Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to seek third-party advice on "what course of action may be appropriate" over Karlheinz Schreiber's allegations concerning Brian Mulroney is welcome and necessary. It means Canadians may yet get to the bottom of the bewildering relationship between the former prime minister and the wheeler-dealer.
Yesterday, The Globe and Mail published some contents of an affidavit sworn by Mr. Schreiber and filed Thursday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. These include an allegation that an adviser to
Mr. Mulroney asked Mr. Schreiber
to transfer funds, made in connection with a 1988 purchase of Air-
bus aircraft by Air Canada, to the former prime minister's lawyer in Switzerland. It is only the latest troubling allegation to emerge regarding the dealings between the two men, and many perplexing questions have gone unanswered. (None of the statements in Mr. Schreiber's affidavit have been proven in court.)
Why did Mr. Mulroney accept large cash payments totalling $300,000 from Mr. Schreiber?
What services were rendered for the money, which was paid in three instalments to Mr. Mulroney in 1993 and 1994?
Why did Mr. Mulroney delay paying tax on the money he received?
How is one to explain the confusing testimony Mr. Mulroney gave under oath in 1995 about whether or when he had had dealings with Mr. Schreiber?
Although Mr. Harper had responded dismissively to earlier allegations, his response this time was imme-
diate and firm. He distanced his
government from Mr. Mulroney, stating that there will be no communication with the former prime minister until the review has been completed. He said that "some of these new allegations touch on the former prime minister's time in office," and that it must be determined "whether these allegations,
if true, have any bearing on the
settlement reached in January, 1997."
This is a reference to the $2.1-million that the federal government paid to settle a defamation law-
suit filed by Mr. Mulroney after
the RCMP, during a criminal in-
vestigation into the Airbus deal,
alleged in a letter that Mr. Mul-
roney had conspired to defraud Canadians.
The need for a third-party review is obvious. It should conclude with full public disclosure of the findings and a process for finally explaining the circumstances in which the $300,000 was paid. Canadians deserve to know.