The myth of political vendetta in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Airbus Affair investigation, the politics of Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, and some social undercurrents in Canada (Part 6)

(Continued from Part 5, previous blog post)

American James C. Kopp, long-time anti-abortion activist serving a life sentence since 2007 for the 1998 murder of Amherst, N.Y. abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, is a main suspect in the 1994 shooting of Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) abortion doctor Gary Romalis; a Canadian warrant for Kopp was issued for the 1995 shooting of abortion doctor Hugh Short in Ancaster, Ontario, though the prosecution has recently decided to stay the charges; Kopp is also a main suspect in the 1997 shooting of abortion doctor Jack Fainman of Winnipeg. 222

In the New York case, two anti-abortion activists harbouring and helping Kopp, Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi, received light penalties. 223

As previously discussed, the Romalis shooting incident in November 1994 turned the Canadian medical community into showing strong support for justice minister Allan Rock’s stricter gun-control legislation, which was unveiled on November 30, 1994 and included a ban on military-type weapons, one of which – an AK-47 – had been responsible for wounding Dr. Romalis.

There has been no press report of any identified suspect in the second, knife attack on Dr. Romalis in July 2000, which took place at my former medical clinic headed by my family physician Dr. James K. Lai, where Dr. Romalis practiced after retiring from the VGH.

But recently on May 31, 2009, only days after the Canadian charges were dropped against Kopp in the Dr. Short case, American abortion doctor George Tiller, who had previously been shot and wounded and who had lectured to abortion providers in Vancouver at the invitation of Dr. Romalis, was gunned down in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, becoming the first dead doctor of anti-abortion violence in the U.S. after Kopp’s killing of Dr. Slepian; the main suspect, Scott Roeder, had been a member of an extreme Christian militia group, the Freeman movement. 224

When the gun-control bill was officially put to the legislative process in February 1995, it was on St. Valentine’s Day, “known as the day of the St. Valentine’s Massacre”, noted John Perrochio, president of the Canadian Firearms Action Council, referring to a rival-gang slaughtering in 1929 Prohibition-era Chicago, in which the killers dressed as policemen, and behind which control of illegal liquor from Canada by the notorious gangster boss Al Capone was apparently a motivating factor. 225, 226, 227

The Chretien Liberal government’s gun-control bill immediately won praise from U.S. president Bill Clinton, whose own 1994 legislation on banning assault weapons had been lauded in Canada by Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control, in the wake of the Dr. Romalis shooting in Vancouver; in a speech to the Canadian parliament, Clinton compared Canada’s move “to outlaw automatic weapons designed for killing and not hunting”, to universal healthcare Canada had – something Clinton had also tried to introduce in the United States but failed. 228

In the same speech in February, Clinton was even more passionate appealing for Canadian national unity, citing the words of Harry Truman in 1947 praising Canadian unity and progress, but Clinton also emphasized that the political future of Canada was “entirely” for Canada to decide; the latter position was comforting enough to the opposition Bloc Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard and his over 50 MPs in the House of Commons.

Lucien Bouchard had once been a Quebec-separatist friend of Brian Mulroney’s recruited into his government, who then split with him in 1990 near the time of the failure of the Meech Lake constitutional accord to give Quebec a “distinct society” status, founding the first separatist party at the federal level; in the 1993 election the party took over many of the former Mulroney Tory seats in Quebec. 229

Timing of Clinton’s appeal was significant, as a Quebec referendum on independence was being planned for the fall of 1995 by the recently elected Parti Quebecois government of premier Jacques Parizeau’s in Quebec, with support expressed by the government of France; with Bloc Quebecois designated the Official Opposition in the Canadian parliament, the Quebec sovereignty-independence movement – historically a mix of French ethnic nationalism and anti-colonial liberation ideology whose sympathizers and cheer leaders had included Charles de Gaulle of France – was reaching a new height; despite reservation expressed by prime minister Jean Chretien, Clinton during this official visit to Canada held a meeting with the leader of ‘Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition’ who was recuperating from amputation of his left leg and hip due to an 80%-fatal flesh-eating disease he had contracted on November 28, 1994 – one day after officially launching a Bloc Quebecois campaign for the referendum. 230

During that same spring of 1995, efforts by the media and by the RCMP to pursue former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s possible corruption were also expanding, following the October 1994 publication of Stevie Cameron’s book exposing Mulroney-era corruption. Cameron’s book had become not only a bestseller alongside books such as Open Secrets by Alice Munro, but a favorite Christmas gift. 231

In January, the press reported that author Peter C. Newman living in a “Kitsilano tower” in Vancouver was writing a revealing book on the Mulroney era to be published in September 1995, that Newman had collected materials from Mulroney himself and persons in his circle including Frank Moores and Fred Doucet, and also obtained “proof” about certain controversial episodes involving Mulroney in the late period of the Meech Lake accord – in relation to Lucien Bouchard and to Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells whose final refusal to put it to a vote in the provincial legislature ended the accord. 232

Also in January, RCMP investigators Sergeant Fraser Fiegenwald and Inspector Carl Gallant visited Stevie Cameron after listening to her talking about her book on the CBC Radio program The House; they told her that in 1988 there had been a brief FBI investigation on the Airbus sale to Air Canada but that the Canadian government and police had been unwilling to cooperate; she told them in return her experience that interviewing people in Europe had been more helpful. 233

In March, CBC’s The Fifth Estate aired an episode on the Airbus story, alleging that Airbus Industrie paid secret commissions to Karlheinz Schreiber to smooth the 1988 sale of Airbus A320 planes to Air Canada, and that Swiss bank accounts were opened by Schreiber for Frank Moores and for an unidentified Canadian politician; part of the information aired came from Cameron’s file she had gathered for her book, and all of the materials in her file were also reported by the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the der Spiegel magazine in Munich, Germany. 234

But while Cameron’s book continued its popularity, other media venues and the public at-large continued to ignore the Airbus issue raised in the book and now being covered by The Fifth Estate. 235 The RCMP kept existence of the criminal investigation from public knowledge until November 1995 when a September 29 letter to the Swiss authorities caused extreme reactions from Mulroney, as previously discussed, and brought the issue into high media profile.

