Stories broadcast on the CBC News program the fifth estate and published in The Globe and Mail revealed details of the financial relationship between former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. The House of Commons Ethics Committee held hearings on these financial dealings and a public inquiry was called.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Linden and I stand here being honoured for our work on this story, it’s easy to forget that asking questions about Brian Mulroney’s relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber has not always been so warmly received.
This story began more than a decade ago with a very simple question. Fifth estate producer Harvey Cashore, who couldn’t be with us tonight because he’s preparing to welcome a new baby into his family, uncovered a series of secret contracts. Those contracts funnelled more than 20 million dollars to a mysterious German-Canadian lobbyist to help him in his efforts selling European-made planes, helicopters and tanks to Canadian government agencies.
Harvey had just one simple question: What happened to that money? Instead of an answer, Harvey got something else: Editorials attacked him for asking the question. He was on the receiving end of three frivolous lawsuits. Mr. Mulroney called it a vendetta-driven campaign to smear his family’s good name.
Fortunately for all of us, Harvey does not scare easily. And although he often felt like he was the only person asking that question, he was not alone.
In 2003, lawyer and author Bill Kaplan came to Globe and Mail editor-in-chief Ed Greenspon with a story that turned the prevailing narrative on its head. Mr. Mulroney had accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from Schreiber, and that set the course for The Globe to join Harvey’s pursuit.
This year, we finally made some real discoveries about those payments, but the most important discovery was a lesson for our profession.
We should not assume Canada’s most important institutions are perfect mechanisms for maintaining the integrity of our democracy.
A lengthy RCMP investigation failed to determine why those payments took place — but was shut down anyway. Even worse, a Montreal courtroom was used to convince the entire country that a very powerful man with powerful lawyers had nothing to hide — when nothing could have been further from the truth.
We are often the last line of defence.
And this story has also shown us that that defence is formidable. It is made up of determined people like Harvey, his co-producer Timothy Sawa and Linden. It has unflinching managers like Globe editors Ed Greenspon, Sylvia Stead, Colin MacKenzie and David Walmsley. It is also buttressed by CBC executive producers David Studer and Sally Reardon. It also includes a few lawyers — Danny Henry, Peter Jacobsen — and one particular lawyer who, next to Harvey, deserves the most credit for exposing those three notorious hotel room meetings, Bill Kaplan.
Thank you for the nomination. It is a great honour.
The Globe and Mail
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I’ve worked with Harvey Cashore on this story for nearly 10 years – more recently with another young CBC reporter who couldn’t be here, Timothy Sawa who’s based in Winnipeg. And of course – with Greg McArthur of the Globe and Mail. I have to say that for someone who’s been in this line of work for more than four decades it is inspiring to work with young reporters of this caliber – journalists who will carry the torch of investigative journalism well into the future.
Greg has succinctly outlined the objective elements of the many stories we’ve done on this particular issue. For me the over-arching significance of the story is its power to remind us of the crucial importance of transparency and accountability in high places — not just for elected officials, but also regarding the conduct of the many people drawn to them by the magnetism of power and the prospect of easy personal enrichment at public expense. This, for me, is the root motivation for us and for our supervisors at the CBC and the Globe for pursuing this particular story so aggressively and for so long.
I appreciate the recognition that is explicit in a nomination for an award that has quite rightly become the highest compliment available for the work we do.
CBC-TV fifth estate.