The Postmodern Prime Minister

Andrew Coyne takes apart Brian Mulroney's testimony in the Schreiber inquiry;

"It isn’t just that Mulroney didn’t tell the whole truth. He didn’t even tell a partial truth: ie. I met him for a cup of coffee, once or twice, full stop. Because, as Wolson pointed out, he then went on his testimony to describe in some detail the nature of their conversation, including that Schreiber had hired Lalonde to represent him. And he concludes with “that was it.” So this was a partial truth, masquerading as the whole truth. The clear impression was that he had given a full description of what went on at their meetings.

As for Mulroney’s pledge that he “would have” told them the whole truth, of what value is that? He says he’d have told his interrogators about the cash if they’d asked: but there was no way anyone else could have known about it. He says he would have given the police all of his documents — his bank accounts, and his income tax returns, the works. But the bank accounts would have had no record of the payments, since he kept them all in cash. And he didn’t declare it on his income tax until 1999. There are no documents anywhere that show any trace of the payments. So his retroactive hypothetical promise that he “would have” come clean is a crock."

How curious to have a PM parsing his language in such a way, where 'the truth' is not the same as 'the whole truth' and where his concerns about how the cash payments would be viewed by investigators are his publicly claimed rational for not disclosing them. In 'Alice Through the Looking Glass', Humpty Dumpty posits "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less" which expresses the essence of post-modern descent into meaningless relativism. Mulroney is now forced to engage in the same kind of obfuscatorial denial at the inquiry - for him, 'the truth and the whole truth' mean what he says it means, nothing more and nothing less, because if the words mean what everyone else thinks they mean he would be forced to admit he is simply lying.

Corruption of the PMs office isn't something limited to Tories like Mulroney, Chretien's laundry list of shady business dealings never met the smell test either, and in both cases we have a PM enriching themselves unethically in ways that demean the office.

All of which is way of saying that any schadenfreude I feel here for the long overdue comeuppance of Mulroney is not partisan - but is no less sweet.

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