Meanwhile, the Chretien government encountered some serious opposition within the Liberal party caucus to the gun-control legislation, especially on the national gun registry – police registration of every gun and every gun owner in Canada. 236

The size of the Liberal internal opposition was a concern for Jean Chretien: in the first vote in the House of Commons which the Liberals easily won, 3 Liberal MPs voted against the bill, 49 of the 177 majority Liberal MPs (in a parliament of around 300 MPs) were absent and as many as 30 of them stayed away to show their opposition; at a caucus meeting before the vote Chretien had warned his MPs to vote with the party, and after the vote he quickly stripped all parliamentary committee positions from the 3 Liberals Benoit Serre, Paul Steckle, and Rex Crawford who had voted no regardless – despite their claims that they represented the anti-gun-control sentiments of their rural riding constituents. 237

Chretien also planned to enforce party discipline in the same manner with the hate-crime bill protecting minority rights (including homosexual rights) that was being processed through the parliament in parallel to the gun-control bill.

Compared to the previously discussed case of Stan Wilbee in November 1992, i.e., the lone Tory MP publicly calling for a leadership review on Brian Mulroney and asked to resign his B.C. caucus chair by justice minister Kim Campbell, that Wilbee in the end not only retained the caucus chair and kept his chair at the Commons committee on health issues but also got to embark on leading a new parliamentary probe into the HIV-tainted blood-supply issue, Chretien’s measures in April 1995 seemed harsh.

Comparison to Mulroney – on lack of democracy within the party – was evident: it was acknowledged by Liberal party whip Don Boudria who had often criticized Mulroney for “muzzling independent thought” in the Tory caucus, but who now denied that the Liberal party was doing the same; 238 also, mirroring in late January 1993 when then Tory house leader Harvie Andre told the media about a minority in the Tory party and caucus wanting Mulroney to resign (as previously discussed), Bob Speller, chair of the rural Liberal caucus who had advised rural Liberal MPs inclined to vote ‘no’ to skip the first vote instead, was reported as saying the 49 Liberal MPs who had not shown up for the first vote could vote ‘no’ in the final vote: 239

“Liberal MP Bob Speller, chair of the 60-member rural Liberal caucus, says the media wrongly focused on the three MPs: Benoit Serre (Timiskaming-French River), Rex Crawford (Kent) and Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce).

More significant, he suggested, were the 49 Liberal MPs who abstained or
deliberately avoided the Commons vote.

“A majority of these MPs will take a stronger stand at third (and final) reading if there aren’t changes,” Speller predicted in an interview. “Many of these are new MPs who got elected on the basis of being able to stand up for their constituents.

“Now people are saying the government shouldn’t be silencing MPs for representing their constituents.””

Across the aisle from among the opposition Reform party, a lone MP (and future prime minister) Stephen Harper voted for the gun-control legislation in this first vote, as did one of the only two Tory MPs, Elsie Wayne. 240

Like the Bloc Quebecois led by Tory-breakaway MP Lucien Bouchard taking many formerly Tory seats in Quebec, the Reform party formerly represented by only one MP Deborah Grey and led by party leader Preston Manning outside the parliament, took most of the western Canada rural ridings (particularly in Alberta) from the Tories in the 1993 election, also winning over 50 seats and just two fewer than Bloc Quebecois. 241 On conservative issues such as against gun control, the Reform party became the Liberals’ main opposition in the House of Commons – even though Reform had championed an anti-crime platform (as mentioned before).

Since before the 1993 election polls had consistently showed that a majority of Canadians, including most Albertans, supported stricter gun control, including mandatory gun registration: nationally, support for a gun registry was 86% in September 1993, and by late May 1995 with the legislation near final vote it was still 71% and higher than support for the full bill at 64%. 242

Despite the high poll numbers supporting it, besides the Reform party and the pro-gun groups there were other public shows of opposition to the gun-control bill.

One high-profile act of opposition came from Justice Jean-Claude Angers of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, who wrote an open letter to prime minister Jean Chretien and the MPs, calling the gun-control proposal ”serious infringements of the rights to security and enjoyment of the person and to own property”; two law professors complained about his conduct to the Canadian Judicial Council, and Angers received a public reprimand from council chair, B.C. Chief Justice Allan McEachern, about his “highly partisan attack” on a proposal that could become law which he would often need to interpret and enforce; Angers did not receive any disciplinary penalty but he had been in the process of a transfer to the lower Court of the Queen’s Bench when he publicly aired his opinion. 243

Another high-profile act of opposition, that of backtracking from supporting, curiously came from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), which had become a strong public supporter of gun control after the shooting of Dr. Gary Romalis in November 1994: the association still stood by its support for banning military-type assault weapons, one of which had wounded Dr. Romalis, but changed its position on the gun registry – also the main point of contention for the dissident rural Liberal MPs – and questioned its effectiveness for violent-crime reduction; the reversal caught justice minister Allan Rock by surprise, but the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians continued to support the gun registry. 244

Within the notion of a universal gun registry a key point of contention was whether failure to register would be treated as a serious criminal offence or closer to a motor-vehicle registration violation; Allan Rock had earlier hinted at the possibility of a compromise, and after the CMA expressed to the Commons justice committee its new doubts on the gun registry, Rock suggested to the committee adding a category of lighter criminal penalties – outside of the Criminal Code – for some situations, and the committee quickly endorsed it. 245

In early June prior to the final Commons vote after which the gun-control bill would be sent to the Senate if passed, the Liberals were bolstered by announcement of voting for the bill from 3 Reform MPs, Ted White, Ian McClelland and Jim Silye, who made their decisions based on polling their constituents; Jim Silye’s position was especially significant because he was the Reform party whip in charge of enforcing party line on MP votes, but the Reform party allowed its MPs to vote their constituents’ wishes and though Silye was opposed to the bill his constituents at the riding of Calgary Centre favoured it. 246

