Nova Scotia

'Leery' MacKay told father to avoid Schreiber

Peter MacKay says he told his father not to associate with Karlheinz Schreiber, the businessman at the centre of the allegations against former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Peter MacKay says he told his father not to associate with Karlheinz Schreiber, thebusinessman at the centre of the allegations againstformer prime minister Brian Mulroney.

MacKaytold reporters Fridayhe was "leery" of Schreiber, but didn't go into details.

Schreiber claims Elmer MacKay, a former Conservative cabinet minister and Peter MacKay's father, urged him to write a letter to Mulroney to patch up their relationship so he could raise his extradition case with the prime minister.

Schreiber is wanted in Germany on charges of fraud, tax evasion and bribery.

Peter MacKay said he didn't know if his father wrote the letter.

"I don't really talk to my father in depth about his friendships. But I can tell you this: It was my opinion for a number of years that he should not associate with Mr. Schreiber, and I voiced that opinion," he said.

"I was leery. That's all."

MacKay said he met Schreiber a couple of times, including once at a restaurant when the businessman stopped by to chat during a family gathering.

The defence minister also insisted he had very limited knowledge of Schreiber, despite the fact that he worked briefly at an industrial company in Germany that Schreiber had represented, Thyssen Industries.

"When I was working with that company for a very short time, I had no idea who Mr. Schreiber was or what his association was with Thyssen," he said. "I had never met him."

Questions in House

Opposition politicians have questioned MacKay in recent days about his father's relationship with Schreiber, who testified before a House of Commons ethics committee on Thursday. He'll return for a second appearance next Tuesday.

During question period Friday, MPs called on the defence minister to produce a letter Elmer MacKay faxed to Schreiber from MacKay's N.S. constituency office in 2006.

The incident caused a minor uproar in Parliament last year when it was revealed by the Bloc Québécois. An amused MacKay eventually said his father would reimburse his constituency office 17 cents for using the office fax machine.

"What was the subject and content of that letter?" Liberal MP Judy Sgro said Friday. "Will the minister table it before the House, and does he still think it's so humorous?"

Speaking for the government, House Leader Peter Van Loan dismissed the member's question, saying MacKay has already said he had no knowledge of the letter.

"It had nothing to do with him; it had nothing to do with this government," Van Loan said.