Expert thinks Schreiber won't talk at hearings
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Sunday, November 25, 2007 1:31PM EST
Author William Kaplan, an expert on the Brian Mulroney-Karlheinz Schreiber affair, predicts upcoming hearings by a parliamentary committee will be a "gong show."
Kaplan also thinks a public inquiry into a controversial $300,000 in payments to the former Progressive Conservative prime minister by the German-Canadian businessman will prove to be a bad idea.
"We don't need another inquiry. We certainly don't need the 'gong show' that's about to transpire on Parliament Hill next week before the ethics committee," the lawyer and author of two books on the controversy told CTV's Question Period on Sunday.
Kaplan's advice to David Lloyd Johnston, the legal academic whom Prime Minister Stephen appointed to advise on the terms of a public inquiry, would be that a special prosecutor be appointed to review the matter and recommend if charges should be laid.
Mulroney has admitted through a spokesman that his dealings with Schreiber were a colossal error in judgment. However, he has denied any wrongdoing and has called for a public inquiry.
Schreiber -- facing extradition as early as Dec. 1 to Germany over corruption-related charges there -- is scheduled to appear before the House of Commons ethics committee starting Tuesday and may make up to three appearances. The committee has also called on Mulroney to testify in early December.
"They are seriously misinformed if they think ... Schreiber is going to tell them everything he knows," Kaplan said.
"He's not going to tell anybody anything until the minister of justice informs the government of Germany that Karlheinz Schreiber, Canadian citizen, will not be returned to Germany."
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson hasn't indicated yet whether the government will act to deport Schreiber, who has an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Kaplan said a key question for the government is whether it's in the public interest to keep Schreiber in Canada to tell all he knows.
For example, Schreiber has claimed to know of other scandals. But the man's credibility must be questioned given that he's facing extradition, he said.
Committee members respond
"I don't see how Mr. Kaplan knows what's going to happen at our committee," NDP MP Pat Martin told Question Period.
Many fear that once Schreiber leaves Canada for Germany, "that will be the last we'll ever see of him," he said.
Martin lost his temper at last Tuesday's committee meeting.
"With a well-chaired meeting, we would all stipulate ourselves to a protocol and etiquette that's fitting for a parliamentary meeting," he said Sunday.
Liberal MP Robert Thibault said his party supports a public inquiry, wants Schreiber available for it and wants it to review the Schreiber-Mulroney relationship back to 1980 plus the actions of the current Conservative government.
On the committee, Thibault said he actually agreed with Kaplan's assessment that the committee might not be the best forum.
However, Schreiber's possible departure left MPs with no choice, he said.
"I think Mr. Harper wants Mr. Schreiber out of the country as quickly as possible," he said.
Conservative MP Russ Hiebert described that statement as nonsense and said it was part of a pattern of unsubstantiated Liberal allegations.
"What we all want to do is to get to the bottom of this matter, and the best way to do that is through the public inquiry," he said.
"What we don't want to see happen is for the ethics committee to be turned into a circus or into a platform for a partisan political witch hunt."