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Harper announces full Mulroney inquiry
Politics Watch News Services
November 13, 2007, updated 5:30 p.m.
http://www.politicswatch.com/mulroney-november13-2007.htm

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper appear together at an event in April honouring the former PM.   

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) — The financial dealings of former prime minister Brian Mulroney and jailed German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber will be the subject of a "full public inquiry" and a review by the RCMP.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the inquiry during question period on Tuesday.  

Just two hours later, the RCMP told a wire service that it planned to review new allegations about cash payments to the former prime minister. 

Harper's decision comes after all the opposition parties and both Mulroney and Schreiber pressed the government to hold a public inquiry. 

The prime minister had already announced he would appoint an independent third party to review Schreiber's new allegations that his arrangement to pay Mulroney $300,000 in cash was made while the former prime minister was still in office. 

"Given the conflicting information and allegations .  . . and the extended time period over which the events referred to in various documents and allegations surrounding this matter have occurred, I have decided to ask the third party to advise the government on appropriate terms of reference for a public inquiry," Harper said in a statement released by his office on Tuesday afternoon. 

Harper has yet to name the independent third party and the date for the inquiry has not been set. 
 
Although Mulroney has been out of elected politics for 14 years, a public inquiry into a former Progressive Conservative prime minister is a potential ticking time bomb that may drag on for years for the minority government which came to power promising to clean up government. 

Already, Harper has been brought into controversy as Schreiber's latest court affidavit says he provided Mulroney with a letter to personally deliver to Harper at Harrington Lake last summer.

Schreiber, who is facing extradition to Germany, said he made similar allegations about Mulroney in a letter he mailed to Harper months ago, but the Prime Minister's Office denies having read the correspondence. 

In question period, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion accused the prime minister of ignoring Schreiber's allegations for months. 
 
"Karlheinz Schreiber has been the subject of extradition proceedings by the federal government for the past eight years," Harper said. "I can assure the leader of the opposition that when somebody writes on his extradition proceeding that is not handled by the prime minister. That goes to appropriate government officials."

Schreiber's latest allegations have quickly altered the mood on Parliament Hill, where just two weeks ago reporters were writing off Dion's electoral chances after he publicly mused about raising the much-despised GST. 

The Conservative government now appears to be the party in panic mode and the Mulroney controversy is affecting their ability to govern. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the government cancelled a press conference to introduce its new Senate reform legislation. Senator Marjorie LeBreton, who is one of Mulroney's closest confidantes still in Ottawa, was to appear at that event. 

The press conference was rescheduled to later in the day after Harper announced the public inquiry.

LeBreton tried to distance herself and the Conservatives from the Mulroney controversy. 

"This particular matter does not concern the government, which I am a member of the cabinet," LeBreton said at the press conference. "I'm very proud of the prime minister and the direction he has taken."

Harper has also told members of his government to no longer have contact with Mulroney until his name is cleared. In the Senate question period Tuesday, LeBreton said she supported Harper's decree. 

"I fully support what the prime minister said," LeBreton said. "I believe it is the right course of action, and it is one that I have personally followed."

After question period, NDP Leader Jack Layton said the allegations against Mulroney are serious. 

"It's not a laughing matter when there are allegations of money changing hands involving a former prime minister possibly being discussed during the time of office," Layton said.  

"I mean, this is the kind of thing you read about in other countries. You don't expect it to be happening here. It's a serious matter and I guess the, the full impact of it began to set in."

:  Related Links

> Mulroney's do-not-call list

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