(Formerly titled: The myth of political vendetta in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Airbus Affair investigation against former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and some community undercurrents against the RCMP)
The long awaited, long-overdue Canadian government inquiry into the Airbus Affair involving former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber, and millions of dollars in commissions rumored to have included kickbacks to Mr. Mulroney personally from a 1988 sale of European Airbus planes to Air Canada – a hot topic of Canadian federal politics for well over a decade, 1, 2 – is finally getting started at the end of this March 2009. How exciting it is for the Canadian political scene.
Or is it?
Not really. A Canadian government public inquiry headed by Justice Jeffrey J. Oliphant of Manitoba is indeed underway in its preliminary stage and the first phase of the inquiry into the facts will begin in late March in Ottawa. 3 But this inquiry is not about the Airbus Affair, only into allegations made by Mr. Schreiber in a civil lawsuit against Mulroney and during hearings held by the Canadian parliamentary Ethics Committee, in 2007-08, that he had a business service agreement in 1993 with Mr. Mulroney while the latter was still the prime minister, that he then in accordance gave Mr. Mulroney three cash payments totalling $300,000 during 1993-94 shortly after the latter had stepped down, and that Mr. Mulroney subsequently did nothing, or very little, to justify the payments. 4 Mr. Mulroney however stated during the Ethics Committee hearings that he got into some sort of business consulting arrangement with Mr. Schreiber only after he had left the prime minister position, that he has fully done his part in the agreement despite receiving only $225,000 (rather than the promised $300,000) from Mr. Schreiber, and that there is no need for a public inquiry. 5
How boring it is to do something there is no need, or only insignificant need for – even Justice Oliphant makes more than the money in question for his honourable work on the matter.
In fact, there might not have been any inquiry scheduled on any question about the ethics and conduct of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, at all, despite the kind of things that have dogged him since shortly after he became national leader and continued through when he was leaving office in 1993 and making decision to accept money from businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. 6, 7, 8 Represented by renowned Toronto criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan, Mr. Schreiber has been under increasing pressure since after he became a criminally accused fraudster in Germany in 1999 (a far cry from the earlier days when he was once a district court judge in Munich) related to a corruption scandal dogging former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl as well as to the Airbus Affair, facing deportation by Canadian authorities; but initially he continued to deny having any role in the Airbus Affair (or having given any money to Mulroney). 9, 10 Schreiber however began to realize that Mulroney was publicly turning negative toward him just as his political-connection fortune started declining – demonstrated in a CBC interview with Mulroney spokesman Luc Lavoie in October 1999 when Lavoie called Schreiber “the biggest f..king liar the world has ever seen” – and he decided to file a lawsuit to get $300,000 “compensatory damages” from Mulroney; that led to a media report in late 2000/early 2001 about Schreiber having paid Mulroney $300,000, and finally to November 2003 when Schreiber talked to one of the leading experts on the Airbus Affair, author William Kaplan, nonetheless emphasizing that the money was not part of any Airbus commission. 11 The breaking of silence by Mr. Schreiber came about seven months after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who had spent years investigating Mulroney’s role in the Airbus Affair, had announced in April 2003 that the Airbus Affair criminal investigation against Mulroney was terminated without finding evidence for a criminal proceeding against Mulroney. 12
Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber then became more and more indignant as his lost one after another legal battle to avoid extradition to Germany where he is to face criminal charges; he made appeals to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he was adamant that he is not going back there without being given the opportunity to account how he was ‘ripped off’ $300,000 by the (former) Canadian prime minister he has been dealing with in his second homeland since the early 1970s, and he talked about “public trust”, “clean up” and “fundamental justice” versus “abuse of power”, “criminal activity” and “totalitarian Governments”. 13
But it would not be an easy demand for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for whom Mr. Mulroney has been some sort of a patron since 2003-04 when Mulroney encouraged a merger between Harper’s up-and-coming but largely western Canada-based Canadian Alliance and his old, practically unelectable Progressive Conservative Party; 14 and in any case Prime Minister Harper’s staff did not even forward Schreiber’s letters to the prime minister: by the time Mr. Harper learned about Schreiber’s allegation of Mulroney taking $300,000 from Schreiber but doing no work (the first time sometime in early November 2007 according to the prime minister’s spokeswoman Sandra Buckler), the Canadian House of Commons Ethics Committee was already planning to fulfill Mr. Schreiber’s wish. 15
Prime Minister Harper then turned to an academic, Dr. David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo, to advise him what to do while the parliamentary ethics committee hearings featuring Schreiber, Mulroney, Mulroney’s long-time aide Fred Doucet and others were under way; Dr. Johnston reported back that there should be a limited public inquiry based on Karlheinz Schreiber’s allegations about Brian Mulroney, but that there is no necessity to include the Airbus Affair in the scope of the public inquiry because the RCMP had spent years conducting a criminal investigation into that, found “insufficient evidence” and closed its file; Dr. Johnston referred to the Airbus Affair as “this well-tilled ground”. 16
A bit of Mr. Harper’s favor for Mr. Mulroney, and a lot of ‘RCMP’s done that’, no wonder the Oliphant inquiry will be so limited in what it examines, i.e., without the Airbus Affair.