On the other hand Stephen Harper, MP for Calgary West who had been the lone Reformer voting for it in the first vote based on a poll of 64% constituent support, now would vote no because a second polling of his constituents showed that although most still supported the gun registry, 60% of them did not like a potential 10-year jail penalty still in there for failure to register. 247

On June 13, the gun-control bill easily passed the Commons, with support from Bloc Quebecois; two day after, the hate-crime legislation also passed, with Bloc Quebecois support, ensuring tougher criminal penalties for crimes “motivated by hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability”. 248

The yes votes on gun-control from Jim Silye and the other two Reformers had been expected to compensate for the loss of votes from the 3 rural Liberal MPs who had voted no the first time, but the number of Liberal MPs casting final no vote increased to 9, and 4 other Liberal MPs voted no on the hate-crime bill; several days earlier there was also a lone Liberal no vote on the government’s budget-implementation bill, from justice committee chair Warren Allmand protesting budget cuts that reminded him of the Mulroney Tories’ cuts on spending for social programs; that came to a total of 14 Liberal MPs who openly dissented on important votes – in fact 15 had MP Rex Crawford not suffered a heart attack and missed the final gun-control vote – and a record high of vote dissent since the Chretien government began in November 1993. 249

After the budget vote in early June, Chretien had immediately moved to take Warren Allmand off his chair position at the justice committee, but unexpectedly Reform party whip Jim Silye refused to give his signature to expedite the removal, and also went public accusing the Chretien government of doing no better than the Mulroney government when it came to quashing internal dissent or rewarding friends with patronage. 250

Chretien was unfazed by the setback in demoting Warren Allmand, and unbending in demanding party loyalty. He praised the Liberal MPs who voted for the gun-control bill “against the very strong wishes of constituents who fiercely opposed the firearms law”, he declared that a vote against the government was a vote against him personally, and he told his MPs that if they did not follow the party line he might refuse to sign their nomination papers for the next election. 251

Warren Allmand countered that back in April 1988 when 22 Liberal MPs signed a letter asking then party leader (and Chretien’s rival) John Turner to resign, they did not receive any punishment, and many of the Liberal MPs who had opposed Turner were now in Chretien’s cabinet; Allmand said Chretien was going too far in demanding loyalty. 252

So, on openly taking a position against the party leader at least Liberal MP and justice committee chair Warren Allmand faired as well in June 1995 – due to help from the opposition Reform party whip Jim Silye – as B.C. Tory MP Stan Wilbee had faired in November 1992 for reasons unpublicized (as noted previously).

A public-relations problem for prime minister Chretien in his hard-line stand on loyalty within the party caucus was that it had been his election promise in 1993 as party leader – written in the Liberals’ election Red Book – to allow more free votes by Liberal MPs following their constituents’ wishes, but that afterwards no free vote was allowed on government legislations; there were many other unfulfilled Red Book promises such as, according to Warren Allmand, protecting spending that helped disadvantaged Canadians. 253

The 13 Liberal MPs dissenting on the gun-control or hate-crime legislation had won the 1993 election in their ridings with promises of parliamentary voting to reflect the constituents’ wishes, and had been hailed as heroes at the time; it had been a Liberal Red-Book promise but now in 1995 they were condemned as “trained seals” by the party. 254

At this point of record-high Chretien Liberal internal dissent, John English, historian and Liberal MP for Kitchener, believed party discipline to be important to national unity for a country as diverse as Canada, but Newfoundland Liberal MP George Baker suggested that the British model should be adopted in which government MPs, like opposition MPs, were allowed to question the government during the Question Period in the Commons; in contrast, the rightwing Reform party MPs, including leader Preston Manning, were during this time practicing free votes or at least freely discussing their opinions on the issue. 255

Some political commentators, e.g., William Thorsell, noted that the Canadian parliamentary system vested too much power in the prime minister of a majority government, more than any other industrialized democracy did in the government leader, and that in most Canadian political party constitutions the party leader’s authority could not be easily challenged unless a full party convention was held; they also noted that democratic rights and freedoms as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (crowning achievement of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in the 1982 Canadian Constitution) as the only reduction of the political power of the government – and “the single most “Americanizing” event in Canadian history” according to some – merely put the power in the hands of court justices appointed by the prime minister. 256

In hindsight, knowing Chretien’s personal focus on bettering Mulroney in consecutive majority election wins and in the length of governing – first achieved in August 2002 before announcing retirement and then capped with a 10-year celebration in October 2003 at the Sikh Golden Temple before stepping down (as discussed previously) – one can see that it was personally important for Chretien in 1995 to quash Liberal dissent that he viewed as posing a risk to his governing and to his future election chances, that Chretien was thinking beyond a few legislations – albeit major ones – and setting his sight on making historical milestones in Canadian politics for which his MPs simply should not compare him to his Liberal leadership predecessor, former prime minister John Turner, who had never won an election.

John Turner in fact shared some of the other Liberals’ misgivings about Chretien’s intolerance of democratic debate or dissent, and he later would also start to speak about it, in October 2000 less than 3 weeks after the death of Pierre Trudeau whom both Turner and Chretien had wanted to succeed and Turner did in 1984; Turner even praised the opposition Canadian Alliance – the Reform party with a new name in 2000 – for being more democratic: 257

““The Alliance is debating the issues,” Mr. Turner said.

“Whether or not you agree with the result of the debate or even the scope of the debate or even the subject of the debate, they are debating the issues.

“They’re opening up the system. And I believe the system needs opening up – beginning with the democratization of Parliament.””

