Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says he may have made some errors in judgment in his lifetime, but he isn't worried that the suggestion of impropriety in his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber will affect his legacy.
"I think that if you do big things, that's what counts in history and that's what will count here," Mulroney said in an interview with CBC News to mark the 25th anniversary of his Progressive Conservative Party's 1984 landslide election victory.
That election saw the PCs claim 211 of the 282 seats in the House of Commons, the biggest electoral domination in federal political history.
In the interview, Mulroney pointed to the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax as two key policies of his government that helped transform the Canadian economy.
On his dealings with German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber — who is currently behind bars in Germany awaiting trial on fraud and bribery charges — Mulroney must now wait for Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, who chaired the inquiry into Mulroney's dealings with Schreiber, to deliver his report to the federal government by a Dec. 31 deadline. The probe was called by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I have confidence in the fairness of the judge," Mulroney said.
Schreiber testified at the inquiry that he gave Mulroney $300,000 to lobby the Canadian government to build a light-armoured vehicle plant on behalf of Thyssen Industries of Germany. Schreiber said he made the deal with Mulroney before the prime minister left office, although the money didn't change hands until later.
Entering into an agreement while still in office to lobby the federal government on behalf of Schreiber would be an apparent violation of the ethics standards Mulroney implemented after taking power in 1984.
Mulroney testified he took $225,000 in cash from Schreiber to promote the sale of Thyssen vehicles. He said he didn't ask for cash and said there was nothing "sinister" in accepting it.
Mulroney admitted to taking the money but not reporting the cash payments for income-tax purposes until six years after he started getting them. The former PM said he broke no laws or ethical guidelines and confined his lobbying to foreign political leaders in search of export markets for the vehicles.
Mulroney told CBC News it was a mistake in judgment to meet with Schreiber.
"What, do you think I'm proud of what happened? Of course not. Not at all. And if I had to do it all over again, believe me, I'd do it differently," he said.
"But, you know, I've found out that … by the time you're 70 years of age, I don't know of anybody in Canada at 70 who hasn't made some mistake in life that he or she would rather do over again, and that includes me."
Speaking on recent economic matters, Mulroney said he disagreed with the current Conservative government's decision to reduce the GST.
"I thought it was good politics, but bad policy," he said, referring to the reduction of the GST to five per cent from seven per cent.
The former PM also said he was surprised by the earlier insistence from Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty that the country wasn't headed for a recession.
"Yeah, I was surprised by that … but it was in an election campaign. And, you know, sometimes people take a little licence during campaigns," Mulroney said.
Mulroney has expert assistance in publicity, the very best, absolute geniuses
at diversionary misinformation and outright blatant false statements all
designed to do the very best of damage control that a very corrupt former prime
minister could want, in attempting to overcome the damage of having been the
most corrupt prime minister in Canadian history.
Mulroney can continue to spend his ill gotten gains on public relations firms, in attempts to undo the damage done. Mulroney should have thought about that, before he decided to be so criminally corrupt. It might have been cheaper for him to have been an honest politician.
Mulroney is the author of his own misfortune, and we are seeing more of his pathetic very expensive futile efforts of publicity to buy his way out of a destroyed reputation.