But wait. It turns out the Oliphant inquiry could still be more than only about the $300,000 or $225,000 in dispute between the two gentlemen, Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney. The Terms of Reference of the inquiry, as decided by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the recommendations of Dr. David Johnston, say to examine the “business and financial dealings between Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney”, and that what those dealings were is within the matters the Oliphant Commission will determine. 17
Well, Airbus kickbacks to Mr. Mulroney, from Mr. Schreiber directly for some job by Mr. Mulroney in the Prime Minister’s chair? Mr. Mulroney couldn’t be that dumb, could he? 18, 19, 20, 21
And so more of a bore it will be if others do not hear more surprises from Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber during these upcoming hearings of the Oliphant Commission.
Some people may raise objections to my above-expressed opinion right away, that maybe even the RCMP have beaten a ‘dead horse’ to death too many times, that there was indeed nothing there. For instance, when the RCMP in April 2003 announced termination of its Airbus Affair investigation, then Progressive Conservative MP, justice critic and leadership contender Peter Mackay, son of former Mulroney government’s solicitor general Elmer Mackay who has been a personal friend of Karlheinz Schreiber, commented, “It’s a sad comment that it took the RCMP this long to come to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to proceed”, and declared, “I see it as a total, unqualified vindication of Mr. Mulroney and his complete innocence in this entire affair”. 22, 23 Earlier, in August 1999 over two-and-a-half years after the Canadian government had settled a civil lawsuit with Mulroney, Mr. Mulroney’s spokesman Luc Lavoie made the accusation that there was a “political vendetta” behind the continuing RCMP criminal investigation (probably seeing that the investigation was going to continue well into the New Millennium). 24
An obvious counter-argument to the views dismissing any questionable role on the part of then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the 1988 Airbus deal or in the Airbus Affair, is that Karlheinz Schreiber himself used to be as righteous in his claim of not having had anything to do with the Airbus deal or any business dealing with Mr. Mulroney, and now in the past few years Mr. Schreiber not only stated openly that he had received millions of dollars of commissions from the Airbus company much of which he distributed to persons in Canada and that he had given Mr. Mulroney $300,000 (which was separate from the Airbus money), but also has become the greatest ‘crusader’ against Mulroney’s alleged abuse of public trust.
For instance, in an 1995 interview with Harvey Cashore of The Fifth Estate TV-program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – recalled by the CBC in October 1999 when its efforts to uncover the facts still did not receive cooperation from Schreiber – Mr. Schreiber said: 25
“I have told you already, whether you believe it or not: I played no role at all. I played no role at all on the Airbus”.
And yet by early November 2007 when he was trying hard to avoid extradition to Germany, railing against “abuse of power” by Mr. Mulroney earlier when the latter was prime minister, Mr. Schreiber took an extra legal step to try to expose Mulroney’s role in the Airbus Affair, a role that was connected to the company Government Consultants International, an Ottawa lobbying firm during the Mulroney era founded by Frank Moores, Mr. Mulroney’s appointee to the Air Canada board, according to a report in The Globe and Mail newspaper: 26
“An adviser to former prime minister Brian Mulroney asked Karlheinz Schreiber to transfer funds, made in connection with Air Canada’s 1988 purchase of Airbus airplanes, to Mr. Mulroney’s lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland, according to an affidavit sworn by Mr. Schreiber and filed Thursday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The affidavit states that Mr. Schreiber informed Mr. Mulroney during a meeting at Zurich’s Hotel Savoy on Feb. 2, 1998 that one of Mr. Mulroney’s closest friends and advisers, Fred Doucet, had asked him to transfer funds “related to the Airbus deal” from the lobby firm, Government Consultants International, or GCI, to Mr. Mulroney’s Swiss lawyer.”
Such new and shocking revelation would make one wonder what else important Mr. Schreiber may have yet to disclose (even if in the case of the above accusation Mr. Mulroney’s spokesman denied it, stating that Mr. Mulroney never had a lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland). 27
But despite the new revelations and claims from an important figure at the centre of the Airbus Affair, it is true that the RCMP had indeed investigated Mulroney’s role in the Airbus Affair for many years before closing its file on that, and therefore one may say that unlike the $300,000 not directly related to the Airbus deal Schreiber had given to Mulroney, Mr. Schreiber’s Airbus Affair-related new allegations against Mr. Mulroney may not be that credible.
The point I want to make here, though, is that the real facts may have been the opposite when it came to how vigorously, or not, the RCMP pursued Mr. Mulroney: amid the flurries of Schreiber’s new allegations, the frenzies of the start of parliamentary ethics committee hearings on the matter of the $300,000, and the publicity of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s request for an inquisition by Dr. David Johnston into whether a public inquiry should also cover the Airbus Affair, the RCMP announced that the agency long ago during its Airbus Affair investigation had learned of allegations about the $300,000, but could not confirm it or find out what it had been for and decided to let it go when closing the Airbus Affair investigation file in April 2003; the agency has promised to look into it now. 28
That makes one wonder what other leads there may have been that the RCMP did not follow and nail before closing the file and declaring Mr. Mulroney clean.
