Sunday, December 02, 2007

End of Term

Well, the end of the semester is in sight. Time really did fly. I met and got to know about 75 wonderful young people and some really great colleagues. Now it's time to mark papers and write.
But just as the Christmas season breaks the edge of my time horizon, along comes old KarlHeinz and the non-travelling House of Commons Ethics Committee roadshow. KHS was Act I, and Brian Mulroney is skedded to provide the conflict that will make this edgy comedy the hit of the season in Ottawa.
Here's a guy (Mulroney) who went into the autumn thinking his little place in history would be gloriously etched by his bulky autobiography, research-ghosted by my friend Art Milnes. Humping up to Westmount after a long day at the office, Mulroney may have cast the odd glance over his shoulder at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (which sits atop the Central Station, where I catch my train back to Ottawa) and wondered if the $100,000 he picked up from Schreiber was still safely tucked away in Barrick Gold stocks or wherever he put it.
KHS says Mulroney did nothing to earn the money, which conflicts sharply with the idea Mulroney got it as a bribe for services rendered in office. Eventually, he should stick to one story. And if Mulroney got it after he left office for lobbying services (not)rendered, then Mulroney's right, it's just a civil matter before the courts and, perhaps, the Barreau de Quebec.
But before I bought the idea the Mulroney simply fleeced Schreiber, I dug through my books and found a copy of Harvie Cashore and Stevie Cameron's "The Last Amigo". Virtualy every sleazy revelation about Mulroney, Bear Head and KHS was printed years ago in that book. Cameron, so brutally trashed by her own former employer (the Globe and Mail) and blindsided by Kaplan and Spector in "A Secret Trial", is vindicated.(And note, just as happened with Stevie's "On The Take", the normally litigious Mulroney did not sue Cameron for libel). Cameron may have, like the World War II journalist-censors I'm writing about, climbed into bed with the State for reasons of patriotism and for her own ideas of a greater good, but her honesty remains intact.
Quite simply, no matter what Mulroney's story may be, the questions will always haunt: why does a former Prime Minister take wads of cash from a sleazy arms dealer? Why would a lawyer who has an office just a couple of blocks away from the QEH do business in a hotel room with no contracts and no receipts? Is this what was considered normal behavior in Montreal and Ottawa? Has it happened before or since?
Yes, Mulroney's place in history is secure, and it's not a particularly pretty corner of the Great Canadian Story. Now, there may be peripheral damage to Harper's Tories, but even they should suck it up for history's sake. I'll be there for the show.

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