Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to assist the hon. member one more time in bringing forth the actual facts in the case and to familiarize him with international assistance in legal and criminal matters.
Police agencies must follow a clearly established process to seek the assistance of another country when carrying out an investigation.
When a police force is conducting an investigation which takes it outside Canadian borders, the police force's request must be channelled through the international assistance group of the Department of Justice.
This group is a Canadian authority administering incoming and outgoing requests for assistance from and to other countries. The group's main focus is to ensure that the requests for assistance meet the legal requirements of the country receiving a particular request or those of Canada in the case of incoming requests.
In the Airbus affair, the international assistance group sent a request for mutual legal assistance to Swiss authorities on behalf of the RCMP. The RCMP was and is responsible for this investigation. It was always clear to both the Canadian and Swiss authorities that the request for mutual legal assistance contained allegations that were the very subject of the police investigation.
So that this would be perfectly clear, this point was repeated several times. Certain turns of phrase wrongly left the impression, however, that the conclusion had been reached that there had been some form of embezzlement.
The Government of Canada apologized for this and reached an out-of-court settlement with Mr. Mulroney.
In addition, changes were made to the mutual legal assistance process in November 1995 to ensure that this does not happen again. For example, counsel within the international assistance group will now review all requests to consider whether they contain conclusory statements or statements inconsistent with the investigative nature of the request.
The statement reached by the parties, I repeat, in January 1997, speaks clearly to the inappropriate language of the letter. It specifies that the letter is part of an—