward migration. In a January 2003 column headlined It's not Canadians who've gone to the right, just their media, he quoted an unnamed European diplomat saying "You have a bit of a problem here. Your media are not representative of your people, your values."

Too many political commentators are right of centre while the public is in the middle, the diplomat continued. There is a disconnect.

Martin believes the disconnect began when Conrad Black converted the Financial Post into the National Post, hired a stable of conservative commentators like Mark Steyn, David Frum and George Jonas, bought the centrist Southam chain and turned the entire package into a vehicle to unite Canada's right and retool the country's values to U.S.-style conservatism. (Stephen Harper was also a regular contributor during his days with the National Citizens Coalition)

Even further right rests the Quebecor-owned tabloid Sun Media chain. Mulroney was chairman of the board of Sun Media and sits on Quebecor's board. (Conservative Peter Kent is on the board of Canwest Global)

"The country undoubtedly needs its share of right-wing voices," Martin wrote in 2005. "But how many is too many?... Such is the ideological trend in the print media -- broadcast has more balance -- that the largest segment of the population, centre-left Canadians, are at risk of losing their voice.

"Writing in the Halifax Daily News last month, Stephen Kimber asked how and why the Parliamentary press gallery and most major news organizations "managed, for close to a decade, to not only ignore but actively dismiss, what will ultimately be one of the great scandals in Canadian political history.

"Kimber answered his question in a telephone interview late last week. "The Ottawa media is small-c conservative and has been for a long time." He thinks the conversion occurred during the Mulroney era.

"There's a whole group of journalists in Ottawa... who were around during his time but are still powerful... who liked him personally and felt he made them one of the boys.

"Conrad Black's influence on the shift in the media to the right really can't be overstated... Canadians have a right to expect a lot more of their media that what they got in the Mulroney-Schreiber affair."

And yet Harper claims the media is out to get him, so has everyone under a strict gag order.


  1. great comments, great cartoon, but you really should give a credit to the artist.

  2. You're right. Sometimes I trim off the excess and forget to leave the signature. Thanks for the heads up.