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Schreiber more believable than Mulroney: poll

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests only one in 10 Canadians believe Brian Mulroney is telling the truth about his business relationship with German-Canadian arms broker Karlheinz Schreiber.

The Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey found that respondents were almost three times as likely to take the word of Mr. Schreiber, a controversial lobbyist who is wanted in Germany on charges of bribery, fraud and tax evasion.

The online poll of more than 1,000 respondents was conducted Dec. 4-10 while Mr. Schreiber was testifying at a televised House of Commons committee. It suggests neither man enjoys much credibility.

More than half — 51 per cent — of respondents said they don't believe Mr. Mulroney, with 39 per cent saying they don't know. Some 30 per cent said they don't believe Schreiber, compared with 27 per cent who believe his story and 43 per cent who don't know.

The poll is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

Mr. Mulroney, the former Tory prime minister, is set to testify Thursday at the ethics committee looking into his business dealings with Mr. Schreiber.

Mr. Mulroney personally has never provided a public account of why he accepted $300,000 in cash payments from Mr. Schreiber shortly after he left office in 1993.

Mr. Mulroney later won a $2.1-million libel settlement from the Canadian government over a leaked RCMP investigative letter that alleged the former prime minister and Mr. Schreiber may have been involved in a kickback scheme related to the purchase of Airbus jets.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised a public inquiry into the affair, but the Harris/Decima survey found little public enthusiasm.

Only one in three respondents favoured a public inquiry, while 49 per cent said they preferred to avoid one and 17 per cent were unsure.

Pollster Bruce Anderson, president of Harris/Decima, says neither Mr. Mulroney nor Mr. Schreiber “enjoys strong credibility when it comes to statements about their relationship.”

Mr. Anderson said this may contribute to public ambivalence about the cost and effectiveness of a public inquiry.

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