Prime Time Crime

 

(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Sept. 12, 2005)

Mulroney: Crude …and Accurate

John Pifer

The Throne Speech and “mini-budget” of the BC Liberal government was to have been the hot political story of the week; but the earthy, crude comments of a former prime minister about assorted Canadian politicians easily relegated those mundane and predictable stories into second place.

And what is most interesting about Brian Mulroney’s revelations in Peter C. Newman’s book, The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister has been the reaction to them.

The Liberal-owned news media across the nation and the Establishment in this Canadian dictatorship of ours was aghast, or at least pretended to be shocked, surprised and amazed at Mr. Mulroney’s profane and vindictive assessment of some of his colleagues. Demands for an apology prompted the ex-PM to apologize for making such observations – what a wimp!

Yet, as far as many Canadians are concerned, he spoke the simple truth when he labelled the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau as “a coward and a weakling”, and Jean Chrétien as a vulgar politician who had not read a book in 20 years, and who was dominated by his wife. One of the most widely-quoted passages in the book is when Mulroney, commenting on Chrétien’s flip-flop on free trade, said: “It’s just a bloody piece of business Only a mean, dirty bastard would do something like that, or a f______ stupid one. And you know what? He’s both.”

It is refreshing to hear a politician, even a supercilious blowhard such as Mulroney, express an honest opinion. And thank heaven that Mr. Newman captured the ripe expletives on tape recorder, given the weasel-word apology the ex-PM is now offering.

“I regret any personal allusions (re Trudeau, Chrétien and others) that I made” Mulroney now contends. “Of course I regret it. It’s the kind of locker-room conversation we all use, but as prime minister I shouldn’t have used it,” he adds.

Give me a break, Brian. Stand up and be counted! Please do not give us any more crap about not knowing how the tapes would be used by Mr. Newman, one of Canada’s best-known journalists and a longtime personal friend of yours. You knew it was always “on the record” when you spoke with him – 98 conversations over a dozen years, no less -- and sniveling now about thinking that the tapes “would be used for background, colour and context” is pathetic.

The storm about the book’s content must be music to the ears of Random House Canada and Mr. Newman from the standpoint of making money from the tome. It is certain to be a best seller, if only because curious Canadians actually have an opportunity to get an unedited taste of honest opinion and comment from a politician, which is far from the usual state of affairs.

While the book may raise the former prime minister’s profile, it will do him little good as far as his reputation and legacy is concerned. Mr. Mulroney comes across as an arrogant, egotistic jerk who is so full of himself he contends that he will go down in history as one of our nation’s greatest prime ministers since John A. MacDonald. Yeah, right. And this humble scribe is far more handsome and sexier than Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise!

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at jwpifer@shaw.ca.

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