The only credibility of the “political vendetta” accusation from Mr. Mulroney since 1999, at this point today should be presumed as that the RCMP have taken too long to get here, yet without providing a good account of what the agency has found, or has done. The sheer length of the years it has taken no doubt has weighed heavily on Mr. Mulroney in his comfortable retirement away from active politics. However for that an RCMP spokesman had furnished an explanation earlier when Mr. Mulroney’s spokesman first called the continuing criminal investigation a “political vendetta”; Sgt. Mike Gaudet said in August 1999 that the Airbus case was one of the “complex cases” for which the RCMP was “going to encounter this kind of lengthy process”. 29
But what kind of a complex case was it, to justify that for the Airbus Affair investigation the RCMP never interviewed Karlheinz Schreiber – the number-one middleman at the centre of this tale of connections, money and kickbacks – before or after Sgt. Gaudet’s explanation in 1999? This rather shocking claim has been made by Mr. Schreiber in December 2007 in front of the parliamentary ethics committee; Mr. Schreiber also stated that he has not given Mr. Mulroney any Airbus commission; but an RCMP spokeswoman, Sgt. Sylvie Tremblay, quickly countered Schreiber’s version of story by stating that the agency interviewed him “numerous” times from 2000 forward. 30
This particular controversy about what the RCMP have or have not done in its Airbus Affair investigation is hardly unique. When the Airbus Affair first broke into news headlines in November 1995, the RCMP investigator at the time, Sgt. Fraser Fiegenwald, actually revealed that although the criminal investigation had been first set up in 1988-89 soon after the Air Canada-Airbus Industrie deal, not much was done until March 1995 when he received some media reports containing intense allegations against former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on the matter of kickbacks. 31
In November 1995 when the RCMP made the announcement that the agency would take a serious look into the Airbus Affair, there were suggestions from retired RCMP officers including former deputy commissioner Hank Jensen and former assistant commissioner Rod Stamler, that pressure from Brian Mulroney’s former Progressive Conservative government had prevented the investigation from moving forward since 1988-89, but there was also bemusement expressed by Art Hanger, then MP and justice critic for the Reform Party (predecessor of the Canadian Alliance which in 2003-04 merged with the Progressive Conservative and later formed the current Stephen Harper government), that the government of then Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien in November 1995 was notably silent about the matter. 32
And so you see, from 1989 to 1995 the RCMP had sit on a ‘nominal’ criminal investigation for 6 years, allegedly due to pressure from the Mulroney government (1984-1993), then for 4 years from 1995 to 1999 the RCMP presumably did not do much either (given the RCMP’s own admission that they started to interview Karlheinz Schreiber from the year 2000 forward), possibly to do with the Chretien Liberal government’s inaction, and then from 2000 to 2003 the investigation was likely more active – still under the Chretien government – when RCMP interviewed Karlheinz Schreiber “numerous” times by Sgt. Sylvie Tremblay’s account; but then the RCMP was unable to even figure out the $300,000 from Schreiber directly to Mulroney in spite of the many interviews with Schreiber, let alone uncover anything more elaborate.
Nowhere near “a total, unqualified vindication of Mr. Mulroney and his complete innocence in this entire affair” that Mr. Peter MacKay confidently declared in April 2003 after the RCMP announced termination of the Airbus Affair investigation.
As a matter of fact, as late as of 2006 an RCMP spokeswoman, Sgt. Nathalie Deschenes, still stated that “anybody” could bring new information on the Airbus Affair to the RCMP and a new investigation could be commenced, though some felt the agency had become intimidated by Mr. Mulroney’s past legal action. 33
But either the RCMP have indeed been this impotent, or regarding the Airbus Affair the agency has had leads it was unwilling to pursue, or information it was unwilling to disclose. The last of these scenarios, namely the RCMP’s unwillingness to disclose certain information (the particular information in question was not about Mulroney’s role in the Airbus Affair but about the extent of the RCMP investigation, and was wanted by Mr. Mulroney’s lawyers), was in fact instrumental behind the Canadian government’s decision to settle a civil lawsuit with Mr. Mulroney in January 1997, paying his legal expenses on his November 20, 1995 defamation lawsuit over a September 29, 1995 Airbus-Affair investigation letter sent to Swiss authorities containing criminally-accusatory language against him. 34 In this sense, whatever the RCMP have failed to achieve but have declared as completed without finding sufficient evidence, may have had more to do with certain institutional mindset, be it the RCMP or the Liberal government at the time. 35, 36
The fruitlessness of, and the long time taken by, the RCMP Airbus Affair investigation remind me of some comments in the American media about something in a different though not unrelated area, namely education: the Goals 2000 project in the United States started by former presidents George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton in the late 1980s/early 1990s, was supposed to bring national education standards to a world-leading level by the year 2000 but did not accomplish much (this has been discussed in my January 29, 2009 blog article, “Greeting the New Millennium – nearly a decade late”). Only that in the case of the Airbus Affair investigation by the RCMP and the Chretien Liberal government it appears that not much had been attempted until the year 2000, and little has been achieved afterwards.
