Monday, November 12, 2007

Was Prime Minister Harper Really Out-of-the-Loop on the Mulroney/Schreiber Affair?

Can you believe that Prime Minister Harper, the master of micro-managing-message-control, was out of the loop for seven months on a letter sent to him from Karlheinz Schreiber alleging serious wrong-doing by former PM (and current Harper mentor) Brian Mulroney?

Given that the letter was accusing former Prime Minister Mulroney of serious abuses of the highest political office in the country, can you believe the Privy Council Office’s characterization of the letter’s content? What were they thinking when, according to media reports, the CPO decided the Schreiber letter to Prime Minister Harper as merely dealing with a civil suit between two private citizens and therefore Harper need not even be advised of the letter's existence, never mind the content?

Mr. Harper’s recent threats in response to the opposition parties (and many Canadians) saying they want him to investigate this matter saying we had “better be careful what we ask for” in demanding a sitting PM investigate a former PM. This attitude was pure unvarnished and unscripted Stephen Harper at his most insinuating, intimidating and threatening best. He implies with such a request to investigate the Mulroney/Schreiber affair there could also be other investigations of other former PMs. Scary stuff.

If further investigation of other PMs is warranted Mr. Harper, then that sir, is exactly what I and other Canadians would expect you to undertake. Your insinuation that this may bear some “consequences” to other politicians and other political parties is damaging to your own reputation as PM and brings into question your own fitness for service the highest political office in the land.

The last time Harper launched such an investigation it was politically motivated and over certain communications, polling and advisory contracts with former Prime Minister Martin and a consulting firm. That firm was also heavily involved in Martin's bid for leadership of the LPC and in his last two election strategies. The investigation mandate Mr. Harper set then was to look for any wrong-doing and skullduggery by the contractors and Mr. Martin. That appointee was seen by most as more of a political provocateur than an indifferent and independent investigator. He was supposed to report back on his findings in 6 months and that time has long since past without any report being released by Mr. Harper. We don’t even know if Harper has actually received such a report as yet. Not an encouraging record Mr. Harper.

Mr. Harper indicates he will appoint an independent third party to investigate the issues and allegations around the Mulroney/Schreiber affair. He says that appointment announcement may come as early as this week. Mr. Harper needs to prove, through this action, that he has the character and capacity for service in the highest political office in the land. If he aspires to a majority government with virtually unfettered control that would bring to him, and as was enjoyed by Prime Ministers Mulroney and Chr├ętien, he can do much toward ensuring that outcome in the next election by the appointment of a truly independent person to do this review.

Be careful who you appoint this time Mr. Harper and be very open and transparent with the mandate and terms of reference and be generous with the resources you afford this investigation. We are talking about the integrity of the highest political office in the land and not some clever political out-of-season campaign ploy like your series of “who-is-not-a-leader” negative TV ads against Mr. Dion. Please do not politicize this situation Mr. Harper.

Our faith in our democracy demands that we look to you Mr. Harper as our Prime Minister and as the leader of our government to ensure the necessary accountability is extant in dealing with these difficult circumstances.

While you ponder the appointee and the nature of the assignment please put a stay on the extradition of Mr. Schreiber for a while too. We need him in Canada to be examined under oath surrounding the various allegations in his recent affidavit on this matter. The Germans can wait a bit longer to pursue their tax evasion and fraud charges against him. Right now Canadians need to know if he can prove his allegations or not.
I'm not taking bets on if Schreiber can prove his allegations or not. I am hoping, for the sake of the confidence of the country in our political institutions, that he can't. Time will tell.