Students of, as well as the curious about the dark side of politics are salivating this week at not One but, count'em, Two, enquiries shedding light on rarely exposed allegations over corruption.
These are: the ongoing Oliphant Enquiry down at the old Ottawa City Hall into the relationship between Brian Mulroney and Karl Heinz Schreiber; and the Crown's case against Mayor Larry O'Brien before Associate Chief Justice, Douglas Cunningham, in courtroom # 36 of the Ontario Superior Court at the Ottawa Court House.
Both cases have major implications for politics in Canada and have been given the national media scrutiny they deserve. In fact, even the U.K. based international news magazine, "The Economist" cites both in a recently published article over Canada's indifference to corruption and white-collar crime.
Last fall in the book: "Dispersing The Fog - Inside The Secret World Of Ottawa And The RCMP", journalist and author Paul Palango argued that former Mountie Commissioner, Giuliano Zaccardelli, sealed the outcome of the January 2006 Federal Election a couple of weeks before the vote, by releasing information the RCMP were investigating charges Paul Martin's government had broken the law leaking changes about Income Trust sheltered investments. The issue combined with revelations from the Gomery Commission into the Liberal sponsorship scandal determined the result of the election in favour of the Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.
Of course all of this may explain the degree of effort the current Conservative minority government is expending to distance Mr. Harper from his relationship with his former mentor, Prime-Minister Mulroney... and somehow the hope that Ottawa's Mayor Larry O'Brien will "walk the plank" before his relationship with close Harper allies is exposed. The Liberals are just as guilty of political shenanigans past - But in opposition and with a new leader, they're itching for any hot issue to force the next election sooner rather than later.
At this juncture the Conservatives may face an even bigger challenge: The vast egos of both Mr. Mulroney in one case, and of Mr. O'Brien in the other. The cases are rushing to a rapid climax. - At the Oliphant Inquiry, the German-Canadian businessman and Mulroney accuser, Karl Heinz Schreiber is scheduled for his second appearance later this week. He's expected to set the stage for the star witness, the former Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney himself likely as early as next week. Besides arguing that he too is a victim of Schreiber, the former P-M will surely want to rescue his tattered legacy in government.
Meantime south at the Elgin Street Court House, another stage is being set for a cadre of close associates of the current Conservative government to be paraded as witnesses before Mr. Justice Cunningham. That's where Larry O'Brien hopes to rescue his own career and short turbulent legacy as Mayor. He's been accused of "Influence Peddling", and claims that it's a misunderstanding and a political vendetta. The inner-circle of the subpoenaed include the Minister of Transport, John Baird - Doug Finley, National Campaign Director for the Conservative Party - John Reynolds, Co-Chair of the Conservative 2006 Election Campaign - and, Lisa MacLeod a Progressive-Conservative Member of the Ontario Parliament.
Politicos, wannabees and pundits from every side are headed for several red-letter moments just around the next corner it seems. When it ends; it will be interesting to find-out who gets tossed-overboard with the "flotsam & jetsam" of Ottawa politics; and ultimately the long-term implications for Canada's reputation here and abroad.