1. Air Canada’s purchase of European Airbus planes in 1988 smelled of a possible scandal from the beginning, as the purchase deal by then government-owned Air Canada had been brokered by controversial German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber and (former) Air Canada board member Frank Moores who was a former Newfoundland premier and a close friend of then Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and as commissions of millions of dollars from Airbus Industrie were planned right from the start, to be distributed in private by Schreiber and Moores, see: Jeff Heinrich, “Whiff of scandal surrounded Airbus deal from the start; A bad ordor”, November 21, 1995, Edmonton Journal
2. Amid the Airbus Affair publicity there were some influential Canadians who took exception to the prevalent negative view about Karlheinz Schreiber’s way of doing business; one such notable person was then Supreme Court of Canada Justice John C. Major, who had previously acted as Schreiber’s lawyer in an Alberta provincial government inquiry into questionable real-estate dealings involving Schreiber in the city of Edmonton; Justice Major was quoted at the height of the Airbus Affair frenzies in December 1996 that his dealings with Schreiber had been “very honorable”, and that Schreiber had been “badly treated in the accusations” in Edmonton, see: Philip Mathias, “Out of the Shadows: The man at the centre of bribery allegations touching Brian Mulroney is the same person who engineered Airbus Industrie’s stunning penetration of North American markets in the past decade – Karlheinz Schreiber”, December 7, 1996, Financial Post
3. “Oliphant Commission Schedule”, official website of Commission of Inquiry into Certain Allegations Respecting Business and Financial Dealings Between Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (Oliphant Commission)
4. Karlheinz Schreiber’s allegations against Brian Mulroney were succinctly summarized in Dr. David Johnston’s first report submitted to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on January 9, 2008, see: David Johnston, “Report of the Independent Advisor into the Allegations Respecting Financial Dealings Between Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney”, January 9, 2008, official website of Government of Canada Privy Council Office
5. Nicole Baer and Meagan Fitzpatrick, “Mulroney says Schreiber credibility destroyed, no need for inquiry”, December 13, 2007, National Post
6. Before becoming leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and then Prime Minister in the early/mid-1980s, Brian Mulroney had been known for anti-corruption in his role as a member of the Cliche Commission in Montreal, see: Richard J. Doyle, “At last a chance to steer the ship”, September 17, 1984, The Globe and Mail; and, “Mulroney was lured by Liberals, book says”, October 30, 1984, The Globe and Mail
7. Credited by some for bringing Canada from a “welfare state” into “middle-class conservatism”, Brian Mulroney as prime minister was generous about spending government money for his position, see: David B. Wilson, “Orwell would cheer retreat of totalitarianism”, February 21, 1985, The Gazette; “With a hey nanny no”, April 1, 1985, The Globe and Mail; and, Patrick Doyle, “Mulroney takes 2 airplanes to preach restraint at home”, October 26, 1990, Toronto Star. Mr. Mulroney however seemed to have a sense that some things had been worse before he arrived in Ottawa, see: “I’ll look at claims of Hill corruption: PM”, July 9, 1985, The Gazette
8. The preferred lifestyle of Mr. Mulroney’s wife Mila (Pivnicki) Mulroney contributed to her husband’s lavish personal spending as prime minister, and to his desperate need for money when he was retiring in 1993, and that was when Karlheinz Schreiber discussed with him about $500,000 for him, which would in the end be only $300,000 (or $225,000 according to Mulroney), see: Mary Janigan and Paul Gessell, “The tastes of the Mulroney family”, April 27, 1987, Maclean’s Magazine; Marina Jimenez, “Even Tories condemn Mulroney furniture deal”, July 10, 1993, The Ottawa Citizen; Annabelle King, “The Mila touch; Before the Mulroneys settle into 47 Forden Cres. renovations will cost almost $1 million”, August 7, 1993, The Ottawa Citizen; and, Juliet O’Neill and Jack Aubry, “Mulroney ‘needed money,’ Schreiber tells MPs”, November 29, 2007, National Post
9. Toronto lawyer brothers Edward Greenspan and Brian Greenspan have been considered as the best criminal lawyers in Canada, who have represented famous clients in difficult criminal cases, including Karlheinz Schreiber, and media baron Conrad Black in his fraud case in the United States, see: Jack Batten, “Criminal Minds”, April 2007, Toronto Life. The criminal case of Conrad Black who ended up in a U.S. jail has also been discussed in my January 29, 2009 blog article: “Greeting the New Millennium – nearly a decade late”