In October 2000 when Turner heaped the above praise on the Reform party as a subtle criticism of Chretien, Chretien had wasted no time – after the mourning was over for Pierre Trudeau who had passed away of prostate cancer – to announce that he would call an election in which his campaign would emphasize Trudeau’s legacy; although election speculations had been around before Trudeau’s death, some cynics opined that Chretien must have known for a while Trudeau had been gravely ill, and was so eager to make electoral history as to take the opportunity of Canadians’ sympathy over Trudeau’s death to get his third majority term – without other urgent issues calling a new election sooner than any majority leader in history but former Liberal prime minister Wilfred Laurier in 1911 – over the relative inexperience of the new Alliance leader Stockwell Day and the split of conservative votes between the Alliance and the Tories – the latter again led by Joe Clark. 258

Chretien would win his third majority handily on November 27, 2000, garnering 41% of the popular vote – highest of his 3 times. 259

Back in 1995 in absolute-control mode over his Liberal MPs, Chretien wasted no time when the parliament reopened on September 18 for its fall session, at which time committee memberships were assigned anew: Warren Allmand was stripped of his justice committee chair on a day that happened to be one day before his 63th birthday, a move seen as signalling the start of a lonely end for a veteran Liberal who had once been Chretien’s cabinet colleague under Pierre Trudeau – as the solicitor general who ended capital punishment – and who had just shepherded gun control through the justice committee but voted against the budget; Dan McTeague, an ambitious young Liberal MP who had voted against the hate-crime law, was transferred from the heritage committee to the obscure Library of Parliament committee; and rural Liberal caucus chair Bob Speller who had advised the dissident rural Liberal MPs to skip the first vote on gun control, and warned they might vote no in the end, was stripped of his agriculture committee chair. 260

The gun-control bill was now in the Senate for the parliamentary session of fall 1995. Canadian senators were not elected but appointed, and the Senate at this point was controlled by a slim majority of Tories appointed by Brian Mulroney years ago; it was predicted that it could be 1996 before the Senate would begin to consider the bill, or as Calgary Senator Ron Ghitter, the Tories’ designated person on the gun-control bill in the Senate, had put it while the bill was still in the Commons: 261

“It’s not like this is an issue of national urgency; that crime is going to stop the moment we have registration. Homicides aren’t increasing. The statistics do not show this registration is going to solve any crime problems”.

Opponents of the gun-control bill, noticing a gradual decline in the poll numbers for it even though a majority of Canadians still supported gun control, began to mount vigorous lobbying campaigns to have the Senate force the Liberal government to withdraw part of the bill or accept substantial changes to water it down; in addition to the gun-owner groups, the opponents included the powerful provincial governments of Ontario and the Prairies, i.e., Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and the governments of the Northern Territories, where there were large rural populations; they also included critics such as columnist David Frum who blasted the legislation for allowing justice minister’s discretion to exempt native people from gun-control requirements, and curiously the Assembly of First Nations representing the native people, who complained that mandatory gun registration would intrude on their traditional lifestyle of hunting protected by their constitutional and treaty rights, and that a ”back-door” exemption was not good enough for them. 262

But despite the sabre-rattling of the opponents who aimed to scuttle national gun registration in the Senate, few observers believed the demise of stricter gun control. One reason is that, being unelected – and labelled a “mixed blessing” on such issues by Reform party leader Preston Manning – the Senate usually did not dig in its heels to block legislations passed by the Commons, and with the Tories nearly wiped out in the Commons the Tory-controlled Senate did so only twice after the Chretien government took power: on a bill cancelling the Mulroney government’s privatization of Toronto Pearson Airport, which prevented the developers from going to court to sue for punitive damages, and on an election-boundaries bill which was viewed as thinly disguised gerrymandering in favor of the Liberals. 263

Moreover, Tory leader Jean Charest (who had lost to Kim Campbell in the 1993 leadership contest and then taken over after Campbell’s electoral defeat) was rather conciliatory on gun control: he was absent during the final Commons vote, and also stated that the Tory-controlled Senate would only propose changes to the bill to send it back to the Commons, and that if the Commons then rejected the changes the Senate would not block it further. 264

Still, the complexity of parliamentary maneuvers meant that the Senate could hold long public hearings on the matters, that any changes approved by the Senate would require re-examination and vote by the Commons where politics involving the rural MPs was always volatile, and that if the legislation could not be approved by both chambers during this fall session it might have to be reintroduced in a new session in 1996. 265

Several days after punishing some of the key Liberal MPs for straying from the party line, Chretien moved on Friday, September 22 to appoint 4 new Liberal senators – including 3 women for a record-high 23 women in the upper chamber – to fill the Senate to its full size of 104 and bring the total number of Liberals to 50 versus the Tories’ 51, with 3 independent senators leaning toward the Liberals. 266

Chretien’s appointment of new senators would eventually lead to passage of the gun-control legislation but not after several more months of bickering and maneuvering, including amid a heightened public atmosphere due to revelation of an RCMP Airbus Affair probe in which the Canadian government informed Swiss authorities former (Tory) prime minister Mulroney was being investigated for criminal activity.

In September 1995 Prime Minister Chretien did not think unelected senators should thwart the will of the elected government, but in recent history it had been the Liberals, under John Turner in 1988 and Chretien in 1990, who used the Senate controlled by Trudeau appointees to ferociously block the 1988 U.S.-Canada free trade pact and the 1990 Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill that would replace the old manufacturers’ tax with a national sales tax. 267

When Chretien was contesting the Liberal leadership in early 1990 he was noncommittal on the GST, believing that some sort of national consumption tax would not be bad; but later in the year when the prospect presented to him that the tax was unpopular and he might be able to use the Senate to block it to force prime minister Mulroney to call an election, something Turner had done in 1988 with the free-trade bill, Chretien led his Senators down that path – with Mulroney the one railing against “the undemocratic practice of appointed senators thwarting the will of the elected government” but his popularity low after recent failure of the Meech Lake constitutional accord. 268

With only two years into his second majority term and low poll numbers, Mulroney did not want an election; instead, he abandoned the prudence of leaving vacant Senate seats untouched while pursuing Senate reform – the Meech Lake accord would have required Senate appointments be made from lists of candidates submitted by the provincial governments although the candidates need not be elected – and over several weeks added 15 new senators to fill the Senate to its full size of 104. 269

At that point in late September 1990 it was still a Liberal-controlled Senate, so Mulroney invoked a never used section of the Constitution to ‘overload’ the Senate, namely getting approval from the Constitutional Monarch to add 8 more senators for a majority in an oversized Senate, in order to break the logjam between the elected Commons and the unelected Senate; the PM’s wish was readily granted by Queen Elizabeth II via Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn, even though the last time when prime minister Alexander MacKenzie requested in 1874 it was denied by Queen Victoria. 270

And so 5 years later when Chretien needed to fill the Senate full with 4 Liberal appointments in order to pass the gun-control bill, he was in a sense coping with the consequences of provoking Mulroney 5 years ago only to see Mulroney overload the Senate with a Tory majority lasting to the later time.

