The Mulroney Tapes

Friends & Foes
Revelations met with shock, amusement
Mulroney told associates about tapings: Senator

By Julie Smyth

National Post, September 14, 2005

OTTAWA — Former associates of Brian Mulroney said yesterday they can hardly believe the candid comments and admissions in the new Peter C. Newman book, The Secret Mulroney Tapes.

“I had my differences with him, as we all did…. Anyone who sat at the Cabinet table would not be surprised at his language, but I am surprised at his attack on me because he gave me top posts in succession. He appointed me to the top economic post ever held by a woman, which was president of the Treasury Board…. He put me in charge of the free trade negotiations,” said Senator Pat Carney, the former Tory Cabinet minister.

According to taped conversations with Mr. Newman, the former prime minister said of Senator Carney, who wrote a book about the Mulroney years: “She ain’t going to get the time of day, and let me just tell you this, if she wrote a book — I mean if it sold five thousand copies, that would be a huge, huge success…. Who the hell is Pat Carney?”

Senator Carney also disputed comments made by Mr. Mulroney’s spokesman, Luc Lavoie, on Monday that many of the remarks were made in late-night conversations and the former prime minister was unaware he was being taped. Mr. Lavoie told reporters Mr. Mulroney felt betrayed by Mr. Newman.

“He told his colleagues he was doing the taping with Peter Newman,” Senator Carney said yesterday. “We were all aware. We may have thought he was crazy, but we were all aware.”

She is not aware when the comments were made about her — the book is based on 12 years of conversations — and said Mr. Mulroney phoned her several years ago to wish her well on her remarriage.

In the book, Mr. Mulroney called Lucien Bouchard, the former Conservative Cabinet minister who left to found the Bloc Québécois, a “bastard”; former Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells a “son of a bitch” for helping defeat the Meech Lake accord; and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau a “coward.” He said Maureen McTeer, wife of former prime minister Joe Clark, “hates me, but then again, she hates most people.”

Julian Porter, the Toronto lawyer, said yesterday he was surprised to see his name had been put forward for chief justice of Ontario and the Senate years ago and then dismissed because his wife, Anna Porter, published an unflattering book about Mr. Mulroney.

“It’s sort of fun. I was completely unaware of all of this,” he said. “It would always be nice to be chief justice, but anyway.”

In the taped interviews, Mr. Mulroney refers to Clair Hoy’s book Friends in High Places, saying: “All that is left of the Hoy thing is that it cost Julian Porter the chief justiceship of Ontario…. I killed that. And then he tried to get back in as one of the Ontario candidates for the Senate, and I killed that, too.”

Mr. Porter said he never applied for judicial office nor thought about the Senate. “Over the years, I have had lots of talks with Brian but , no, I haven’t talked to anyone about it.

He said he was never interested in the Senate. “That wouldn’t be my cup of tea.”

He was not, however, surprised that Mr. Mulroney handled things as he did, “I knew he was angry about Claire Hoy’s book. I knew quite directly from a number of people,” he said, adding he was the libel lawyer for Friends in High Places.

“Nobody owes you anything. I don’t think you can stand around and say, ‘I am owed the position of chief justice.’ [These are] things that they can appoint, so no, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. He [Mr. Mulroney] knew that I had done the legal review on the book, so, you know. Fair enough.”

Mr. Porter said he has had a number of dealings with the former prime minister and remains a friend, acknowledging that is why he was taking it all so well.

He even makes a joke of it on his voice mail, saying: “Porter. According to the Mulroney tapes. I’m nearly, nearly chief justice. In any event, I am practicing law. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”

A number of people attacked in the book declined to comment yesterday, including Mr. Bouchard, Mr. Chrétien and former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps, who Mr. Mulroney said will “never be a leader because she has no judgment.” Others did not return calls.

Kim Campbell, the former prime minister, who Mr. Mulroney said in the tapes was “god damned vain,” spoke “awful French and was responsible for losing the election in 1993, in part, because she was “screwing around with her boyfriend on the campaign, told The Vancouver Sun’s Peter O’Neil that Mr. Mulroney wanted “a scapegoat who would bear the electoral burden of his unpopularity.”

Not part of the article but related information:

Clair Hoy and Friends in High Places

Anna Porter, through Key Porter Books, published Hoy’s 1987 book on lobbying and patronage in Mulroney’s Ottawa. Her husband, Julian Porter was the libel lawyer.

Mulroney said he never read the book but it influenced at least two of his patronage decisions:

I heard that the Hoy thing was awful bad stuff, but in fact I should tell you that in the month that followed the publication, we gained seven points.

All that is left of the Hoy thing is that it cost Julian Porter the chief justiceship of Ontario. They came forward with him for chief justice of Ontario, and I killed it right on the spot. I killed that. And then he tried to get back in as one of the Ontario candidates for the Senate, and I killed that too. I hope that Julian and Anna Porter made a lot on that book. That’s what it cost them.

* * * * *

Stevie Cameron of On the Take fame phoned to say she should warn me of what she had said on a Kitchener radio show concerning this book. I experienced ‘trepidation’.

“What did you say?”

She said words to the effect, “I read the part about you and the Chief Justice appointment and I was enraged. Mulroney’s actions were despicable and this represented all that I detested in his government. This bothered me more than anything in the book….”

I am a strong supporter of Stevie, so I neglected to mention that I had acted for Luc Lavoie, Brian’s public relations mouthpiece.