10. In late 1999 when the role of Karlheinz Schreiber in a top leadership-level German political scandal was widely known in Europe, where he was viewed more as an arms dealer, and German criminal charges he was facing included tax evasion on Airbus commissions, Schreiber still denied having any role in the Airbus Affair, or having given any money to Brian Mulroney, see: “The mysterious dealmaker”, October 20, 1999, The fifth estate, CBC News; Philip Mathias, “Schreiber’s lawyer says the fifth estate ‘out of control’: CBC spokesman denies allegations it acted unethically”, October 22, 1999, Financial Post; Heath Jon McCoy, “Germany ‘overstating case’ on extradition request: Lawyer for Schreiber says Airbus businessman should not be sent back for tax evasion charges”, November 16, 1999, Ottawa Citizen; and, Imre Karacs, “Kohl scandal: Europe’s old master admits he ran secret slush funds: Suitcase of cash given to arms dealer by senior party officials reveals existence of covert fund operated by former Chancellor”, December 1, 1999, The Independent
11. “Money, Truth & Spin: Key Characters, Karlheinz Schreiber”, February 8, 2006, The fifth estate, CBC News; and, William Kaplan, “Schreiber hired Mulroney”, November 10, 2003, The Globe and Mail; I have not been able to locate a copy of the late 2000/early 2001 media report by Philip Mathias of the National Post/Financial Post as referred to in Kaplan’s article, and according to author Stevie Cameron the late 2000/early 2001 story was suppressed from appearing by then National Post’s editor-in-chief Ken Whyte, see: Kimberley Noble, “Stevie Cameron and the Mounties, 1994-2004”, website of author Stevie Cameron
12. Tim Harper, “Mulroney feels ‘vindicated’ as Airbus saga finally ends; Mounties close investigation of jetliner deal; Kickback probe haunted ex-PM for 8 years”, April 23, 2003, Toronto Star; and, Don Sellar, “Less than a scandal, hard on the eyes”, November 15, 2003, Toronto Star
13. “Schreiber calls on Tories to come through with Airbus inquiry: MacKay, Strahl demanded public probe while still Opposition MPs”, March 22, 2007, CBC News; and, Karlheinz Schreiber, ““Political Justice Scandal”, The “Airbus Affair” & Brian Mulroney Abuse of Public Trust””, September 26, 2007, Karlheinz Schreiber letter to Prime Minister Stephen Joseph Harper, provided online by Toronto Star
14. Bruce Cheadle, “Mulroney aiding MacKay’s efforts to unite the right”, October 3, 2003, The Kingston Whig-Standard; and, Don Cheadle, “Harper seeking advice from former PM Mulroney on transition Tory government”, May 6, 2004, Canadian Press NewsWire
15. Jack Aubry, “Ethics committee could examine Mulroney affair; Schreiber payment”, November 8, 2007, National Post; and, Canadian Press, “Schreiber letter withheld from Harper, bureaucrats say”, November 12, 2007, Toronto Star
16. “Bigger than Airbus, says Schreiber; ‘Starts in the ‘80s’”, November 15, 2007, National Post; “Schreiber’s confusing testimony; Latest tale directly implicates Mulroney in Airbus, but MPs question credibility”, December 7, 2007, The Record; Juliet O’Neill, “Mulroney denies wrongdoing before ethics committee”, December 14, 2007, CanWest News; David Johnston, “Report of the Independent Advisor into the Allegations Respecting Financial Dealings Between Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney”, January 9, 2008, official website of Government of Canada Privy Council Office; and, Greg McArthur, “Set up controversial meetings, Doucet to testify at ethics committee”, February 12, 2008, The Globe and Mail
17. “Terms of Reference”, official website of Commission of Inquiry into Certain Allegations Respecting Business and Financial Dealings Between Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (Oliphant Commission)
18. A long time ago – during 1992-1993 – while a faculty member at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and afterwards, I was involved in some activities related to academic politics and Canadian politics (briefly alluded to in my January 29, 2009 blog article, “Greeting the New Millennium – nearly a decade late”); in a press release I wrote and sent to some media outlets, CBC-TV Vancouver especially, dated November 20, 1992, I made the following statement regarding some of what I viewed as then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s misconduct during the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional processes: “They like to say Mr. Mulroney never learns. Well, he can’t be that dumb, can he?” I note that a ‘legal guardian’ of a sort for German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber then in Alberta, Justice John C. Major, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada around this time – on November 13, 1992, see: Sean Fine, “Albertan named to Supreme Court; Long-time lawyer has Tory ties, less than two years on bench”, November 14, 1992, The Globe and Mail; and, Philip Mathias, “Out of the Shadows: The man at the centre of bribery allegations touching Brian Mulroney is the same person who engineered Airbus Industrie’s stunning penetration of North American markets in the past decade – Karlheinz Schreiber”, December 7, 1996, Financial Post
