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Getting to the bottom of the Airbus affair

From the beginning, the media have been a big part of the problem in getting to the bottom of the allegations surrounding former prime minister Brian Mulroney's dealings with lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

For example, it was only after the National Post killed the story of Mr. Schreiber's cash payments to Brian Mulroney that lawyer/author William Kaplan brought the story to The Globe and Mail. After Mr. Kaplan wrote a book on the affair a year later (full disclosure: I wrote the afterword), you could count the reviews on less than one hand, and he scored exactly one interview to publicize it.

In Québec, the record is even more damning: the major daily, La Presse, did not even report the cash payments after the Globe and Mail broke the story in 2003.  And, in today's La Presse, columnist Yves Boisvert weighs in on the side of those who are attempting to restrict the mandate of the commission that the Harper government established to look into the allegations.

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Boisvert writes:

"Will the Commission unearth information we don't already know? They will not re-do the whole Airbus inquiry-which the RCMP has already done-and there are some who deplore this.

But if the Commission finds satisfactory answers to 17 questions [referred to it] we'll know what there is to know."

In fact, the RCMP did not conduct a full investigation of the Airbus investigation: it closed it down before getting to the bottom of the allegations. And if the Commission is to answer fully the 17 questions that have been referred to it by the government, it will have to find out what happened to the $10 Million in commission that Mr. Schreiber had to distribute in Canada-which would include commissions related to the purchase of Airbus planes in the mid-1980s.

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