Presumed Guilty: Brian Mulroney, the Airbus Affair, and the Government of Canada

Overview

It promised to be the biggest political scandal of the decade. A letter had come to light, written by officials of the government of Canada to a Swiss bank, which claimed that Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada, was linked to illegal kickbacks from the sale of thirty-four Airbus airplanes to Air Canada – a 1988 deal that had cost the publicly owned airline $1.8 billion.

Rumours of wrongdoing had been circulating for months, especially since a March 1995 program on ...

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Overview

It promised to be the biggest political scandal of the decade. A letter had come to light, written by officials of the government of Canada to a Swiss bank, which claimed that Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada, was linked to illegal kickbacks from the sale of thirty-four Airbus airplanes to Air Canada – a 1988 deal that had cost the publicly owned airline $1.8 billion.

Rumours of wrongdoing had been circulating for months, especially since a March 1995 program on CBC-TV’s the fifth estate, entitled “Sealed in Silence.” On the show, it had been suggested that insiders close to the Conservative government had used their connections to seal the deal, and had profited handsomely in the process. There had been talk of Swiss bank accounts and the involvement of an international business consultant named Karlheinz Schreiber, not to mention former premier of Newfoundland Frank Moores, who had been a well-known Ottawa lobbyist at the time.

Now, in November 1995, the Financial Post published details of the official investigatory letter, which claimed the involvement of Brian Mulroney himself.

Immediately, Mulroney responded to press reports with an unprecedented $50-million defamation suit against the federal government and the RCMP, amid allegations that he was the one who had leaked the letter and thus libelled himself. As journalists circled around the story in a feeding frenzy, rumours also began to circulate that certain Liberals had taken an unusually personal interest in the case. Was the investigation politically motivated? Was it conducted in accordance with normal established practices by the RCMP, the Department of Justice, and others? Who in government knew about the letter, and when? And who leaked the letter to the Financial Post, and why?

Every Canadian is aware of the bare bones of the story, yet no full and objective investigation of what really happened in this case has yet been made. Now, in Presumed Guilty, William Kaplan, lawyer and author – with the complete co-operation of the Mulroney team, and access to many others involved on both sides of the case – has set out to do just that. Presumed Guilty takes the reader behind the scenes and into the trenches, providing a fascinating insider’s look at one man’s fight to clear his name.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780771045936
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
  • Publication date: 10/7/1999
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 8.71 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

William Kaplan, the author and editor of more than a dozen books, teaches law at the University of Ottawa and is a well-known arbitrator and mediator of labour and commercial disputes.
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