19. Despite his lifetime denial to the contrary, former Newfoundland premier Frank Moores, a close friend of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, lobbied for and helped complete the 1988 $1.8 billion Air Canada purchase of European Airbus planes; Moores had to resign from the Air Canada’s board of directors to which he had been appointed by Mulroney, ahead of the completion of the deal because of political controversy; after Karlheinz Schreiber received around $20 million dollars of commissions from Airbus Industrie (an amount according to himself), Moores billed Schreiber at least a confirmed $1.3 million for his part of the commissions; the conventional wisdom is that Moores was a middle man for Schreiber in distributing millions of dollars of commissions to others in Canada; see: “’Hounded’ Moores quits Air Canada board”, September 7, 1985, The Gazette; Linda Diebel, “Air Canada deal questioned”, April 16, 1988, Toronto Star; Greg McArthur, “Despite denials, Moores worked on Airbus file”, November 14, 2007, The Globe and Mail; Kevin Cavanagh, “U.S. critical of lobbyist’s role; Documents point finger at Frank Moores, the ex-Newfoundland premier and Mulroney friend”, November 16, 2007, Toronto Star; Geoffrey Stevens, “Mulroney inquiry won’t wash away stench of Airbus”, January 14, 2008, The Record; and, Peter Walsh, “Moores’ fax details Airbus money: handwritten note from former premier breaks down secret commissions”, April 12, 2008, The Telegram
20. Mr. Frank Moores, the crucial middle man in the Airbus Affair, is dead and therefore cannot be questioned by the Oliphant Commission in the upcoming limited public inquiry or by any broader investigation/inquiry processes that might be conducted in the future; Mr. Moores died of liver cancer on July 10, 2005; not long afterwards on August 3, 2005, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlan of the Supreme Court of Canada announced the early retirement of Justice John C. Major who happened to be one of the rare influential Canadians personally positive about Karlheinz Schreiber, to take place on Christmas Day 2005 two months ahead of his mandatory retirement at 75; see: “Frank Moores, 72: Nfld.’s first Tory premier”, July 11, 2005, Toronto Star; Philip Mathias, “Out of the Shadows: The man at the centre of bribery allegations touching Brian Mulroney is the same person who engineered Airbus Industrie’s stunning penetration of North American markets in the past decade – Karlheinz Schreiber”, December 7, 1996, Financial Post; and, “Supreme Court justice to retire; Departure date Christmas Day; John Major joined top court in 1992”, August 4, 2005, Toronto Star.
21. The time around the liver-cancer death of Mr. Frank Moores and the announcement of Justice John Major’s retirement would happen to be also a very difficult time in my personal life: my father, a professor of philosophy in Canton, China (see my January 29, 2009 blog article for a discussion on the city of Canton, and China, “Greeting the New Millennium – nearly a decade late”), who happened to have been born exactly 76 years ago on the date of this February 20, 2009 blog article, exactly two years after Justice Major was born, and exactly two days after Premier Moores was born, was having serious heart-exhaustion problems and would die of heart failure on August 10, 2005, exactly one month after Frank Moores; being in a difficult situation here in Canada myself I did not receive adequate notice of the gravity of my father’s situation and missed being with my father at his final moment, whom I had not seen since just before Christmas in 2001. The several days around my father’s death were also turbulent in Canadian and international human affairs of relevant interest: three days prior on August 7 Peter Jennings, ABC News anchor and probably the most recognizable Canadian in the world, who had just celebrated his 67th birthday on July 29, died of lung cancer; one day prior on August 9 Dana Reeve, widow of ‘Superman’ actor Christopher Reeve who had died of paralysis from a 1995 horse-riding accident, announced her recent lung-cancer diagnosis as well despite being a non-smoker (she would died of it in March 2006); and two days afterward on August 12 Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, former head of West German domestic intelligence and junior defence minister under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, was sentenced to jail for accepting bribes from Karlheinz Schreiber in an arms sale to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War, after being on the lam from authorities for several years in Hong Kong, Jakarta, Madrid, Montreal and Paris, and despite court testimonies in favor of him from former Chancellor Kohl and former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher; see: Roger Cohen with John Tagliabue, “Big kickbacks under Kohl reported”, February 7, 2000, The New York Times; “Fugitive Pfahls comes home – to prison: Former junior cabinet minister Holger Pfahls, one of Germany’s most wanted men, was returned to the country Thursday after being captured in France last year”, January 20, 2005, Deutsche Welle; Ben Aris, “Tight-lipped Kohl gives Germans few answers at corruption trial”, August 4, 2005, The Globe and Mail; Tony Atherton, “Jennings last in line of serious newsmen”, August 9, 2005, Leader-Post; Associated Press, “Dana Reeve thinks of husband as she battles cancer”, August 9, 2005, North County Times; Aron Heller, “Jennings learned of honour days before his death: Toronto-born newsman wins Order of Canada”, August 11, 2005, Calgary Herald; “German ex-minister gets prison time: A German court on Friday sentenced Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, a former deputy defense minister, to 27 months in prison on bribery and tax evasion charges on an arms deal”, August 12, 2005, Deutsche Welle; Edward Greenspon, “Jennings kept a Canadian voice in the trenches of American media”, August 13, 2005, The Globe and Mail; and, “Christopher Reeve’s widow never smoked, died of lung cancer”, March 8, 2006, National Post
