judge has rejected Brian Mulroney's request for a delayed start to
hearings into his business dealings with arms dealer Karlheinz
Justice Jeffrey Oliphant ruled that commission
hearings will begin as scheduled on March 30, not April 14 as
Mulroney's lawyers had wanted. The former prime minister requested a
postponement so that Oliphant might clarify some ground rules.
Mulroney wants the investigation to focus primarily
on his time in office, and not on his dealings with Schreiber upon his
retirement from politics in 1993.
Oliphant will hear from Mulroney's lawyers again
Tuesday. They will argue the judge has a duty to explain - before the
commission starts - what elements of Mulroney's business dealings he
will be probing.
The judge will take two days to consider that request and will issue his response in a verbal presentation Thursday.
Commission officials cast the latest ruling against
Mulroney as a compromise, announcing there will only be two hearing
days on March 30 and 31 before a two-week pause.
Mulroney has acknowledged he accepted $225,000 from
Schreiber after he stepped down as prime minister to promote the
building of German-designed light armoured vehicles in Canada.
He says he tried to line up support among foreign political leaders whose countries might buy the vehicles.
Schreiber says the deal was struck before Mulroney
left office although the cash didn't change hands until later. He also
claims the payments totalled $300,000 and that Mulroney was supposed to
lobby the Canadian government, not foreign leaders.
The probe is expected to cost more than $14 million.
Oliphant is to deliver a final report by Dec. 31, 25 months after Prime
Minister Stephen Harper first promised an inquiry into the affair.