In September 1990 some believed Chretien’s hard line and escalating “constitutional crisis” talk could lead to more serious Senate reform. 271 But although it was true that Mulroney’s Senate overloading ignited debates among legal experts and historians, including discussion on history of the British “House of Lords”, 272 Mulroney’s constitutional reforms – the already failed Meech Lake accord and later the Charlottetown accord – were never fruitful, and unrestricted appointments of senators simply returned as the norm: for instance, from February 1993 when he announced retirement to June when he left, Mulroney appointed another 15 senators 273 – the same number as for the GST fight in 1990 prior to overloading.

In November 1992 after the Charlottetown accord failed, Liberal Senate leader Royce Frith demanded that Mulroney hold special elections for Senate seats in order to demonstrate his commitment to Senate reform; but after the Liberals came to power the Chretien government took the failure of the accord as the end of Senate reform and made unilateral Senate appointments at a faster rate; only in July 2003 when he was close to departure did Chretien start to consider, but not put into practice, appointing senators from lists provided by provincial governments – in order to leave a Senate reform “legacy” 274 – an issue Mulroney had treaded carefully on during the Meech Lake accord era prior to the 1990 GST confrontation.

Likewise, before the height of the 1990 Senate GST crisis columnist Hyman Solomon of Financial Post, whose professional opinions would earn him a hospital-bedside visit from prime minister Mulroney before he died of cancer at 57 in early 1991, had guessed that Chretien had no real intent to kill the GST bill, or cancel the tax if and when he became prime minister, but to make the unpopular GST a political liability for the Tories long enough for the next election, which was at least a year or two away despite Chretien’s talk of forcing one over the GST: 275

“A year’s delay in passage would ensure the tax becomes a damaging election issue for the Tories, and a bonus for Chretien. If the Liberals won power, the “Tory” GST would be in place, and Chretien would find a convenient reason to keep it.”

Indeed, after the Senate fight the Liberals never put forth a plan to deal with the GST, until January 28, 1993 when Chretien said Canadians had to wait till after he won power to find out how he would replace it; subsequently during that election year Chretien or someone under him would float an idea or two from time to time as if a real change might be in the works. 276

After the 1993 election Chretien talked about replacing the GST for several years, and then told others he liked the tax. 277

In 1996 deputy prime minister Sheila Copps, the Liberal MP who in 1990 had put the most pressure on Chretien to fight the GST, resigned and ran for her MP seat one more time in a by-election to make up for her brash 1993 promise to abolish the GST or quit. 278

Thus suspicion often arise – and not just with the RCMP Airbus Affair criminal investigation on Mulroney – that the Chretien government could talk up but not fully pursue a matter, as with Allan Rock’s talk of a handgun ban, or Chretien’s promise of replacing the GST.

(Continuing to Part 7, next blog post)

Notes:

222. Adrian Humphreys, “Abortion foe arrested in fatal sniper attack: Manhunt ends in France, hunt begins for accomplices”, March 30, 2001, National Post; “Kopp must also be tried for shooting Ancaster MD”, March 19, 2003, The Spectator; Jon Wells, “A Shadow Looms; Sniper the True Story of James Kopp; Chapter 40”, June 3, 2004, The Spectator; Katie Rook, “Abortion doctor’s killer jailed for life; U.S. SLAYING; Also a suspect in shootings of three Canadian doctors”, June 20, 2007, National Post; and, Dale Anne Freed, “Abortion foe avoids Ancaster charges; Convicted U.S. killer suspect after local MD shot by sniper”, May 27, 2009, Toronto Star

223. “Plea deal rejected for pair accused of aiding Kopp”, August 22, 2002, The Spectator; “Activists guilty of harbouring killer”, April 16, 2003, Calgary Herald; and, “Couple who aided anti-abortion activist freed”, August 22, 2003, The Record

224. Jon Wells, “A Shadow Looms; Sniper the True Story of James Kopp; Chapter 40”, June 3, 2004, The Spectator; “Abortion-rights defender shot dead in church”, June 1, 2009, The Spectator; Antonia Zerbisias, “Doctor’s killing is domestic terrorism”, June 2, 2009, Toronto Star; and, Alex Spillius and Tom Leonard, “Militia man suspected in abortion doctor killing”, June 2, 2009, Calgary Herald

225. Murray Campbell, “Justice Minister sticks to his guns on registration Legislation faces tough road as Rock makes just one concession”, February 15, 1995, The Globe and Mail; and, William Johnson, “Gun controls on target; Justice Minister Rock has right, reason and the people on his side”, February 17, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen

226. The St. Valentine’s Day massacre in which gangsters believed to be from Al Capone’s organization dressed as policemen, lined up 7 members of a rival bootlegging gang at a Clark Street garage in Chicago and machine-gunned them to death, was never solved although Capone’s bodyguard and successor Anthony J. Accardo was thought to be responsible; “Tony” Accardo who lived to late May 1992 to the age of 86, boasted for not having to spend one night in jail in his entire mafia life despite more than 30 arrests for murder, kidnapping, extortion, gambling and union racketeering; see: Edward Walsh and Martin Short, “Last ride for Chicago’s ‘Big Tuna’; The death of a crime boss once believed to be a gunman in Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre severs the last living link with the gangster era of Al Capone”, June 7, 1992, Edmonton Journal