22. Mr. Peter MacKay’s father, former Mulroney government solicitor general Elmer MacKcay and former Pierre Trudeau Liberal government justice minister Marc Lalonde guaranteed part of a $1 million bail for Karlheinz Schreiber’s release from extradition detention, see: Bruce Cheadle, “Marathon Airbus probe ends with a whimper”, April 23, 2003, Kingston Whig-Standard
23. Peter MacKay later became leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and agreed to merge the party with Stephen Harper’s Canadian Alliance to become the new opposition Conservative Party, in government today; in April 2003 the PC party leader was former Prime Minister Joe Clark, a former leadership rival, long-time partner in government and ideological opposite of Brian Mulroney; Mr. Clark had been deposed in his earlier stint as PC party leader in 1983, by Mr. Mulroney with the help of, among others, former Newfoundland premier Frank Moores and German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber – two personalities later at the centre of the Airbus Affair after Mulroney became prime minister; see: Wayne Skene, “Airbus saga captivating: Greasing wheels for deals: Politics”, May 6, 2001, Edmonton Journal; and, Geoffrey Stevens, “Canadians are entitled to know about ethical lapses of the past”, January 14, 2008, The Guelph Mercury
24. Mr. Mulroney spokesman Luc Lavoie’s calling the continuing RCMP criminal investigation a “political vendetta”, came in August 1999 just days before the RCMP would arrest Karlheinz Schreiber in Toronto to try to deport him to Germany to face criminal charges there; it would take almost another 4 years before the RCMP would close the investigation without finding sufficient evidence against Mulroney; see: Tu Thanh Ha and Robert Matas, “Mulroney denounces Airbus ‘vendetta’; But Chretien denies political interference”, August 19, 1999, The Globe and Mail; Lawrence Martin, “Chretien’s revenge: Is PM on vendetta against Brian Mulroney and Conrad Black?”, August 24, 1999, The Gazette; Robert Howard, “RCMP should have ended Airbus probe years ago”, April 24, 2003, The Spectator; and, “Money, Truth & Spin: Key Characters, Karlheinz Schreiber”, February 8, 2006, The fifth estate, CBC News
25. “The mysterious dealmaker”, October 20, 1999, The fifth estate, CBC News
26. Greg McArthur, “Mulroney adviser asked Schreiber to transfer Airbus funds, affidavit alleges”, November 8, 2007, The Globe and Mail
27. Several months before his filing at court of an affidavit alleging that Mulroney had asked him for Airbus money, Karlheinz Schreiber wrote a letter to Mulroney in May 2007 threatening to expose Mulroney for accepting Airbus-related money (i.e., in addition to the $300,000 from Schreiber) from Government Consultants International, see: Jack Aubry and Juliet O’Neill, “Schreiber gave Mulroney ‘last warning,’ threatened in letter to expose payments; German-Canadian raised Airbus in plea for help in extradition fight”, December 6, 2007, The Ottawa Citizen; Schreiber’s allegations have been partially corroborated by his former accountant, Swiss businessman Giorgio Pelossi, in the latter’s testimony in front of the parliamentary ethics committee, who stated that Schreiber opened Swiss bank accounts for Airbus commissions for Mulroney and Frank Moores although money was never transferred into these particular accounts; see: Jack Aubry, “Swiss account meant for Mulroney, Commons ethics committee hears”, February 15, 2008, Star-Phoenix; Mulroney’s former chief of staff Norman Spector has also revealed that after leaving a former chief of staff position Fred Doucet became a lobbyist in Ottawa and from time to time would bring persons to meet with Mulroney, and that those appointments were not booked through or recorded by the Prime Minister’s Office, see: Norman Spector, “Afterward”, in A Secret Trial: Brian Mulroney and the Public Trust, by William Kaplan, 2008, McGill-Queen’s University Press
28. In addition to the RCMP’s own admission that the agency had known rumors about the $300,000, Karlheinz Schreiber’s former accountant Giorgio Pelossi told the parliamentary ethics committee that he had told the RCMP as early as in March 1996 about a Swiss bank account intended for Mulroney, see: CanWest News Service, “RCMP and public inquiry to review Mulroney-Schreiber affair”, November 14, 2007, The Ottawa Citizen; Jack Aubry, “RCMP knew about Mulroney cash allegation”, November 16, 2007, Calgary Herald; and, Bruce Cheadle, “RCMP heard kickback allegations months before Mulroney libel payout”, February 15, 2008, Telegraph-Journal
29. “Mulroney probe isn’t Liberal vendetta: RCMP”, August 19, 1999, Kingston Whig-Standard
30. Bruce Cheadle, “Never questioned by RCMP on Airbus: Schreiber; German-Canadian businessman granted bail, some of which is put up by ex-Liberal cabinet minister; Says Mulroney never took money for Airbus deal”, December 4, 2007, Toronto Star
