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December 14, 2007

Brian Mulroney testifies before Canadian House of Commons

Brian Mulroney testifies before Canadian House of Commons

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Brian Mulroney in an interview in 2007.
Image: Joshua Sherurcij.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney testified Thursday before an ethics committee in the Canadian House of Commons about the Airbus affair, a case involving alleged bribery at the highest levels of government to secure Airbus sales of aircraft to Air Canada.

In his testimony, Mulroney said that he should not have associated with German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber nor should have he accepted bundles of cash — which he placed in safe deposit boxes in two different countries.

Nonetheless, Mulroney denied accepting kickbacks. He admitted taking about CAD225,000 in cash from Schreiber in 1993 and 1994, which was after his departure from politics. He also said that the money involved promoting Schreiber’s private business dealings.

To the committee Muroney said: “When I look back on it today, I realize I made a serious error of judgment in receiving a payment in cash for this assignment even though it was decidedly not illegal to do so. That mistake in judgment was mine alone. I apologize and I accept full responsibility for it. … I should have declined the offer. I should have insisted that payment be in a more transparent or more accountable manner. By not doing so I inadvertently created an impression of impropriety on the high office I was privileged to hold.”

“Do you realize, Mr. Mulroney, that the way in which you acted in this matter did not make it appear that it were a legitimate transaction,” said MP Serge Ménard of Bloc Québécois.

Two days earlier, Schreiber testified before the same committee, alleging that Mulroney agreed to accept CAD300,000 to promote a light armored vehicle factory and benefited from the purchase of 34 Airbus aircraft by Air Canada.

“I never received a cent from anyone for services rendered to anyone in connection with the purchase by Air Canada from Airbus of 34 aircraft,” Mulroney said, refuting Schreiber.

Mulroney also attacked Schreiber’s credibility, pointing out that the German could be extradited to his home country where he faces charges. “He succeeded. He got what he wanted … he’s sitting in his mansion over in Rockcliffe,” Mulroney said. “I think he seriously misled every member of this House … with this false affidavit.”

The committee’s investigation will resume in late January, when it is expected to call dozens of witnesses.



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November 28, 2006

Canadian House of Commons passes Quebecois nation motion

Canadian House of Commons passes Quebecois nation motion

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

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The Canadian House of Commons approved a motion recognizing the Québécois [the people of Quebec] as a nation within Canada, Monday night, by a margin of 266 to 16. The government motion was supported by the opposition Liberal, New Democratic and Bloc Québécois parties although 15 Liberal MPs voted against it along with Independent MP Garth Turner. Several Conservative MPs abstained from the vote including Michael Chong who resigned earlier in the day as Intergovernmental Affairs minister due to his opposition to the motion. While the dissenting Liberal MPs do not face censure by their party, Conservative backbenchers who opposed the resolution could only go as far as abstaining if they wished to remain in the Tory caucus, according to Mr. Chong.

The surprise motion was introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on November 22 in response to a motion by the separatist Bloc Québécois that the House recognize Quebec as a nation. The government resolution substituted the word Québécois for Quebeckers and added the words “within a united Canada”. The motion reads: “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.”

The government has stated that they have no intention to amend the Constitution of Canada to recognize Quebec’s national status although several political analysts have argued that such an attempt is now inevitable.

Recognizing Quebec as a nation is a concept that has divided the Liberal Party of Canada in the period leading to its leadership convention this weekend with leadership contender Michael Ignatieff proposing that idea earlier this fall. Leadership candidates Ken Dryden and Joe Volpe voted against the House of Commons resolution and contender Gerard Kennedy also expressed his opposition while Bob Rae and Stéphane Dion, who have both been critical of Ignatieff’s call for a constitutional amendment have expressed their support for the House of Commons resolution.

