Liberal involvement with Karlheinz Schreiber comes to forefront
Karma, as they say, is a bitch.
With the Liberal party bending over backwards to dig dirt on the governing Conservatives via the Schreiber-Mulroney affair, today's huge development in the story just might make this story worthwhile for Conservative partisans.
Those paying attention to the early goings of this emerging non-scandal may have noticed various NDP commentators such as Brad Lavigne, referring to mutual Conservative and Liberal connections to Karlheinz Schreiber. Surely, they must have also noticed various Liberal commentators warning those NDP commentators to "be careful" about what they said.
It turns out that these Liberals had every reason to be vaguely threatening, considering the recent developments in the story today.
According to the Globe and Mail, powerful Liberal cabinet minister Andre Ouellet lobbied fiercely in favour of building the Thyssen AG armaments plant in Nova Scotia.
In various letters marked "secret", Ouellet and then-Industry Minister John Manley clearly disagreed about the project. Manley clearly shared Brian Mulroney's view on the project, which at one point was expected to have potentially cost Canadian taxpayers $100 million.
It was also discovered that Schreiber's company donated $10,000 to the Liberals after they won the 1993 federal election.
Not only, however, did Ouellet lobby the government in favour of the Bear Head project, but it seems he may have lobbied Schreiber himself to change the planned location of the factory to Quebec.
Ouellet expected the project to create 500 jobs in a poor Montreal neighbourhood.
"This is in line with the federal government's policy that all investment proposals should fully take into account the net economic advantages to Canada," Ouellet wrote. "That is why I suggest that you consider very seriously this request from a foreign company that is willing to invest in Canada and to export a military vehicle that could be in increasing demand in the context of peace missions that are more and more numerous around the world."
Manley eventually relented to accepting an economic analysis of the project's benefits from Thyssen.
Now, before Conservative partisans get too excited, one needs to remember that Ouellet, like Mulroney did nothing wrong in his dealings with Schreiber and Thyssen.
In each case, each individual merely acted in what they felt may be the best interests of depressed areas of the country -- Nova Scotia in Mulroney's case, and East Montreal in Ouellet's.
There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, that was their job at the time.
When the project was found to stand to cost Canada $100 million, Mulroney declared it dead.
When the government began preparations to purchase new armoured vehicles for the Canadian Forces, Ouellet declined to push Thyssen's product, instead urging the importance of an open competition. Purchasing the vehciles from Thyssen, or any other company, he noted, "without a tendering process would go against the rules of equity."
Neither man acted improperly, in any sense of the word.
That being said, if the Liberals want to use the Mulroney-Schreiber affair to portray the Conservative party as corrupt, they now need to realize that they'll be tarred with the same brush vis a vis the Ouellet-Schreiber affair.
Perhaps given the recent revelatins regarding Schreiber and his dealings, there will be significantly less will to waste Canadian time and money trying to get to the bottom of a matter in which no wrongdoings have transpired.
Or, the Liberals can keep trying to invent a scandal, and inevitably play into the hands of a hungry NDP.
Karma works quite well like that.