Sunday, November 11, 2007

Harper Distances From Mulroney and Starts a Review Process Based on Schreiber Affidavit.

On November 2nd in this blog I called on Mr. Harper to call in inquiry into the Mulroney/Schreiber affair. I have not kept current on developments on this front as I have recently been out of town at a fascinating conference on blogging and new media…more on that at later date.

I am pleased to support the steps announced by Mr. Harper and reported in the Globe and Mail last Friday that there will be an independent third party review of the Mulroney/Schreiber affair. In my earlier post I said this incident was a character test for Mr. Harper. I believe this situation should be used as “a measure of the man” and citizens can thereby pass judgment on Harper’s personal capacity to govern as a wise statesman and not merely as a clever political tactician.

I am a serious critic of Mr. Mulroney and while it is rare, I have applauded him in the past a number of significant occasions, like the decision on income trusts. Today I am pleased to applaud Mr. Harper again on this decision to call for an independent third party review and to advise the Prime Minister.

Given the complexity of the fact situation, the history of the past Airbus fiasco where former Prime Minister Chr├ętien inappropriately politicized and personalized the matter that resulted in hindering the RCMP investigtion and causing Canadian taxpayers to pay a libel suit settlement to former Prime Minister Mulroney and the RCMP not being able to get to the bottom of the matter as a result. Add in the dubious reliability of Mr. Schreiber’s credibility who is currently in custody and facing extradition to Germany for fraud and other charges.

This is serious stuff and weighs heavily on the player, not the least of who are the current Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former Prime Ministers Mulroney and Chr├ętien. Because of the allegations in a sworn affidavit of Mr. Schreiber, it is now also about the integrity, honour and respect of the highest political office in the land, the Prime Minister’s Office.

Perhaps a judicial inquiry is justified but I think Mr. Harper is correct to initially have an independent third party to conduct a review of the facts and circumstances. This will effectively amount to a de facto preliminary inquiry used in criminal proceedings to see if there is enough evidence of sufficient reliability to proceed further.

Stephane Dion and the NDP are calling for a judicial inquiry now. That may be warranted but today, given the history and the circumstances surrounding the allegations and the source of the allegations that may be premature. Let’s get a truly independent third party with experience, wisdom as well as judgment to review the file and advise the PMO.

The test of character issue for Mr. Harper is still extant and we will judge him on who he selects to do the review, terms of reference he gives and the openness he allows and the resources he makes available for the review. Any shortcomings in any of these matters will be viewed as a whitewash.

Mr. Harper is doing the right thing…now he must do it the right way.