Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Justice Partisan Style

When it comes to reconstructing events that have taken place there are three significant versions; what can be proven in a court of law, public perception, the truth. All three of these versions play a significant role in the Schreiber/Mulroney scandal. The handling of this scandal is a time-bomb waiting to go off. The question is who is going to be on the receiving end of the public backlash.

Mulroney and Schreiber had previously been the centre of the Airbus scandal. It was alleged that Mulroney received kickbacks from Schreiber when the government purchased some airplanes. A lengthy RCMP investigation was unable to prove that anything illegal had taken place. The Chretien government agreed to paid $2.1 million to cover Mulroney's legal costs and offer an apology.

The current scandal involves the events surrounding $300,000 Schreiber gave to Mulroney in cash. The question boils down to did anything unethical or illegal take place with this transaction? Is it in violation of the settlement terms of $2.1 million that was paid out?

Schreiber is trying to avoid extradition to Germany. He will probably spend the rest of his life in a German jail cell. These allegations make him valuable to Canadian authorities and could keep him in Canada as long as he is needed for the hearings. If the government does not succumb to his stall tactics he will head back to Germany December 1st. Schreiber has promised to be uncooperative with any investigation if he is sent to Germany.

Harper has called for a full public inquiry with an inquiry currently underway to determine the parameters of the inquiry. Opposition parties are scrambling to have the public associate this with the sponsorship scandal. They are trying to stop extradition of Schreiber accusing the government of a cover up.

The Liberals are trying to have the Justice Minister step down from his post because Mulroney played a positive roll in is life. Mulroney's friendship with Harper is grounds for investigation of the PMO office. They had spent some vacation time together earlier this year where Schreiber claims he asked Mulroney to talk to Harper about the scandal. Harper denies that it was ever a topic of conversation. The Liberals also believe that the parameters are going to be limited to investigating the Schreiber/Mulroney business dealings. They have asked the the ethics commissioner to investigate the PMO role in the scandal.

The NDP are trying to make sure that the Liberals are not left out. They want all of Schreiber's business dealings to be investigated, including a donation to the Liberal party. Pat Martin does not want to wait for a public inquiry and has demanded the government begin recouping the $2.1 million immediately. Martin is trying to have Schreiber and Mulroney testify to the ethics committee before Schreiber has a chance to be deported.

The Conservatives have been put in a no win scenario. Keeping Schreiber in Canada is allowing him to abuse our judicial due process. Not allowing him to stay will be seen as an intentional miscarriage of justice. Such a label could destroy the Conservative brand the way sponsorship scandal continues to tarnish the Liberal party.

This scandal is not about money as any course of action is going to lead to cost millions of dollars. Linking this scandal to the current government is key. If Canadians see this investigation as a chapter in the long forgotten past, and a waste of public funds the opposition parties could be facing a major public backlash. It is also serving as a distraction to the issues they claim are important including environment, poverty and Afghanistan. If the public perception does associate this scandal with the current government (whether it is true or not) it could play a similar role as the sponsorship scandal helped topple the Liberals from power.

In the next 6 weeks more by elections are going to be called. It will be to the benefit of all Canadians if these election are fought over current policy decision instead of the actions of a Prime Minister who has been out of office for 14 years.

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