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Let Schreiber stay in Canada to speak at public inquiry, poll says

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Karlheinz Schreiber should be allowed to remain in Canada until he testifies at next year's public inquiry, according to a majority of respondents in a new Globe and Mail/CTV poll.

Germany seeks Mr. Schreiber's extradition to face charges of bribery, fraud and tax evasion.

But 59 per cent of respondents who were interviewed by the Strategic Counsel said his extradition should be delayed until after his testimony at the public inquiry into his financial dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Thirty per cent said Mr. Schreiber should be deported as soon as possible, while 11 per cent had no opinion.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has the power to delay Mr. Schreiber's extradition, but he has not said whether he will keep him in Canada for the public inquiry. No date for the Supreme Court hearing has been set.

"I've got no doubt that what Nicholson wants for Christmas is a Schreiber-free Canada," Liberal MP Robert Thibault has said.

The poll suggests the Mulroney-Schreiber issue is starting to hurt the Conservative Party, according to Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of the Strategic Counsel. Of the 1,000 respondents, only 42 per cent said they feel Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done a good or very good job of handling the matter. That number is down from 51 per cent of respondents a month ago.

Mr. Schreiber will testify for the fourth time tomorrow before the House of Commons ethics committee, which used a Speaker's warrant last month to get him out of the Toronto West Detention Centre. He was released from custody on bail last week.

Mr. Mulroney, the Progressive Conservative prime minister from 1984 to 1993, is scheduled to testify before the committee on Thursday.

NDP MP Pat Martin said committee members were consulted on a request from Mr. Mulroney to have his family in the camera shot behind him during his appearance.

The committee chair, Liberal MP Paul Szabo, is expected to rule today, although Mr. Mulroney's spokesman said the seating plan was "irrelevant."

Mr. Harper has also called for a public inquiry into this matter, saying he needs to protect the office of the Prime Minister.

However, Canadians are split on the need for the public inquiry, given that Mr. Schreiber has already testified before MPs and Mr. Mulroney is scheduled to appear this week. The poll, which has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, shows 45 per cent of respondents want a public inquiry, while 44 per cent do not.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they are not following Mr. Schreiber's testimony closely or at all.

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