The stage is set for testimony of politicians, power brokers, bureaucrats and journalists
A cast of gilded players
The stage is set for testimony of politicians, power brokers, bureaucrats and journalists
BRIAN MULRONEY The man who led the federal Tories to two overwhelming electoral victories in 1984 and 1988, makes an unlikely plaintiff. But for Mulroney, the stakes are high. The federal justice department has alleged that he pocketed millions in payments arising out of Air Canada’s 1988 purchase of 34 Airbus Industrie passenger jets. Mulroney vehemently denies the allegations—and is demanding $50 million in damages, an apology and a federal retraction in the world’s 50 biggest newspapers. Mulroney is fighting for his reputation—and is expected to testify on his own behalf.
ALLAN ROCK Mulroney’s legal team has set its sights firmly on the justice minister. The big question: did he drive the investigation on the basis of unsubstantiated rumors in an effort to discredit an old Liberal party foe? Rock has denied any undue involvement in the case, and has said that he simply passed along information from journalists to the RCMR Rock’s testimony could supply some of the trial’s most rivetting moments—and his political future could hang in the balance.
PHILIP MATHIAS On Nov. 18, 1995, the British-born Financial Post reporter broke the story of the justice department letter— and quoted from a version of it. Who leaked the document to him? Ottawa hopes to prove that the source was none other than Mulroney himself, who had received a summary of the document from European sources and wanted to publicize it so he could launch a libel action and divert the RCMP investigation. Mathias has strenuously denied that scenario and has indicated that he will continue § to refuse to reveal o his sources when | called to the stand. °
LUC LAVOIE The former television reporter has earned a reputation as Mulroney’s pit bull. He served as the former prime minister’s deputy chief of staff and has continued to do yeoman’s duty for Mulroney in his current job as a public relations executive. The federal government has subpoenaed Lavoie and two of his partners at Ottawa-based National Public Relations. At issue: when Lavoie found out about the justice department letter and who he told about it. The government will also want to know why, a full day before the Financial Post story broke, someone from Lavoie’s office inquired about the availability of a meeting room at the Bonaventure
Hotel in Montreal, where the media conference detailing the Mulroney lawsuit was held the day after the story appeared. Ottawa has also subpoenaed Robert Figiere, the Bonaventure’s manager, to testify about who called and when. The implication: Mulroney aides knew in advance that the story was coming—because their camp had leaked the document.
The author and now a Maclean’s contributing editor is called “the RCMP snitch” by some in the Mulroney camp. Much of that reputation stems from her best-selling 1994 exposé, On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years. But the Mulroney team also claims she gave Rock and the RCMP information that resulted in the criminal investigation.
Cameron is likely to have a rough time when she takes the stand for a grilling by the plaintiff’s lawyers. But she may also have the last word: Cameron is already at work on a book about Airbus.
KIMBERLY PROST The justice department senior counsel has rocketed from near-obscurity to centre stage. She sent Swiss authorities what is now at the centre of Mulroney’s libel suit: the Sept. 29, 1995, letter asking for their co-operation in a criminal investigation of Mulroney by the
RCMP, and alleging that the former prime minister defrauded the government of millions of dollars. During the examina-
tion for discovery, an expert witness for the Mulroney side said that Prost may have been negligent as far as the wording of the letter was concernedBut another expert testifying on behalf of the federal government declared that Brost properly fulfdled her responsibilities—and that
government-to -government cor respondence cannot be used as the basis for a successful lawsuit.
MARY JANIGAN and SUSAN DELACOURT
The other two journalists on the Mulroney legal team’s hit list. The question is: who said what when Rock dined with Janigan, also a Maclean’s contributing editor, and Delacourt, an Ottawa reporter for The Globe and Mail? Mulroney’s lawyers will argue that Rock was fishing for dirt on the former Tory prime minister. But, like Cameron, Janigan and Delacourt deny helping the justice minister and have retained lawyers to represent them at the trial.
GERALD TREMBLAY and JEAN JEANSONNE
Carrying the ball for the Mulroney offensive. Tremblay is a canny civil lawyer with the Montreal-based firm of McCarthy Tétrault. Jeansonne has a reputation for being aggressive. Mulroney’s advisers also include Harvey Yarosky and Roger Tasse, a former federal deputy minister of justice.