227. After 13 female engineering students and one female employee were gunned down at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, the media noted that it was twice as bad as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre; later the school’s student association president Alain Perrault chose the day before St. Valentine’s Day 1990 to unveil a gun-control petition signed by over 200,000 people, starting a campaign pushing Mulroney government’s justice minister Kim Campbell toward gun-control efforts; the St. Valentine’s Day massacre was also a story referred to in gun-control efforts in the U.S., e.g., by New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly; see: “The message of a massacre”, December 8, 1989, Editorial, The Vancouver Sun; Catherine Dunphy, “Aftermath of the massacre Coming through the horror Three months after the Montreal school slaying, students cope in different ways”, March 3, 1990, Toronto Star; “New gun law is due soon – Campbell”, March 17, 1990, The Gazette; and, George F. Will, “Gun owners number 200 million – with a bullet”, July 22, 1993, The Vancouver Sun

228. “$30b U.S. crime bill passes final hurdle in Senate Every neighborhood in America will be much safer, Clinton says”, August 26, 1994, The Spectator; Stuart Hunter, “Shooting triggers call to outlaw all assault weapons: ‘They serve no useful purpose … They are designed to kill humans’”, November 13, 1994, The Province; and, Joan Bryden, “Clinton urges Canadian unity: U.S. leader also praises crackdown on firearms”, February 24, 1995, The Vancouver Sun

229. Carol Goar, “Tory era comes to a brutal end”, October 26, 1993, Toronto Star; and, “Referendum superstars draw Commons limelight – Bouchard and Parizeau”, February 23, 1995, Times-Colonist

230. David J. Bercuson, “QUEBEC’S MYTH: Masterpiece explores the roots of disorder”, October 22, 1994, Calgary Herald; Linda Drouin, “Independence or bust, Bouchard tells faithful It’s do or die in ‘95 referendum, Bloc leader insists”, November 27, 1994, The Ottawa Citizen; Linda Drouin, “Referendum battle has begun, Bloc leader says”, November 28, 1994, The Vancouver Sun; “Lucien Bouchard, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, is in hospital in a life or death struggle”, December 1, 1994, CTV National News, CTV Television; Anne McIlroy, “Bouchard improving; Could be back at work in 3 months, barring complications”, December 3, 1994, The Ottawa Citizen; William Johnson, “A history of hypocrisy France’s repeated encouragement of Quebec separatism could well backfire”, February 2, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen; Chantal Hebert, “Chretien erred in bid to block Bouchard’s meeting with Clinton”, February 7, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen; Edison Stewart, “Recognize Quebec if it goes, Bouchard urges U.S. leader Bloc Quebecois chief pitches independence”, February 24, 1995, Toronto Star; and, Jeff Sallot and Edward Greenspon, “’Vive le Canada,’ Clinton says President knew remark echoed de Gaulle, aide acknowledges”, February 24, 1995, The Globe and Mail

231. Lon Wood, “LON WOOD – History’s human face seen in own back yards”, January 20, 1995, Times-Colonist

232. Allan Fotheringham, “Newman’s new book will be frank on the Mulroney years”, January 14, 1995, Financial Post

233. Kimberley Noble, “Stevie Cameron and the Mounties, 1994-2004”, website of author Stevie Cameron

234. Kimberley Noble, ibidem; and, “CBC hints politicians may have benefited from Airbus deal”, March 29, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen

235. Paul Palango, “Canada ignores a scandal; $40 million in Airbus kickbacks gets a yawn instead of an inquiry”, June 1, 1995, The Gazette

236. Murray Campbell, “Gun debate to heat up as Rock tables bill Justice Minister may make minor concessions, but he is unlikely to back down from original proposals”, February 14, 1995, The Globe and Mail

237. Tim Harper, “3 MPs pay price for gun bill revolt Liberals stripped of their seats on committees”, April 7, 1995, Toronto Star

238. Tim Harper, ibidem

239. “Liberal backbenchers break ranks on gun-control bill”, April 5, 1995, Canadian Press NewsWire; and, David Vienneau, “Rural Liberals uneasy on gun controls Caucus revolt possible if bill not softened”, April 24, 1995, Toronto Star

240. Doug Fischer, “Rock’s gun-control bill approved in principle; But 3 Liberals vote No and others stay away”, April 6, 1995, The Gazette

241. Brian Laghi, “Manning rides tall in the saddle; Leads stampede from the West; Reform; Election 1993”, October 26, 1993, Edmonton Journal

242. Anthony Johnson, “Most Albertans support gun control”, January 31, 1995, Calgary Herald; Judith Wyatt, “Show support for gun control bill”, April 24, 1995, Kingston Whig-Standard; and, Tu Thanh Ha, “Gun control support slipping in West Bill still backed by majority of public”, June 3, 1995, The Globe and Mail

243. Justice Jean-Claude Angers’s outspokenness was also compared to that of Quebec youth court judge Andree Ruffo who went to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge what she felt were restrictions to her freedom of speech championing children’s rights; see: “Judicious talk: Judges who speak out publicly on social issues should perhaps consider another profession”, March 27, 1995, Calgary Herald; Stephen Bindman, “Judge censured for gun-law letter; Judicial Council won’t fire jurist for critical views”, April 13, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen; and, Stephen Bindman, “Judge defends opposition to gun control despite loud public reprimand”, April 21, 1995, The Vancouver Sun

244. David Vienneau, “MDs reject registration in gun bill”, May 12, 1995, Toronto Star; and, Jim Bronskill, “Doctors’ group not convinced gun registry would reduce murder, suicide”, May 12, 1995, The Vancouver Sun

245. “Rock considers weaker gun bill Change would ease criminal penalties”, February 4, 1995, The Globe and Mail; Norm Ovenden, “Rock considers lifting jail threat to pass gun-control law”, April 1, 1995, Edmonton Journal; “Gun control Staying the course”, May 20, 1995, The Windsor Star; and, “MPs soften penalties in gun registry legislation”, June 6, 1995, The Record

246. “Three Reformers will vote for gun-control legislation”, June 13, 1995, The Record