Related news

  • “Harper to recognize Quebec as nation within Canada” — Wikinews, November 23, 2006
  • “Canadian Cabinet Minister resigns over Harper’s Quebec motion” — Wikinews, November 27, 2006

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November 22, 2006

State funeral approved by Canadian House of Commons

State funeral approved by Canadian House of Commons

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

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The House of Commons approved a state funeral for the last standing World War I veteran Tuesday. Three of them are still alive, Percy Wilson, who is 105 years old, Lloyd Clemett and John Babcock, both 106. They are the last three living veterans among the 619,636 Canadians who served between 1914 and 1918.

The motion, introduced by the New Democratic Party, was favored by all party leaders. The motion was prompted by an online petition by the Dominion Institute, a national organization which promotes Canadian history.

State funerals in Canada, by tradition, are reserved for prime ministers and governors general. This bill, which is now in affect in Canada, means that state funerals are not only for prime ministers but for people who have served the country.

“We want to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who signed our petition in support of state funeral,” said Rudyard Griffiths, the director of the Dominion Institute. “By passing a motion to offer a full state funeral today the Parliament of Canada will allow a grateful nation to pay proper tribute to our last Great War veteran on his passing and honour the over 600,000 Canadians he served with under arms from 1914-1918.”

Australia, also held a state funeral for the final veteran of the Battle of Gallipoli. A State Funeral was offered for Steve Irwin in September 2006, but the offer was declined by his family’s wishes. Canada is the fourth country to have a funeral honoring the last war veteran that served in any war.

“We won’t be able to look them in the eyes anymore and thank them for their service the way we should for everyone who is willing to serve our country the way they did and our armed forces personnel still do,” NDP Leader Jack Layton said.

Since November 6, around 100,000 Canadians had signed the online petition.

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June 28, 2005

Canadian House of Commons approves same-sex marriage

Canadian House of Commons approves same-sex marriage

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

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In a 158 to 133 vote of the House of Commons held Tuesday night, Canadian MPs have approved the legalization of same-sex weddings in Canada. Assuming the Senate passes Bill C-38 and the Governor General gives royal assent, Canada will become the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex weddings after the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. The bill presented to the House of Commons by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin has passed mainly because of support by the left-wing New Democratic Party of Jack Layton and the support of the separatist Bloc Québécois, which enabled it to overcome the staunch opposition of the Conservative Party.

Votes in House of Commons on Bill C-38
Group For Against Absentees Total
Liberal cabinet 36 0 1 37
Liberal backbench 59 32 3 95
Conservatives 3 93 2 98
Bloc Québécois 43 5 6 54
NDP 17 1 1 19
Independents 0 2 2 4
Totals 158 133 16 307

While this vote is historic, gay weddings had already been legalized by the Supreme Courts of most Canadian provinces. The C-38 bill now extends these rulings to the rest of Canada, namely to the provinces of Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and the territory of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

The adoption of this bill ends a longstanding political and judicial debate in Canada, with the House of Commons referring the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada last year, only to have it handed back to them by the judges. If the debate has just been closed in a political sense, gay rights continue to create tensions between Canadians, since support for gay weddings comes mainly from Quebec and Ontario and parts of British Columbia while the Maritimes and Prairie provinces are mostly against them.

Those tensions have also been felt in the House of Commons itself, when Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper said on Monday, anticipating that the C-38 bill would be adopted, that the vote would “lack in legitimacy” since the bill would pass because of an unnatural alliance between the federalist Liberals and the separatist Bloc Québécois. This partisan view of gay rights has been strongly condemned, especially by Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe who said that MPs from his party were democratically elected and as legitimate as any in parliament. Others called Harper a hypocrite, pouncing on the fact that he never raised any such objections allying with the Bloc in the previous month’s confidence votes. Prior to the vote, Joe Comuzzi announced his resignation from the Liberal cabinet because of his opposition to gay weddings and the fact that Liberal cabinet members were required to vote the party line in this case.

Related news

  • Canadian PM vows to push ahead with same-sex marriage bill
  • Court legalizes same-sex marriage in New Brunswick

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