The more I think about it, the more concerned I am that in opting for a full-blown judicial inquiry into the Schreiber-Mulroney affair, Prime Minister Harper has made a monumental error.
Just consider. Such an inquiry will last at least a year, it will cost upwards of $50 million dollars, it will make a lot of lawyers rich, it will unjustly tarnish a lot of reputations and there is no guarantee that it will unearth the real culprits, let alone put them behind bars.
Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says he wants a big inquiry to clear his name. Fair enough. But does the Canadian taxpayer have a paramount interest in helping him do so?
And now it looks as though one of the key witnesses in the inquiry is ready to clam up. Karlheinz Schreiber says if he is shipped back to Germany on December first he won’t testify at all. Just visualize the scene: squads of lawyers sitting at long tables, their money meters running, and the chief witness takes the fifth.
Earlier this week in Montreal former Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Harper should turn the whole mess over to the cops. Is it too late for that? It’s very hard to shove the toothpaste back into the tube. Harper would find it very hard to back down.
However, there is still a ray of hope. Dr. Johnson, the special consultant on this matter, could still recommend something less than a public inquiry – like calling in the cops. They can concentrate on the one central question: why did Schreiber pay his friend Mulroney $300,000, why did Mulroney delay paying taxes on this money and what did he do for this sum? (In fact Mulroney now says he committed “a colossal mistake” in accepting the money from Schreiber for vague consulting fees).
Do you think the Schreiber-Mulroney matter should be turned over to the police?
Or do you favour a full public inquiry?
In any event, shouldn’t the Harper government keep Schreiber in Canada until any investigation or inquiry is complete?