247. Kim Lunman, “Silye voting for gun controls”, June 13, 1995, Calgary Herald

248. David Vienneau, “Gun law shoots through”, June 14, 1995, Toronto Star; and, Tim Harper, “House approves tougher hate law Section of bill prompted debate over gay rights”, June 16, 1995, Toronto Star

249. Terrance Wills, “Parliament is flying with one wing; Allmand’s lonely stand on budget highlights void on left”, June 8, 1995, The Gazette; Doug Fischer, “Gun-control fight goes to Senate Nine Liberal MPs break party ranks to vote against law”, June 14, 1995, The Gazette; David Vienneau and Tim Harper, “Fall in line – or else PM warns rebel MPs You can’t run without my okay he tells 9 who defied gun bill”, June 15, 1995, Toronto Star; Tim Harper, ibidem; and, Peter Salmon, “Dissent at record high in Liberal caucus – Party discipline is crucial”, June 21, 1995, Times-Colonist

250. Tu Thanh Ha, “Reform foils move against Allmand Liberals accused of acting like Tory predecessors in move to push veteran MP off justice committee”, June 8, 1995, The Globe and Mail

251. David Vienneau and Tim Harper, “Fall in line – or else PM warns rebel MPs You can’t run without my okay he tells 9 who defied gun bill”, June 15, 1995, Toronto Star; and, Claire Hoy, “Chretien shows contempt for principled MPs”, June 20, 1995, The Province

252. Tu Thanh Ha and Susan Delacourt, “PM threatens to block rebels’ candidacy May refuse to OK nominations, Grit MPs told on eve of hate-crimes vote”, June 15, 1995, The Globe and Mail

253. Peter Salmon, “Dissent at record high in Liberal caucus – Party discipline is crucial”, June 21, 1995, Times-Colonist; and, Peter O’Neil, “Liberal Red Book leaves too many pages unturned, say critics”, June 30, 1995, The Ottawa Citizen

254. Joan Bryden, “MPs walk a tightrope: MPs are increasingly pulled three ways. Voters demand MPs reflect their ridings, but they also want MPs with the courage of their convictions and political parties that stand for something and keep their promises”, June 24, 1995, The Spectator

255. Joan Bryden, ibidem

256. William Thorsell, “Freedom of expression gets short shrift in Canada’s parliamentary caucuses”, June 17, 1995, The Globe and Mail; and, Stephen Schecter, “Singularly peevish view of Canada; Pearsonian Liberalism blamed for all our country’s troubles”, July 22, 1995, The Gazette

257. Lawrence Martin, “Chretien will find life different without Trudeau”, September 30, 2000, Sudbury Star; and, Susan Delacourt, “A deep, dissident voice: Former prime minister John Turner came to Ottawa to lament the passing of a more respectable era in politics. But the subtext of his speech told a deeper story that doesn’t flatter Jean Chretien”, October 15, 2000, The Ottawa Citizen

258. Robert Fife, “Fall vote? Boudria says unlikely, PM says ‘we’ll see’: New health deal makes adjournment of House nearly impossible: Minister”, September 15, 2000, National Post; “Cancer claims brash former PM Trudeau”, September 29, 2000, Daily Mercury; Robert Fife, “PM aims to capitalize on Trudeau: Renames highest peak in honour of former leader: Liberals gear up for expected Nov. 27 vote; Chretien says he will cite late PM’s ‘values’”, October 5, 2000, National Post; Andrew Coyne, “Election call not about democracy, just political opportunism”, October 7, 2000, Kingston Whig-Standard; Lawrence Martin, “Ambition may cost Chretien legacy”, October 17, 2000, The Ottawa Citizen; Joan Bryden, “Early vote call seen as gamble; Many label Chretien ‘an opportunist’”, October 18, 2000, The Windsor Star; and, Juliet O’Neill, “’Taint of scandal’ follows Chretien: Clark: Canadians can trust Tories, former PM pledges”, October 24, 2000, The Ottawa Citizen

259. Jack Aubry and Mike Trickey, “Liberals boost majority; CA grows; Clark survives: Canada remains divided along regional lines as Liberals gain in Atlantic, Quebec”, November 28, 2000, Calgary Herald

260. Peggy Curran, “Feisty old-timer; Veteran MP Allmand votes with his conscience”, June 10, 1995, The Gazette; Joan Bryden, “Liberal mavericks await punishment: 14 MPs who voted against government last spring don’t expect prime minister to forgive and forget”, September 12, 1995, The Vancouver Sun; Tim Harper, “Maverick MP Allmand finally uses up his 9 lives Justice committee chair is dumped from post”, September 19, 1995, Toronto Star; Susan Delacourt, “Liberals’ moves dent team spirit Punishment of dissident government MPs fosters talk of breakaway factions in caucus”, September 19, 1995, The Globe and Mail; and, Ken MacQueen, “Liberal left-winger fights to survive in illiberal world”, September 26, 1995, Kingston Whig-Standard

261. Norm Ovenden, “The coming gun battle in the Senate; Tory senators may take a long, slow look at gun control legislation”, May 27, 1995, Edmonton Journal

262. David Frum, “Conservative Senators Must Ensure Equality Before The Law: Bill C-68 empowers the justice minister to exempt natives from gun controls”, July 1, 1995, Financial Post; “Slow Trans-Canada traffic as gun protest, natives told – Canadian Press”, July 21, 1995, Times-Colonist; Scott Feschuk, “Prairie premiers seeking ways to change gun-control bill Ontario sits in as West readies for battle in Senate”, July 27, 1995, The Globe and Mail; Paul McKeague, “Ontario threatens court battle over gun bill: Smuggling, not gun registration, is what Ottawa should be focusing on, says Ontario’s solicitor general”, September 22, 1995, The Windsor Star; and, “ Gun exemptions for Indian hunters not enough: chiefs”, September 26, 1995, The Gazette

263. Norm Ovenden, “Gun owners target Senate support; Appeals to block gun control law push Senate’s role back into the spotlight”, July 1, 1995, Edmonton Journal. The Pearson international airport privatization deal, finalized during the last days of the Kim Campbell government, and its aftermath were considered so scandalous by author Stevie Cameron that Cameron put the topic and that of the Airbus issue together in a section in her 1994 book, On the take: crime, corruption and greed in the Mulroney years

