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Former prime minister Brian Mulroney listens to a question from Richard Auger, the lawyer for German-Canadian arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber, while testifying at the Oliphant inquiry in Ottawa on May 20, 2009.


There were a couple of sentences in the Globe's coverage of Mulroney/Oliphant that left me flummoxed. John Ibbitson writes: "The incredulity and anger that any reasonable observer must feel over the former prime minister's conduct is the highest price Mr. Mulroney will have to pay." And this from an editorial: "There is no public gain in vilifying a former prime minister, but after Mr. Mulroney's years of opacity there is satisfaction to be had in the trenchant, fair and ultimately damning fact-finding by an independent judge."

Hang on a minute. In point of fact, Mr. Mulroney can pay a higher price than the public's "incredulity and anger" and there is a "public gain" to be had from his further vilification: $2.1-million dollars to be exact. Oliphant found that Mulroney's justification ("they didn't ask me") for his failure to declare the cash payment from Schreiber in his testimony at trial leading to the $2.1-milion settlement of his lawsuit against the government of Canada was " patently absurd." An unnamed Mulroney flack quoted in The Star Tuesday said that, on this point Mulroney "agreed to disagree" with Oliphant. That's like saying you agree to disagree that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Tuesday morning I had a back and forth with The CBC's Harvey Cashore who knows more about this matter than God. He writes: "if Mulroney had sued a single individual (instead of the RCMP and Justice Department) and that person later had to pay Mulroney $2.1-million in costs, you can bet that individual would be suing right now to get their money back - and more. There wouldn't be a doubt about it. So why not the federal government? It was, after all, taxpayers money that BM received."

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This isn't rocket science. For all the high-minded jabber about "legacy," what say we start by getting our money back?

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