Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Harper-Mulroney

It is hard to believe that anyone other than Stephen Harper is running the government of Canada, but how big a hand does former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney have in running the government of Canada? It has been long accepted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney are both close friends and that Mulroney has acted as an advisor to Harper on occasions.

As it became known that German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber made serious allegations against Brian Mulroney, which were filed in court last week, there has been a flurry of debate in parliament as to how PM Harper should handle this whole matter. St├ęphane Dion, leader of the official liberal opposition called for a public inquiry. Harper refused to oblige Dion and announced an "independent third-party review" of the issue to recommend what the government should do next. This failed to satisfy Dion and the push continued for a full public inquiry. Harper then indicated that he would have his independent third party advise the government on whether a public inquiry would be appropriate given all the circumstances or at least something to that extent. Again, Dion pushed back with his demand for a public inquiry. Yesterday everything changed. Harper caved and announced a full public inquiry. Dion and the liberal opposition can claim some credit for Harper reversing his position on this issue.

Now take a look at these developments from another angle. All the while the debate raged in and out of the House of Commons it would be fair to say that Brian Mulroney was getting madder by the minute as his name was being tarnished unfairly. I believe Brian Mulroney was the person who caused Harper to finally cave into the liberals and call for a full public inquiry. Understandably, Mulroney believes he is innocent and the only way to prove that conclusively would be via a full public inquiry going back to 1988 to include the whole Airbus affair where all this began in the first place.

It should be noted that Karlheinz Schreiber is currently being held in a Toronto detention centre where he is awaiting his fate regarding pending deportation to Germany on tax evasion, fraud and bribery charges. You can see why Brian Mulroney has every right to be fumed over this issue and why he would want to settle this matter once and for all. It should also be noted that Mulroney successfully sued the liberal government over the Airbus affair, including allegations of an alleged kickback scheme in the early 1990s, and the government was required to pay Mulroney $2.1 million.

Further, as reported, the RCMP announced that it is launching its own review of German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber's allegation filed in court last Thursday that he and the former Prime Minister talked about their private business arrangement in a meeting in June 1993, two days before Mulroney left office. In a few long days Prime Minister Stephan Harper has went from total objection to the liberal opposition to a full public inquiry topped off with an RCMP review of the whole matter.

When you look at all the factors to be considered in this mess it is reasonable to suggest that Brian Mulroney still has a pretty big hand in the affairs of the new Harper conservative government. Mulroney has everything to gain and a lot to lose. Harper has little to gain and a lot to lose. If I were a liberal I would be asking who is running the government?