264. “Tories play games on gun control bill”, June 15, 1995, and, David Vienneau, “Senate won’t kill gun bill, Charest says”, September 14, 1995, Toronto Star

265. “Senate stalls gun control”, August 5, 1995, Toronto Star; and, Doug Fischer, “Senate strategy may yet scuttle gun bill: Advocates of stricter gun laws worry that the bill passed by the Commons may not be a Grit political priority”, September 13, 1995, The Windsor Star

266. “Appointments give Grits control of Senate”, September 23, 1995, Edmonton Journal

267. Norm Ovenden, “The coming gun battle in the Senate; Tory senators may take a long, slow look at gun control legislation”, May 27, 1995, and, “Gun owners target Senate support; Appeals to block gun control law push Senate’s role back into the spotlight”, July 1, 1995, Edmonton Journal

268. Vicki Barnett, “Chretien leans to GST”, March 5, 1990, Calgary Herald; Rosemary Speirs, “Liberal plotters may gamble on GST”, May 14, 1990, Toronto Star; William Thorsell, “Strange scenarios: could the Senate give Chretien the keys to Sussex Drive?”, June 9, 1990, The Globe and Mail; Marjorie Nichols, “Tory government stalled by problem overload”, August 11, 1990, The Ottawa Citizen; Edison Stewart, “GST won’t pass Senate by Jan. 1, Chretien predicts”, September 13, 1990, Toronto Star; Joan Bryden, “Chretien vows to kill GST; Liberal chief hints at using Senate to force an election”, September 18, 1990, Edmonton Journal; and, Joan Bryden, “Chretien ‘using Senate’”, October 3, 1990, Calgary Herald

269. Prior to filling the Senate in spates for the GST bill, Mulroney had appointed Stanley Waters, a Reform party candidate from Alberta where Senate candidate election was being experimented, as the first elected senator in Canada, even though Mulroney had said he did not have to do so; see:  Robert Lee, “PM won’t heed vote for Senate; Alberta elects Reform party candidate”, October 17, 1989, The Ottawa Citizen; Miro Cernetig, “Alberta’s Waters named to Senate Move praised as sign of reform”, June 12, 1990, The Globe and Mail; “5 new senators help narrow Liberal lead in upper house”, August 31, 1990, The Windsor Star; Norm Ovenden, “Stacking the Senate stirs cynicism”, September 15, 1990, Edmonton Journal; and,Patrick Doyle, “Mulroney names 5 more Tories to fill Senate”, September 24, 1990, Toronto Star

270. Terrance Wills, “Mulroney names 8 extra senators; Liberals shut down upper house to delay vote on GST”, September 28, 1990, The Gazette

271. Joan Bryden, “FIGHTING THE TAX; Chretien warns of constitutional crisis over GST”, September 14, 1990, and, Marjorie Nichols, “Upper house deadlock may bring Senate refom”, September 18, 1990, The Ottawa Citizen; and, “Pulling senators from the constitutional hat”, September 25, 1990, The Globe and Mail

272. Jim Poling, “Legal experts divided over PM’s right to add 8 Tories” September 27, 1990, Edmonton Journal; and, Vaughn Palmer, “Senate battle resembles 1907 U.K. crisis”, September 27, 1990, The Vancouver Sun

273. “Mulroney makes last round of patronage appointments”, June 25, 1993, The Gazette

274. Wade Hemsworth, “Pressure remains for Senate reform: PM urged to relinquish unilateral appointments”, November 13, 1992, The Windsor Star; Norm Ovenden and Larry Johnsrude, “Reform blocking Senate overhaul, charges Chretien”, October 21, 1998, and, Anne Dawson, with files from Graham Thomson and Andrea Janus, “PM accepts Klein’s modest Senate reform”, July 10, 2003, Edmonton Journal; Anne Dawson and Robert Fife, “Martin warms to Senate reform”, July 16, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen; and, John Ibbitson, “Abolish, rebalance or ignore the Red Chamber?”, December 22, 2003, The Globe and Mail

275. Hyman Solomon, “Tory plans hamstrung by Senate delays”, July 30, 1990, Financial Post; and, Madelaine Drohan, “OBITUARY”Hyman Solomon Journalist’s column had avid readers”, January 30, 1991, The Globe and Mail

276. Joan Bryden, “Chretien vows to scrap GST, fight Quebec independence”, October 29, 1990, The Vancouver Sun; “Plans for replacing GST to await budget, leader says”, January 29, 1993, “Simpler tax said Chretien favorite to replace GST”, February 2, 1993, and, Peter O’Neil, “Chretien says he would hand GST to provinces”, August 18, 1993, The Vancouver Sun

277. Neville Nankivell, “Canadians Becoming Accustomed To GST: Modify and simplify consumption tax”, December 22, 1994, and, Samuel Slutsky, “Chretien fails on GST promise for third year in a row”, December 19, 1995, Financial Post; and, “Reform slams Chretien for boasting about GST”, October 25, 1997, Star-Phoenix

278. Vicki Barnett, “Chretien leans to GST”, March 5, 1990, and, Roman Cooney and Sheldon Alberts, “Copps challenges ‘peek-a-boo’ leader”, May 2, 1990, Calgary Herald; and, Joan Bryden, “Copps given a second chance: She wins by-election after quitting over GST”, June 18, 1996, The Gazette

One response to “The myth of political vendetta in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Airbus Affair investigation, the politics of Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, and some social undercurrents in Canada (Part 6)

  1. The killing of abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009 led to closing of all the abortion clinics in Wichita, Kansas. But now Dr. Mila Means, who a decade ago taught abstinence classes to Christian youths and even interviewed to work at a local pregnancy crisis center counselling women not to have abortions, decides to take up the slack. She has bought Dr. Tiller’s old equipment and trained for the procedure in Kansas city, and is looking for an office space where her medical clinic can also perform abortion: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/us/10abortion.html?pagewanted=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

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