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Globe Roundtable

Our weekly panel weighs in on the Oliphant inquiry, Ruby Dhalla's woes and Gordon Campbell's re-election in B.C.

Globe and Mail Update

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Edward Greenspon: Hello, I'm Edward Greenspon, editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail. Welcome to the Globe Roundtable, the place for intelligent discussion of the issues of the day. Jeffrey Simpson wrote in today's Globe and Mail that "he sticks to us still" — he is Brian Mulroney and the former prime minister's testifying this week to a public inquiry called to look into cash payments he received in hotel rooms after leaving office 15 years ago from German-Canadian influence-peddler Karlheinz Schreiber.

We'll talk this morning about the spectacle and the substance and whether anyone really wants for him to stick to us still, and whether it's fair to him and whether it's, there's still questions to answer there.

As well we'll touch on last night's election verdict in British Columbia, and finally the rumblings out there about the relationship between the political class and the public service in Ottawa in the wake of announced departure of privy council clerk, Kevin Lynch.

So let's get at it. Joining me today are our Globe Roundtable regulars: Doug McArthur, the distinguished fellow in public policy at Simon Frasier University, a former cabinet minister in Saskatchewan and deputy minister to two premiers in British Columbia; Jodi White, former chief of staff to Joe Clark and Kim Campbell and currently a public policy scholar at Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington; and John Manley, senior counsel at the law firm of McCarthy Tetrault and Canada's former minister of industry, finance, foreign affairs and deputy prime minister. Welcome to you all.

Well, let's start with Mulroney, the Oliphant Inquiry into Karlheinz Schreiber and Brian Mulroney and their dealings. Yesterday we had a former prime minister, the former prime minister on the stand. He testified obviously before the House Ethics Committee last year. And yesterday I think was sort of the warm-up, where you lob the ball back and forth between him and his lawyer. Nonetheless he will be facing questions probably all week long.

I'm wondering to start with if you know there's questions to answer here and if he's satisfying you. We discussed this a little bit before. Some of you think that this is old news, and a waste of our time. Are you feeling empathy for the former prime minister? Jodi?

Jodi White: Well I think it's all very tragic. I guess that's the word that comes to my mind as I watch it all. Clearly I mean he's got three more days. We have no idea what's going to come out. I mean this has been a very slippery business on all sides and that's clearly evidence. You know he admitted the lack of his own record keeping which is pretty appalling and does raise questions.

And, on the other hand, Karlheinz seems to have kept thousands of records of everything and we still don't know all of it. In fact I take it more of it is coming out now in terms of his appointment books and things. But I do, I guess I still feel a little bit that I'm not sure this is going anywhere. I think it's always going to be, it's going to be smelly, it's going to remain smelly. I'm not sure we're going to learn anything. I mean in terms of this inquiry they're supposed to be looking at the payments, and not at Airbus, but it suddenly slides into Airbus on all of the answers it appears.

So I'm not too sure what Commissioner Oliphant is going to do about that. But you know I look at it and say the RCMP investigated the Airbus thing for many, many years and finally closed that case. And so that's probably why I don't think we're going to learn anything more here. And, you know I sort of in truth wish we would just send Karlheinz back to Germany where he belongs and let them deal with him, because he has got us helping him out. There's no doubt about that in terms of him avoiding his own you know coming to terms with what he's done over in Germany. So , but that's a confused answer probably because I probably have many emotions about it ---

Edward Greenspon: John, one of the things we've learned is that Senator Lowell Murray who was cabinet minister for the Atlantic Development Agency said he wants to move this thing to a next level of approval, this Bear Head plant, and that triggered payments to Karlheinz Schreiber and that $90,000 ended up with Mr. Doucet. Are those kinds of things, learning that kind of thing make this worthwhile?

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