INGRID HILBIG During the examination for discovery, the University of Windsor language expert expressed the opinion that Mathias based his article on a summary of the original justice department letter— rather than the document itself. That is an important part of Ottawa’s strategy of attempting to prove that Mulroney or one of his people leaked the document.
PHILIP MURRAY The RCMP commissioner, named as a co-respondent in Mulroney’s suit, has insisted that the Mounties did not succumb to political pressure, but investigated the Airbus case on its own merits. And Murray has said that, if neces-
HARVEY STROSBERG, VINCENT O’DONNELL and CLAUDE ARMAND SHEPPARD
The federal government’s legal dream team. O’Donnell is a smooth, gentlemanly civil litigator from Montreal. Sheppard favors a more aggressive courtroom manner, and counts abortion activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler among
his past clients. Strosberg, meanwhile, is a Windsor, Ont., lawyer and a longtime friend of Rock’s whose approach is best summed up in his quote: “litigation is war and the weak go to the wall.” He will craft strategy : while the others handle the courtStrosberg: the strategist room duties.
The portly German-Canadian businessman is unlikely to testify at the trial—but he continues to hover in the background of the Airbus affair. The RCMP alleges that Schreiber worked as a lobbyist for Airbus, received up to $20 million in commissions through a Liechtenstein shell company, and channelled as much as $5 million to Mulroney through a Swiss bank account. Schreiber has denied the allegations. But he currently faces difficulties in Germany. In November, 1995, authorities raided his home and office near Munich as part of an investigation into possible tax evasion.
sary, RCMP witnesses will invoke the Canada Evidence Act to avoid giving any testimony that could impede the criminal probe. As a result, RCMP staff sergeant Fraser Fiegenwald, who holds one of the keys in the Airbus saga—what evidence the Mounties actually have supporting their allegations—may appear at the trial, but will likely reveal little.
FRANK MOORES The former Newfoundland premier and Mulroney leadership supporter was a prominent Ottawa lobbyist during the Tories’ years in power. According to the justice department letter, he was also the go-between used by Schreiber to pay alleged Airbus commissions to Mulroney. Federal lawyers are considering subpoenaing the former backroom operator, who spends his winters in Jupiter, Fla. Moores denies the allegations against him and filed suit earlier this year; his wife has said he has received death threats over his alleged role in the affair.
WILLIAM THORSELL A Mulroney confidant, the editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail has written a steady stream of columns and editorials defending the former prime minister against his critics. Thorsell has already conceded that Mulroney sent him a summary of the justice department letter. Federal lawyers, who have subpoenaed Thorsell, want to know whether he received the document before or after the Financial Post story appeared—and what he knows about how the leak occurred.
CYRUS REPORTER Rock’s youthful chief of staff infuriated Mulroney supporters with public broadsides
against the former prime minister. Now he has been subpoenaed—along with all relevant documents—so Mulroney lawyers can grill him about Rock’s links to the Airbus investigation.
ANDRE ROCHON The Quebec Superior Court judge from St-Jérôme, Que., who is hearing the case, has a reputation for running a tight ship. That could be important in a potentially explosive trial. Although appointed by the Chrétien government, Rochon has so far allowed most of Mulroney’s legal motions, while denying motions put forward by federal lawyers. He has also successfully resisted Sheppard’s request to have him removed from the case.
GIORGIO PELOSSI Schreiber’s former associate is an important RCMP source in the Mulroney investigation. The Swiss accountant claims to have been present when Schreiber and Moores allegedly opened two Swiss bank accounts in 1986—and says Schreiber told him that he intended to pay secret commissions to Mulroney. There is clearly no love lost between the former business associates—Pelossi, who claims that Schreiber owes him a share of the commissions, is suing him. He is not expected to testify.
EDDIE GOLDENBERG and PETER DONOLO
As two of Chrétien’s closest aides, press secretary Donolo and Goldenberg, the Prime Minister’s diminutive chief policy adviser, have been subpoenaed by the Mulroney team and asked to bring copies of all correspondence, memos and electronic mail they exchanged with Chrétien about the Airbus affair. The goal of the Mulroney lawyers seems clear; challenging the government’s claim that Liberal cabinet ministers were kept uninformed about the RCMP probe.
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