31. For an early report on RCMP Sgt. Fraser Fiegenwald’s revelation in November 1995, see: Canadian Press, “RCMP taking second run at Airbus deal, after 6 years”, November 14, 1995, Canadian Press NewsWire. For an overview of the Airbus Affair up to that point, see: Andrew McIntosh, “Guide to Airbus Affair”, December 2, 1995, The Gazette
32. Paul Palango, “Canada ignores a scandal; $40 million in Airbus kickbacks gets a yawn instead of an inquiry”, June 1, 1995, The Gazette; and, Carolyn Abraham, “Airbus Affair: Innuendo has followed $1.8B deal since takeoff; Rumors of influence peddling, bribes never let up”, November 19, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen
33. Elizabeth Thompson, “RCMP says request by ‘anybody’ could lead to new Airbus probe”, February 11, 2006, Times-Colonist
34. From November 1995 to January 1997, Mr. Mulroney mounted an aggressive legal offence over his being accused of criminal activities – in a letter the Government of Canada sent internationally – without sufficient evidence; he assembled a high-powered legal team for his $50 million libel lawsuit, which included former deputy justice minister Roger Tasse and was headed by lawyer Gerald Tremblay, then chairman of Canada’s largest law firm McCarthy Tetrault; Mulroney’s legal team composed a list of 100 questions (in contrast to the Canadian government’s 46) to ask Swiss official Pascal Gossin, but encountered official objections from the RCMP on 8 of the 100 questions; after a court-filed certificate of objection from then RCMP deputy commissioner Frank Palmer, who was also a lawyer, was overruled by a judge in the Quebec court, the government immediately settled with Mulroney and agreed to pay his legal and public-relations costs; see: Estanislao Oziewicz, “RCMP object to some Airbus queries; Mulroney spokesman scoffs at claim foreign relations would suffer if questions allowed”, November 6, 1996, The Globe and Mail; “Ex-PM’s lawyers win important pre-trial battle”, January 4, 1997, Times-Colonist; Sandro Contenta, “’A case like no other’; After months of speculation, innuendo and hearsay, the Airbus case finally lands in court Monday. And as a proud Brian Mulroney takes on Canada to clear his name amid allegations of kickbacks, lawyers for the government insist the defendants were only doing their jobs. The stakes, like the drama. are high”, January 4, 1997, Toronto Star; Sandro Contenta, “Mulroney’s reputation restored, lawyers say; But ‘lies’ may stick ‘for a long time’ in some minds, they say”, January 7, 1997, Toronto Star; and, Jim Bronskill, “RCMP vindicate Mulroney”, April 23, 2003, The Gazette
35. While many questions were raised about the performance of the RCMP and the Canadian government in their handling of the Airbus Affair, including about the language used in documents accusing Mulroney, about information leaks to the media, about RCMP investigative and supervisory procedures, and about possible Liberal government intervention in RCMP investigation, then Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the RCMP – at the time and later – largely refused to disclose more information to the public about these matters; see: Philip Authier, “Chretien refuses to call probe over Airbus: While on a trade mission to Asia, the PM is forced to answer questions about government and RCMP handling of the affair”, January 11, 1997, The Vancouver Sun; Tim Harper and Derek Ferguson, “Airbus letter puts heat on top Mountie; Botched probe casts force in role of bumblers”, January 11, 1997, Toronto Star; Gord McIntosh, “Airbus Mountie quits as charges dropped: Opposition demands to know who the real ‘leak’ was in Airbus case”, October 30, 1997, The Record; Stevie Cameron, “RCMP not source of leak for writer on Airbus stories”, October 18, 1998, Edmonton Journal; and, “Chretien denies prior knowledge of Airbus affair”, November 4, 1998, Star-Phoenix
36. Related to its Airbus Affair investigation on former prime minister Brian Mulroney, the RCMP in October 2002 charged a company and two German executives for illegal kickbacks on the Canadian Coast Guard purchase of helicopters; the helicopters were made by Eurocopter Canada based at Fort Erie, Ontario, a subsidiary of German aerospace and defence company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) which was connected to Airbus Industrie and to Karlheinz Schreiber and Frank Moores; so the efforts of the RCMP have not been completely without result, except the charges were later thrown out by the judges; see: Linda Diebel, “Air Canada deal questioned”, April 16, 1988, Toronto Star; “Choppers, plots, and cold hard cash”, March 14, 2001, The fifth estate, CBC News; Mike Blanchfield, “Fraud charges laid in chopper deal: Firm connected to government Sea King purchase charged in kickback scheme”, October 19, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen; Jake Rupert, “Eurocopter, Schreiber dealt legal setbacks”, April 9, 2004, The Ottawa Citizen; Jake Rupert, “Eurocopter cleared of fraud charges: Company’s actions unethical but legal, judge rules”, November 26, 2005, Kingston Whig-Standard; Tracey Tyler, “Crown admits defeat in Airbus affair; Charges against Eurocopter thrown out for second time”, September 13, 2006, The Record; and, William Marsden, “Mulroney no pauper; Former PM knew he’d have soft landing: sources”, November 24, 2007, Calgary Herald